I LOVE HOST­ING

Woolworths TASTE - - Crowd Pleasers - sibam­ton­gana.com

– I en­joy feed­ing peo­ple good food! The kitchen is my space and I en­joy spend­ing time there. It’s never a small group, but I’m not in­tim­i­dated be­cause I come from a big fam­ily and I was al­ways the res­i­dent cook at home when I was grow­ing up. These are my top sur­vival tips for en­ter­tain­ing in the De­cem­ber hol­i­days.

1. Plan ahead, Fred!

I’ve hosted chil­dren’s birth­day par­ties, my in-laws, friends, church gath­er­ings, even my hus­band Brian’s friends who ar­rive unan­nounced – so I know that plan­ning is key (though I can wing it for last­minute gath­er­ings). I usu­ally plan the menu at least a week or two in ad­vance, es­pe­cially around Christ­mas. I’ve been stung by that be­fore! I once de­cided not to en­ter­tain and then, at the last minute, pulled all my friends to­gether. But it was tricky to find pro­duce, so buy or or­der your turkey or gam­mon in ad­vance and keep it in your freezer.

2. Make friends with your butcher

I save time by ask­ing the butcher or fish­mon­ger to clean and prep the cuts for me. I’m kind to my­self – I know my strengths and lim­i­ta­tions and, as a mom, TV show host and busi­ness­woman, my time is very much in de­mand. But I’ve built a group of sup­pli­ers who know me and can help at short no­tice. Get to know your com­mu­nity of sup­pli­ers, in­clud­ing the butcher or fish­mon­ger in your lo­cal Woolies store.

3. Ask for help

I’m not afraid to ask when I need ex­tra hands. If I can have some­one chop all the onions for me, that’s amaz­ing. To make things eas­ier, you can even pre-chop ev­ery­thing into dif­fer­ent tubs and ar­range all the in­gre­di­ents for each dish on its own prep tray on a shelf in the fridge. Then you’ll be free to fo­cus on the cook­ing on the day.

4. Give your fridge a hand

I like an un­clut­tered fridge but when we’re cater­ing for so many peo­ple, my fridge and freezer are al­ways packed.

But then the air cir­cu­la­tion is not as good and the fridge isn’t as cold, so I make my ice-cream cake (see page 91) a cou­ple of days in ad­vance to make sure it sets. There’s no serv­ing melted ice cream – or a fridge cheese­cake that hasn’t set.

5. Over cater like you mean it

It takes ef­fort to cook some­thing spe­cial, so if I’m mak­ing the burg­ers (op­po­site), I dou­ble the recipe so that I can turn into meat­balls or a lasagne the next day. Plus, they’re a back-up if any­thing goes wrong. One year I did a beau­ti­ful roast in a casse­role dish and as I was tak­ing it out the oven, it broke. It was a com­plete dis­as­ter! The casse­role had to go into the bin. For­tu­nately I had planned a red meat and a fish main – so I only served the fish. And no-one even no­ticed!

6. Make food that kids will eat

Deal­ing with chil­dren at par­ties can be a night­mare, so I make sure that they’re well-catered for. I ei­ther do a menu with fin­ger food – like the as­para­gus tarts on, which they can eas­ily pick up and munch on, or I cut adult dishes – like the salmon on page 88 – into bite-size

por­tions. Also, I don’t know about other peo­ple’s kids, but when there are lots of peo­ple at my house, my lit­tle ones are not in the mood to eat! There’s too much ex­cite­ment. So I also sup­ple­ment the menu with things that I know are their favourites – like fish or chicken gou­jons. That way, I know they’re taken care of while I look af­ter my adult guests.

7. Keep them en­ter­tained

Our fam­i­lies are big! Brian and I have four chil­dren, my sis­ter has two boys, and my brother has three kids – and that’s just my im­me­di­ate fam­ily in Cape Town alone! If there are go­ing to be lots of chil­dren, I hire a nanny for the day and I or­gan­ise a jump­ing cas­tle, baby! I’ve also found that putting out colour­ing books and ask­ing ev­ery­one to bring a toy so that there’s no fight­ing over who plays with what works – just make sure that each child goes home with the right one! We limit our chil­dren’s TV time on school days, so when we’re en­ter­tain­ing, I hire games and let them play on the PlayS­ta­tion.

8. Don’t worry about mak­ing

ev­ery­thing match

Flow­ers re­ally el­e­vate a ta­ble, but right now I love eu­ca­lyp­tus, which is on trend and also so af­ford­able. I love mak­ing a ta­ble run­ner with that, and adding vases of proteas. I’m also gaga over cut­lery and crock­ery! My plates are wonky and they’re all dif­fer­ent colours. Gold is back – I love gold spoons with white han­dles. I buy those and then mix them up with other cut­lery for big ta­bles. I don’t want uni­for­mity: that’s what makes it me.

SPICY PRAWNS AND GUA­CAMOLE IN CU­CUM­BER CUPS

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