“Summer in Australia is always a great time to entertain guests at home,” says Matt. “The warmer weather means you can really take advantage of outdoor spaces and everyone is more relaxed because of the holiday period.”
Here are Matt’s top tips to help you be the hostess with the mostest this summer.
1. Be prepared
Getting prepared doesn’t just mean planning your menu and buying all your ingredients ahead of time - though that is important! It’s also a good idea to make time a couple of days before and check you’re stocked up on all the basics, including gas or charcoal if you’re using the barbecue. Then you can prepare anything that can be done the day before the party, including marinating meats and making salads.
2. Get the right tools
Having the right tools can take the hassle out of the day, so you can spend more time entertaining and less time in the kitchen. Invest in an outdoor rolling prep table, so if you’re using the barbie, the rest of your ingredients can live outside too. A good sized Esky is also paramount, not just for drinks but it can keep all your fresh ingredients cool! Another favourite is my Thermomix TM6 which has 20 different cooking functions, so I can use it to prepare multiple courses. I usually use it to make my dips, rubs and sauces for meat the night before, then I use it to make homemade ice cream for dessert. It’s super quick and means I have more time in the morning to make salads and other sides.
3. Keep it simple
Entertaining in summer is different to other times of the year because everyone is outside enjoying the sun, making it more casual and laid back. There’s no need for fancy decorations or complicated food. Feeding a large group also isn’t a good time to try a new recipe, so choose simple, full-proof recipes that you are confident cooking.
4. Seafood for summer
A staple in the Aussie diet, seafood is my go-to protein for summer entertaining. Not only does it keep guests cooler in warm weather, but the seafood is also light enough for everyone to snack on without getting too full with the days being longer. I love serving fresh sashimi or keeping it super simple with oysters and prawns on ice. They’re easy to eat and can also be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge until guests arrive.
5. Canapes and small snacks
Speaking of food that is easy to eat, cocktail snacks are perfect for when you’re entertaining outdoors. In summertime everyone wants to stand around and chat with their drinks in hand, so canapes are a convenient way to keep everyone fed while the mains are cooking. My favourite one-handed options are sliders, or anything on a skewer. I love homemade dips to serve with cheese and crackers. Homemade ice blocks are also a cute summer treat and they’re easy to make the day before with silicone moulds.
6. Sharing is caring
When it comes to the main event, it’s best to serve everything banquet style for everyone to fill their own plates. Sharing platters also suit the more laid back mood, meaning everyone doesn’t need to sit at the table and can still stand around while eating. Make your life easier and buy nice baking trays so they can double as serving platters and you’re not creating extra washing up. Not only can guests eat at their own pace, they can also grab as many servings as they want!
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Love the idea of a dessert platter? Watch how to create one yourself: