I mentioned it yesterday, but part of our long weekend was taken up with an afternoon BBQ. For Mr BBB’s birthday just happened to fall on a public holiday, and perfect Summer weather was forecast. So we couldn’t resist having some family and friends around to enjoy a few drinks, some delicious food, and a relaxing afternoon in the Sun. Rather than a traditional BBQ, we decided to hold a little “build your own burger” party. I made some homemade patties (ground topside, onion, dijon mustard, garlic powder and S&P), and while Mr BBB got to grilling – I set out the rest of the ingredients – a selection of rolls, grilled onion, bacon, cheeses, salads, beetroot, pineapple, tomato, lettuce and pickles. We also had a range of salads – potato salad, mango and avocado – and a lovely little tahini coleslaw that I pulled together (recipe to come). And let’s not forget the all-important condiments! I must have been so busy eating, that I didn’t even get a picture of my burger creation – although Charlotte certainly wolfed hers down with gusto! As for dessert – I cheated and bought a sachertorte from our local patisserie (unpictured) – but decided last minute to make a lighter option too. And nothing says Summer better than a big bowl of fruit salad! Layered and dressed simply with some lime zest, juice and a drizzle of honey. Overall, we had a lovely time with our nearest and dearest, and spent the afternoon (and evening!)enjoying this beautiful season that is Summer. Boy how I am not looking forward to Winter! What about you? How did you spend this recent long weekend? PS – Entries close soon for my recent giveaway! Don’t forget to enter here.
Parties with friends, more than often, leads to that age-old request to “bring a plate”. Something to nibble on – perhaps a starter or even a sweet treat to end the evening. This last weekend, was no different. A cocktail party for some recent birthdays, where good food and good company is never in short supply. And my “bring a plate” was pretty straight forward, but possibly one of my favourites. A lovely little antipasto platter – using the best ingredients I could find at the markets. Savoury, no need to heat, and can be prepared in advance = winner! From left to right…. garlic and herb cheese log, sourdough breadsticks, pastrami, truffle salami (!!), smoked prosciutto, gherkins, marinated feta and some kalamata olives. The ‘hit’ at the party was definitely the truffle salami, which is no surprise because its pretty damn good As for me, I will always be a cheese girl, so tucked into the garlic and herb cheese log without hesitation. Definitely a winner when it comes to bringing a plate – all thanks to our local market! What about you? Any savoury ‘bring a plate’ ideas?
If there is one meal that I love to share with friends and family, it would have to be yum cha. A meal of “entrees”, served en-masse and served communally.
So this year for Father’s Day, I wanted to create a Yum Cha brunch of our very own at home. Partly because Charlotte’s lunch time nap can make it difficult to eat out, and partly because I had some tasty recipes that I wanted to try.
For the meal itself, we went with a collection of dishes. Some, like the pork and chicken that I could marinate in advance and then bake just before serving…
And others like pork buns, dumplings, spring rolls (purchased frozen) and greens, that required a bit of time-management to get them all heated and on the table at once.
But somehow it all came together, and we managed to get everything on the table at once. Then the feast began!
What Yum Cha meal would be complete without tea? And copious amounts of it.
I found some Green tea with jasmine that tasted just delightful – and we were sure to re-fill this little teapot on many occasions throughout the brunch. Oh but let’s not forget the other ‘adult’. beverages Chinese beer – in the cutest beer bottles I ever did see!
The added bonus being that they tasted pretty good too.
Not being the biggest fan of Asian desserts, I went with a more European end to our brunch. Profiteroles!
Filled with crème patisserie, and dipped in dark chocolate…
A delicious, albeit a not-so-traditional, end to our yum cha brunch.
(Recipe to come)
Perhaps not quite the same as our local yum cha haunt, where the food is fast paced, the tablecloths are plastic and the waitresses are more on the ‘pushy’ side than pleasant, I went with a simpler theme. Chopsticks (of course!) and lovely little bowls and plates that I picked up at the local Asian grocer.
Not strictly necessary…no. But I am always on the lookout for new pretty bowls
Finished with a freak out for my employer if this fortune cookie insight comes true…
Or perhaps it was just a hint that I should open a yum cha restaurant lol.
What about you? Are you a fan of yum cha?
We have been lucky enough to have done a lot of entertaining lately. For with rugby season in full swing (and us having the only Fox Sports subscription), there have been many an evening where our house was bustling with friends and family. And no little get together would be complete without food. Something to nibble on before dinner, while the game is playing and the enthusiasm grows. One of my all time favourite “plates” to serve on such occasions, is this crunch plate. So very simple, but so very colourful and tasty – not to mention rather healthy! A selection of crunchy vegetables (I used celery, carrot and capsicum), served with a creamy lemony hummus for dipping. A little break from the usual ‘footy food’ – that’s for sure! What about you? What is your favourite ‘nibble’ plate to serve when entertaining?
“Bring a plate to share”. I am sure you know the brief. I am sure that you also know that it can lead to days / weeks of deliberation as to what you should bring. On this particular occasion, we were invited to an afternoon cocktail party. I knew there would be lots of good food to share, so I didn’t want to go overboard. But I also wanted to try something new. I was limited on time, but not on inclination, and so these easy sweet tartlets came to be. But I have to confess, I opted for store bought pastry tartlets to cut down the preparation time (and, let’s be honest, my pastry making skills are still in their novice phase). I found these ones at The Essential Ingredient, and although they were a tad on the expensive side ($29.95 for 60 or so), the lady at the shop assured me they freeze well. All I had to do was think of the fillings. The first one was rather simple. Chocolate orange mousse with candied orange peel. Sounds fancy yes – but it really was rather easy. I made some candied orange zest – by poaching finely sliced orange peel in boiling water for 5 minutes twice, then simmered it in a mixture of sugar and water for another five. Then it was into the fridge overnight to allow the flavours to develop and the orange to lose any residual bitterness. As for the mousse, I cheated (again!) and made up a packet chocolate mousse with the addition of orange essence. The second variety, again, was really simple. Just lemon curd topped with a blueberry. On reflection, if I had had more time I would have topped the curd with some meringue, but time was short so the lemon / blueberry combination was a tasty alternative nonetheless. The third and final variety was a bit of a flop. I had intended to make caramel tarts with a chocolate garnish, but my store-bought caramel was too runny. Instead, I combined it with some whipped cream, topped with a sliced strawberry and a sprinkle of grated chocolate. And I think the finished result, when the three varieties were put together, was rather cute… From the right – chocolate orange, lemon curd and caramel. Tasty little morsels that I was pleased to see disappeared rather quickly at the party! A fancy little plate – with fairly minimal fuss… That’s my kinda ‘bring a plate’! What about you? What are your favourites when asked to ‘bring a plate’?
Last weekend, we were lucky enough to have all our closest family and friends in town to celebrate Miss C turning 1. We were also blessed with a warm Canberra day, perfect for an indoor / outdoor celebration, followed by a casual BBQ dinner.
And while I am sure there will be lots of pink and princesses in future parties, we decided on a slightly different theme and colour scheme for C’s first birthday – a cheeky monkey party!
I had a lot of fun putting together the dessert table for the party – using yellow and aqua as the main colours. Featuring – rocky road, lemon meringue pies, bananas, blue jelly beans, lolly pops and Miss C’s favourite – banana milkshakes!
As for the cake – I was inspired by the Martha Stewart monkey cake (link here), and the idea grew from there. This ended up being a HUGE cake, but was a lot of fun to put together.
I also made a smaller monkey to use as a “smash cake”, although he ended up being a little haphazard….
When decorating the rest of the house, we kept things relatively simple. Some bunches of yellow and aqua balloons scattered around the house, along with fresh yellow lilies and colourful lanterns lining our deck.
So how did the party go??? Food was eaten, the bubbly was flowing, songs were sung, cake was smashed, presents were opened and many cuddles were had.
And we were again reminded how very blessed we are to have such a close and loving family
For those of you that have been reading my blog for a while, I think you would know that I love to throw parties. And I tend to go a little overboard with the details. But I really do enjoy the planning and decorating side of things, and we all need to go a little overboard every now and then right?! So I guess it will come as no surprise that I’ve decided to go all out for Charlotte’s first birthday party this weekend. From the cake, to the decorations, to the food….yep it’s all planned. And Mr BBB has certainly been rolling his eyes quite a bit lately as the piles of party goodies begin to appear! But balloons, cakes and candles aside, with C’s first birthday fast approaching, I can’t help but feel nostalgic and reflective. And grateful. And blessed. Blessed to be able to celebrate this wonderful occasion with our nearest and dearest. For two years ago I was going through what I can only describe as chaos – with 2 pregnancy losses and a barrage of fertility tests. Yet here we are, now, blessed with a beautiful almost-1-year old baby girl that lights up my life every single day. And that, my friends, is most certainly cause for a wonderful celebration indeed! So let’s get this party started!! (well, on Saturday, at least….) All to be revealed next week
So I am aware I went a little MIA these past few days, but I assure you has been for good reason. Let’s not focus on the little Miss’ nap strikes and night time wakefulness (I think she is adjusting to this HOT weather the poor thing). No – let’s focus on the fun project I put together for my niece’s birthday party over the weekend. A dessert buffet! A little while ago, my sister in law asked if I would make the cake for my niece’s birthday party. I accepted with gusto (for I rarely need an excuse to get baking!?), and suggested that why don’t we perhaps go one better and put together a whole buffet of sugary delights. Well things sort of grew from there. With purple as the theme, I started collecting a few decorations. A couple glass jars (to hold the lollies and melting moments), some purple candles…. A string of purple bunting and a few homemade prints to put in frames…. I also grabbed a few packets of tissue paper, and with the help of YouTube, created these pom poms to hang above the table. Simple – yet effective! And slowly but surely we had ourselves the base for a fun party buffet! But decorations aside – let’s talk about the FOOD! For, let’s be honest, even the best decorated dessert buffet will only work if it is laden with sugary treats. In our case, it was a combination of homemade and store bought. Starting with macarons… Which I must confess I purchased instead of making. Next up – my homemade rocky road… And crème de menthe brownies, made by my sister in law… And finally – melting moments and a jar of lollies (store bought)… But no party would be a party without cake. And this party was no different! The centrepiece of the buffet was a homemade layered vanilla cake, that I iced with chocolate buttercream and topped with chocolate dipped strawberries. Finished with a wafer edge – and held together with purple paper and ribbon. Perhaps not the easiest cake to slice (on reflection), but seeing as we had none left by the end of the party I’m calling it a win! So there you have it – my sugary weekend adventures! Great weather, great company, great food! What more could a gal want?! What about you? What is your favourite dessert?
Since Father’s Day, life seems to have hit me at full speed – with work, a presentation to give (work), 3 challenges completed in TOH 20 day challenge (details later this week), a baby not sleeping very well at night, a new business ‘idea’ that is probably crazy but I am thinking about it anyway and, you know, just life in general. But thankyou for all your sweet comments about our Father’s Day lunch. I thought I would share some of the details with you. Decorations Starting with my favourite decorations – fresh blooms. A bunch of yellow lilies and some other yellow flowers - that I placed in some recycled jars I had on hand. I found this print online (somewhere?) and popped it in a frame for the dessert table. Finished with the addition of some homemade bunting – and of course – the cake. The bunting was rather easy – created simply with some leftover scrapbooking paper, ribbon and double sided tape. The menus and cake label were created with the help of picmonkey.com – printed onto paper then glued to some cardboard. Simple, cheap, yet effective. Food As for the food – the markets were my saviour. Between the deli, the butcher and the greengrocer – the produce spoke for itself. Starting with the antipasto platter – which came together in 5 minutes (or less!) Prosciutto, truffle salami, stuffed olives, marinated bocconcini and some crackers. While the side dishes were made in advance inspired by these recipes – Carrot and chickpea pilaf – brown rice used in place of white. Eggplant, walnut and feta salad – the key being good quality feta! And of course, the main meal, cooked by my two trusty BBQ chefs… Butterflied leg of lamb – that I had marinated in olive oil, garlic and cumin overnight. And finally – the star of the show – that ever impressive kit kat cake! Two GF vanilla cakes, layered between chocolate butter icing. Finished with the kit kat edging and a ribbon, and topped with M & Ms. Again – an easy yet impressive addition to our lunch! But I don’t think you can go too wrong when it comes to that much chocolate. Between my trip to the markets, and the assistance of some items I had at home (glass jars, ribbon, paper etc) – this party really came together with not a lot of fuss. And I certainly had a lot of fun planning and preparing it (although I am a little strange like that!) What about you? Do you like planning parties?
We had a truly wonderful day yesterday in celebration of Father’s Day – and in particular – Mr BBB’s first Father’s Day. The sun was shining, Spring was in the air, food was abundant, the company was grand and baby cuddles were had by all. A perfect day really. But I’ll let the photos do the talking… A happy Father’s Day indeed