While it still might be chilly in many parts of the country, the earlier sunrises and budding blooms confirm spring is definitely here. As the weather warms up and we spend more time outdoors, thoughts turn to catching up with friends and family over brunch, a midday barbeque or kid-free dinner party.
To help you create an inviting outdoor atmosphere, we’ve put together 10 easy entertaining tips and one delicious recipe that are sure to satisfy your fussiest friends and family!
Top 10 entertaining tips
- Flowers – create a striking flower feature along the entire length of the table, or a whimsical hanging display like the one above that has been fashioned from potted plants.
- Tablewear – mix and match with a colourful collection of homewares, like the Barel Designs collection, or choose a neutral range and contrast with a centrepiece of bold spring blooms.
- Seating – if weather permits, create a temporary outdoor room using comfy cushions, ottomans and rugs alongside your outdoor setting.
- Sculptures – create visual interest in outdoor areas with garden art and architectural plant species like potted agaves. Here are some tips on getting outdoor areas ready for when guests arrive.
- Lighting – create ambiance after dark by illuminating big trees with uplights or creating cosy spaces with downlights. And just because it’s getting warmer doesn’t mean that fire features, like EcoSmart’s Glow model pictured above, can’t be used to add warmth and intimacy to outdoor spaces.
- Drinkware – leave the plastic cups for the kids and invest in outdoor drinkware that’s both practical and stylish.
- Music – choose your selection before guests arrive or, if you have an MP3 player or iTunes, create playlists especially for the occasion. Here’s 101 party tunes to get you started.
- Beverages – to save you running indoors throughout the night, keep drinks outside in a cooler (or wheelbarrow) filled with ice. Harvey Norman has a broad selection but I’m particularly partial to this retro one from Kincrome.
- Shade sail – prevent your party from being washed out or sun soaked with a shade sail or giant umbrella. Bunnings has a great selection, as does Shelta and Made in the Shade.
- Neighbours – notify neighbours at least one week prior to your party, especially if it looks like lasting well into the night, so they can make plans (or buy earplugs!)
Quinoa, olive and caramelised onion loaf
Celebrated healthy chef and HomeHub’s latest columnist Samantha Gowing from Food Health Wealth has been experimenting with gluten free, high protein quinoa for years. She says this delicious loaf is great to have on hand when friends drop in, and also makes a healthy lunchbox snack for the kids.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 large brown onions, peeled
- 2 stalks fresh rosemary, leaves only
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon aluminium-free baking powder
- 1 cup white quinoa, washed well, drained
- 1 cup water
- 1 dessertspoon organic butter
- 1 tablespoon psyllium husk
- ½ teaspoon Olsson sea salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon harissa paste
- 1 cup organic full fat cow’s milk
- ½ cup semi dried tomatoes
- 1 cup pitted black olives I use this brand
- 1 dessertspoon pepitas
- 1 dessertspoon assorted sprouts
- Extra pitted black olives, sliced
- Preheat oven to 170 C
- Line a loaf pan with baking paper, no oil required
- In afood processor, fit the chopping blade
- Finely slice the onions using the slicing blade at 1.5 or very fine
- Heat oil in a large skillet or frypan
- Add onions and rosemary and sauté on amedium-low heat for 10 minutes
- Be careful notto brown. Add sugar and vinegar
- Continue to sauté on low heat for10-15 minutes until caramelised
- In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup of waterand 1 cup of quinoa to the boil
- Reduce heat and simmer until par boiled. About 7 minutes
- Transfer the quinoa to the onions, coverwith a lid and remove from heat
- This will allow the quinoa to steam and absorb the richand sweet flavour of the onions
- Stir in the butteruntil melted. Set aside to cool
- Meanwhile, fit thewhisk attachment to the food processor
- Whisk eggs with harissa. Slowly add the milk and whisk until light and fluffy
- Change attachments to the double scraper beater
- Add the cooled quinoa and onion mixture to the eggs
- Add psyllium husk and salt and beat gently on low speed
- Fold in theolives and semi dried tomatoes
- Transfer the mixture to the lined loaf pan
- Smooth evenly with a spatula
- Scatter the top withpepitas, sprouts and olives
- Bake for 40 minutes or until aninserted skewer comes out clean
- Allow to cool on a cake rack, then lift from loaf pan
- Cut and serve when cool with a slice of good cheese, tomatoes and watercress
Above hero image courtesy of Ikea