We all love doing it…or is it the idea of doing it that we are more in love with?
You know the fantasy…beautifully set long tables resting under huge leafy trees, mismatched timber chairs and lovingly collected glass jars a glow with tea lights. Family and friends all dressed in neutral shades of linen sipping Prosecco and small children relishing the opportunity to be outside playing bocce together amicably.
The in the style of the Women’s Weekly gathering is incredibly rare and extremely difficult to pull off . I suggest abandoning the fantasy and instead of having a melt down because the Balinese souvenir stubby holders are being circulated and children with cherries are running through the good lounge room, set yourself up for success with a little planning and keeping things simple, Mamacino style.
My tips for simple entertaining:
- Reduce your work load by asking guests to bring a plate. People love to do this, they want to contribute! They also like to be guided as to what to bring so don’t be afraid to delegate so as to avoid having several large salads but no dessert!
- If children are invited, think carefully about the time your party is to start. For families with young children, a brunch might work well or afternoon anti-pasta and drinks on the deck. If it is to be an evening affair, set up the lounge room with blankets, pillows and dvd’s to encourage little ones to relax (and hopefully go to sleep!).
- Prepare as much of your menu before the party begins. Wash veggies, prepare platters, make dips, and if you are going to create that amazing raw dessert, remember most of them require you to begin by soaking nuts for 8 hours first!
- Think of assembling food rather than cooking recipes…smashed avocado with lemon juice as a dip, big green salads with an interesting dressing, big platters of summer berries, chilled grapes and stone fruit for dessert…you get the idea!
- Put out a basket or box for recycling and encourage guests to put empty bottles straight in to reduce cleaning time later.
- Use dishwasher friendly crockery and cutlery and save the good crystal for a more intimate occasion.
- Suggest a BBQ at the park or the beach if the weather is fine.
- Don’t forget to have fun! Enjoy the time with friends, relax, laugh and eat! A simple, relaxed affair is always one to remember.
Roasted Vegetable Spelt Pizza
Pizzas are a good option for a party as long as you don’t have to many people to cater for! We have a wood fire oven in our back yard and it always gets well used over the summer months. A few pizzas, a big green salad and a glass of cold white wine followed by a big platter of chilled fruit is usually as complicated as my party menus get!
Makes 2 large or 4 medium sized pizzas
I always make my pizza dough by hand but if you can do it in the Thermomix or Food Processor, go for it!
2 1/4 cups of white spelt flour
2 tsps dried yeast
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 T olive oil
1cup warm water
Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix through. Add the oil and almost all of the water (you can add more if you need it as you are mixing your dough). Mix well with your hands until the dough begins to come together. Tip out on to a smooth surface, dusted with a little spelt flour and knead, energetically until the dough becomes a smooth, round ball. I always find sipping a glass of Italian wine helps perfect this process.
Lightly oil a large bowl and place dough inside it. Cover with a clean tea towel and put in a warm spot of your kitchen to rise. This will take about an hour.
Once the dough has risen, you can divide it into two or four pieces and press it out with your fingers into a rounded shape. Use a rolling pin if you like your dough thin and crispy. Place on trays to be adorned with roast vegetables.
This could not be an easier thing to do! Use any vegetables you like but I always go for mediterranean style ones like zucchini, red capsicum, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, pumpkin, red onion. Chop them into chunks and place on a lined baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkling of oregano. Add a couple of garlic cloves you have just squashed with the back of your knife. Roast in the oven at 180C for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are softened and golden.
What else to do with Roast Vegetables
- Combine them with baby spinach and pre cooked brown rice or quinoa and a hummus/yoghurt dressing for a filling and delicious salad.
- Use them as a filling for a sandwich or wrap adding in extra fresh greens and maybe some feta or goat cheese.
- Serve with grilled meat, poultry or seafood.
Assembling your pizza – the Mamacino way!
Open a tin or bottle or Italian chopped tomatoes and add a glug of olive oil and a good pinch of oregano. Stir through, then let sit on the bench for about 15 minutes.
Once your dough is rolled out on placed on lined trays, add the tomato sauce generously but make sure not to let it drizzle over the edge of your pizza!
If you like cheese, add a good handful of grated or sliced mozzarella now.
Add a layer of your roasted vegetable making sure you get a good colour combination!
Add a few chunks of goat cheese if you are that way inclined.
Dollop over some pesto for extra deliciousness – there is a great recipe for pesto in my book Mamacino: Kids in the Kitchen
Bake in a preheated 200C oven for about 20 minutes, or until the base is crunchy and the top is golden and bubbling.
Serve with a big green salad and enjoy!
Have you ever had an entertaining disaster? I’d love to hear it! Share your story with us in the comments below.
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