We would like to wish all our readers a Warm Winter!
Welcome to our June 2020 edition of What’s Cooking in your Kitchen!
How to host a successful dinner party….
Plan your theme and menu
Something fun g, theme, Murder Dinner, Shipwreck, Formal. Decide on your menu and look up some recipes. Magazines are great places to find the latest trendy foodie ideas and they also have great ideas for table setting decoration etc The whole experience is what makes the dinner successful, not just the food.
Decide on guest list
Sometimes it happens that you are forced to mix people who do not know each other (e.g. for your birthday you might want to invite work colleagues friends, family and Book Club Girls) and sometimes it is better to only have people who know each other. (E.g. when hosting a business dinner only invite relevant people who have common ground)
Make your invites relevant to your theme to set the tone. E.g .advise dress code. Don’t be shy to say formal. Woman guests often love dressing up in those expensive outfits that they have only ever worn once and there is nothing nicer than a guy in a Tux !
Before rushing out, manipulate your menu to suit your guests.
Make sure you know what your guests’ special dietary requirements are.
Do not go out of your way for say a Vegetarian or diabetic, rather make the whole menu suitable to those people. Otherwise you will be making 3 different dishes for each course. e.g. for Dessert with Diabetics use fruit as the main part with say Pavlova which you can leave off their plate. For Vegetarians make sure your starch and vegetables are sufficient and then just leave off the meat. e.g. Risotto Rice Starters e.g. in winter make a Cream of asparagus soup or something like Feta and spinach in Phyllo parcels.
Buffets are easier than you think, and you can often purchase many things beforehand.
I did a Ship wreck housewarming earlier this year and put huge banana leaves on the buffet and then put dried fruit, pretzels and nuts as starters and snacks combined.
Main course was Paella made as the guests where there by the guests who all offered to help. For Seafood allergy guests I did the same dish as for Paella but no shell fish. Served with a huge green salad.
Dessert was a range of freshly sliced fruit (eg strawberries, kiwi fruit, banana (lemon juice), Peach, pear), coconut pieces, marshmallows also in banana leaves and a bowl of hot chocolate sauce in a fondue.
Almost everything was self- service so I could enjoy the evening as well.
Look in your cupboard and then only buy necessities. Draw up a list, otherwise you will be stressed when you see the price of ingredients and when you remember that you still have to wash up and clean up afterwards, you might consider hiring a restaurant or caterer instead. Remind yourself that some of the herbs, spices and sauces etc will not be eaten all at once and will form part of your new cupboard selection for future entertaining.
Do what you can beforehand. The day or even the weekend before. For example, if you are making a cassata for dessert this can be done well in advance and refrozen.
Buy vegetables ready Chopped. It takes ages to cut up butternut. It may cost a little more but it’s worth it
Breads are easier to buy then make and some of the delis and bakeries now have an amazing selection. A piping hot bread served with Dukkha, balsamic vinegar and olive oil makes a light starter and is extremely easy to have ready before. Just bring out the bread reheated from the oven. Also, the bread smell will wow your guests.
Enlist the family
If you are lucky enough to have kids or a husband, get them to put out the glasses, get the ice into the ice bucket and even to fold the serviettes, The kids love helping and it gives them something to keep them out from under your feet.
I often use my son to serve the cocktails on arrival. I dress him up in whatever the theme is, and the guests are amazed.
Then put on some videos, hotdogs and ice cream and the children are happy to leave you to enjoy the rest of your evening.
Keep something to do when guests arrive.
I once saw a woman do this on TV and I thought she must be mad. So, I tried it and it works really well.
Leave something still to be done when the guests first arrive. No matter how successful they are they immediately feel at home in your home and it is a great ice breaker. Something as simple as tossing the salad or adding the croutons just before serving. They feel like they are helping, and they always offer to help so next time say yes please ……
You must have:
New talking points at each dinner. E.g. different placemats. I recently took the idea from a magazine to use kitchen tiles and used them as placemats the guests were amazed. Fold the serviettes in a unique way. Use different candles or flower arrangements. Use fresh baby lemons, ivy and even sea sand on your table. It makes the guests talk and eases your stress.
A warming facility: I would never cope without a hostess trolley. If you do not have one, it keeps plates and food hot, so I never panic about serving cold food.
Serve the starter instead of a snack otherwise it ends up being 4 courses and you guests are too full to enjoy the main course.
Always end with coffee (a choice including decaf these days) or port and some biscotti or chocolates. It rounds off the evening and shows your guests how much thought you have put into the evening.
You are sure to get calls the next day…..
Last but not least surprise your guests,
Always have something up your sleeve which they were not expecting:
A waitress serving the hors d ‘oeuvres as starters on a tray during drinks.
A make it yourself cocktail on arrival. Set up the cocktail table with mixers shakers and the recipe and make them make their own.
A small homemade gift of for example fudge to take home
One of the best evenings I ever did was invite my guests to dinner and when they arrived told them we were having a Jamie Oliver evening. Took all the couples and mixed them up. They were skeptical at first but, I had set up the entire dining room table with all the ingredients and 1 recipe for every 2 people. They then had to get up and demonstrate cooking the meal and then everyone tasted each course. It was such a success that the last people left at 4am the next morning and everyone said it was the best dinner they had ever been too.
I hope I have inspired you to invite those people around who you have been putting off having and have some fun yourself!!!!
Hot Tip of the Month – Competition Time:
Trivia Questions: Win a Cake Baking Course! Value: $99
Email your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Name the country that these 3 food items (below) have originated from?
Rooibos tea, Sundried tomatoes, peppadews
2. What is the difference between a kebab and a sosatie?
3. Name the chef that Jamie Oliver calls his mentor?
4. What is Gazpacho?
5. Could a nectarine tree also have 1 branch producing peaches on?
6. Where does the expression “cool as a cucumber” come from?
Student Life at International Culinary Studio
Let’s hear from one of our students:
Special Monthly Offer
Cook up a Storm This Winter School Holiday
Give your budding chef the confidence to learn new skills and grow their love of all things culinary with our Winter School Holiday or Baking & Cooking Programme.
A fun and interactive way to get cooking from home, using common ingredients, and everyday kitchen equipment. Submit your finished products online to get feedback from our Chef Instructor.
Winter School Holiday Programme
Normally $49 now $30
To enrol, simply click on the link above, add to cart and use Coupon Code Schoolswinter2020
Baking & Cooking Programme
Normally $80 now $40
To enrol, simply click on the link above, add to cart and use Coupon Code Schoolsb&c2020
We have been blown away with the level of skill on our Facebook Kids Creative Cooking page during lockdown and invite you to post your holiday programme results here – at the end of the school holidays one lucky winner will receive 2 x movie passes!
Meet our Operations Manager Ingrid Ovenstone
Ingrid is our Operations Manager at International Culinary Studio. Born in South Africa, she soon moved to Zimbabwe and as an adult to the UK, where she has spent most of her professional life.
Ingrid brings with her more than 21 years of experience, as a versatile business professional, who has worked on many projects on a global level.
She has gained a lot of exposure working in international markets, and demonstrating expertise in helping businesses to make the right decisions at the right time. After starting a few businesses, successfully growing them and selling them, Ingrid moved onto starting her own business coaching enterprise.
One of Ingrid’s passions is seeing women entrepreneurs empowered and she is coming alongside Cheryl Nesbitt, our Director of Studies, to increase the capacity of ICS. She will help spearhead the continued growth of ICS as a world leader in culinary qualifications globally.
Ingrid has a love for Giraffes, and actively supports giraffe foundations globally to help get the graceful giraffes off the endangered list. Outside of International Culinary Studio, you will find Ingrid spending time with her husband of the past 32 years, Wayne, and engaging with her two children, Byron and Amy. Family is the most important thing to her, as such, we welcome her into our ICS family.
Q&A with Ingrid
What is your favorite Winter Meal?
Slow 7 hour cooked lamb roast with Yorkshire pudding, veggies and roasties
Do you have a favorite Soup?
Yes my mother’s Tomato Soup although no one makes it like she used to – it was delicious
What spice do you use a lot of in Winter?
Cinnamon and tumeric. I tend to use them a lot in my morning smoothies – keeps me healthy and the colds at bay.
Who cooks the most in your home?
Definitely me although my hubby will always peel and cut the veggies for me
If you were to have a celebrity chef for a meal in your home who would you pick and why?
Gary Mehigan. He was a great masterchef judge, jovial, fair and just seems like a down to earth kind of guy, who has experienced heartache and success.
Food Safety Advice
Can the virus be transmitted through food?
Experience with recent acute respiratory diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) suggests that people are unlikely to be infected with the virus through food. There isn’t evidence to date of this happening with the 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Coronaviruses cannot grow in food – they need a host (animal or human) to grow in. Cooking for at least 30 minutes at 60°C kills SARS, which is a similar coronavirus.
Coronaviruses are most commonly passed between animals and people and from person-to-person contact.
The source of the COVID-19 virus is believed to be animals, but the exact source is not yet known.
The virus is commonly transmitted through direct mucous membrane contact by infectious droplets, e.g. breathing in airborne virus from the sneeze of someone who is infected, or through hand to mouth/nose contact after fingers have touched a contaminated surface.
Investigations in China are continuing to identify the source of the outbreak and ways it can be transmitted to people.
What can food handlers do?
It is possible that infected food handlers could introduce the virus to the food they are in contact with by coughing and sneezing, or through hand contact. However, this is unlikely to occur if food handlers in food businesses and in the home follow standard, good personal hygiene practices that reduce the risk of transmission of most foodborne illnesses. These practices include:
- proper hand hygiene
- safe food practices
- cough/cold hygiene practices
- avoiding close contact, when possible, with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
Food handlers must wash hands (even if they have no disease symptoms):
- before starting work
- before handling cooked or ready-to-eat food
- after handling or preparing raw food
- after handling waste
- after cleaning duties
- after using the toilet
- after blowing their nose, sneezing or coughing
- after eating, drinking, or smoking
- after handling money.
Good hygiene and cleaning will also prevent cross-contamination between raw or undercooked foods and cooked or ready-to-eat foods in the kitchen or service area.
It is important that food handlers inform their employer, avoid preparing food for other people, and seek medical advice if they think they have symptoms of respiratory illness.
Employers may ask staff to stay home until after medical advice is given. Similarly, if staff have been overseas to affected regions or in contact with persons who have, they should inform their employer and seek appropriate medical advice.
What can food business owners/managers do?
It is unlikely that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food, and there isn’t evidence to date of this happening. Usual good hygienic manufacturing practices and thorough cooking for cooked products will minimise the risk of transmission for any foodborne illness.
Employers still have an important role to play in preventing foodborne illness. They should:
- ensure staff are aware of the COVID-19 issue
- stay informed of staff who have been overseas to affected regions or in contact with persons who have, and seek appropriate medical advice
- ensure that food handlers are trained appropriately in food hygiene practices appropriate to their premises
- ensure effective supervision of food handlers to reinforce hygienic practices
- ensure that appropriate facilities are provided for hand washing or sanitation (e.g. alcohol gels/wipes) to enable food handlers to practice good hygiene
- ensure that food handlers and external contractors are aware that they must report any signs/symptoms of respiratory illness before or during work
- keep vigilant and ensure that food handlers and other staff are not ill and are fit to work
- ensure that staff with symptoms stay home until medical advice is obtained
- fully support staff through access to medical advice and during convalescence.
Tomato and Oregano Soup with Crostini
4 cups chopped fresh ripe tomatoes
1 medium onion, diced
2 whole cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 table spoons of tomato paste
2 cups of chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon cracked/milled black pepper
½ teaspoon table salt
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
- In a pot, over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion, oregano and garlic. Sauté until the onion become translucent.
- Add the tomato paste and sauté for a further 2 minutes or so with the heat turned up.
- Add the, tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to a gentle simmer for about 20 minutes for all the flavours to come together.
- Remove from heat and with a stick blender, blend and then run the mixture through fine strainer into a large bowl. Discard any bits left over in the strainer.
- In a pot, you can use the same pot once rinsed out, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux, cooking until the roux is a medium brown. Gradually whisk in a bit of the tomato mixture, so that no lumps form, then stir in the rest. Season with brown sugar and salt and milled black pepper and adjust to taste.
- To serve, add a sprig of fresh oregano and a dollop of crème fraiche served with crispy sourdough bread on the side.