It is true that there are more get-togethers at this time of year than any other. When many events require platters of food to share, we thought it would be helpful to share three recipes for effortless entertaining. See here barbequed broccoli, caprese skewers and spiced mini pavlovas by Natalie Zee.
Photography and recipes by Natalie Zee.
BBQ Broccoli Skewers With Garlic Yogurt And Olive Dressing
2-3 heads of broccoli, roughly chopped into large, but thin (about 1cm thick) pieces (including some of the stem)
10 long timber skewers, soaked for 2-3 hours in water
Lemon, to serve
1/2 a clove of garlic, finely grated (a microplane works well)
1 cup of plain, Greek-style yoghurt
2 tbsp of olive oil
1/4 of a cup of pitted and chopped Kalamata olives
Salt, to taste.
Thread the broccoli onto the skewers, taking great care as a little force can be required through the stems (to avoid this, you can boil them for a minute before hand).
Drizzle the broccoli and BBQ (or griddle pan) with olive oil.
Cook on a medium heat for 10-12 minutes, turning frequently, or until tender, being sure not to use a heat too high and burn the outside before cooking the inside.
To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients and stir well.
To serve, place the hot, cooked skewers on a platter and squeeze over some fresh lemon. Drizzle with the dressing and serve the rest on the side for dipping.
CAPRESE SKEWERS with garlic dressing
2 stems of mini truss tomatoes, tops removed
1 tub of baby bocconcini cheese
1 bunch of fresh basil leaves
Small wooden skewers (about 16), to serve
2 tbsp of pine nuts, toasted, to serve
1 bulb of garlic
1/4 a cup of good quality olive oil
2 tbsp of white wine vinegar
Salt, to taste.
Roast the garlic in an oven at about 180c for 40-45 minutes, or until soft all the way through. Set aside to cool for at least an hour.
To make the skewers, randomly thread the bocconcini, tomatoes and folded single basil leaves onto the skewers until about 3/4 full (leaving enough room to pick up the skewers with your hands).
To make the dressing, cut the end off the roasted garlic bulb with a serrated knife and squeeze out the garlic clove paste into a small bowl.
Add half of the olive oil and all of the vinegar. Whisk until it begins to go thick and creamy. Add the remaining olive oil and whisk until a thinner, creamy consistency is achieved. Add salt to taste.
To serve, place the skewers on a large platter, drizzle with the dressing (serving the rest on the side for dipping), and sprinkle with pine nuts.
Spiced Mini Pavlovas with Cranberry Topping
16 store-bought meringue nests or medium-sized meringues
8 store-bought mini pavlovas, or one small pavlova
Fresh mint, to serve
Cranberry Topping Ingredient
1 ½ cups of dried cranberries
Rind of half an orange
1/3 of a cup of brown sugar
Ginger Cream Ingredient
600mls of whipping cream
10 pieces of crystallized ginger
1 tsp of cinnamon
To make the cranberry topping, add the dried cranberries, orange juice and orange rind to a small saucepan and cover with 1 cup of boiling water. Allow to sit, covered, for 30 minutes.
Once the cranberries are soaked, add the brown sugar to the saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring regularly. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the topping sauce has a syrupy consistency (not too runny). Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
To make the spiced cream, finely grate the ginger and set aside. Whip the cream on a high speed until soft peaks form. Add the ginger and cinnamon, and whip for a few more seconds, just until the spice is combined.
To assemble, take one meringue nest and spoon a teaspoon of cream into the bottom. Take one mini pavlova (or a spoon of your large pavlova) and place it on top, then sandwich with a second meringue nest.
Top the pavlova with more spiced cream, leaving a little less cream in the middle to form a nest.
Spoon over the cranberry topping and garnish with mint. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Serve immediately, or store the cream and cranberry topping separately in the fridge to assemble the following day.