The festive season traditionally brings an opportunity for family and friends to come together to eat, drink and be merry. While this year may be a little more intimate than usual, hosting any number of guests can be stressful and BBC Lifestyle’s Come Dine With Me South Africa shows exactly that.
The ups and downs of the hilarious tv show, currently airing on BBC Lifestyle (DStv channel 174) on Wednesdays at 8PM, inspired Chef Nti and Chef Naqiyah Mayat to share some sanity-saving festive season hosting tips to ensure this December is one to remember.
What’s your plan?
According to Chef Naqiyah, it’s all in the planning! “Spend time sourcing inspirational images online and finding the ideal recipes to plan your menu. Then plan your shopping and menu preparation so that everything is laid out ahead of time. Setting your table the night before is also a great timesaver.’’
Chef Nti agrees, “If you can start the day before with your prep, do it – chop, peel, and then stick it in the fridge so it’s all ready for you the next day.”
What’s for dinner?
The usual festive favourites – gammon, roast beef, turkey/chicken – are always a win. If you plan to serve meat to your guests, Chef Nti advises that you let the meat rest, out of the fridge, for approximately 30 minutes, then season with salt and pepper two minutes before cooking on high heat. ‘’Adding salt too early will absorb all the moisture from your meat. Once cooked, let it rest before plating.”
If you’re crunched for time, Chef Naqiyah suggests serving fish as a delicious and quick win. “Not only is fish easy to cook, the trick is to pair it with a good herb combination – bring dill, parmesan and fresh cream to the boil with some garlic and butter and pour it over your fish for a simple but memorable dish.”
To store buy or not to store buy, that is the question
Although many Come Dine With Me South Africa contestants generally frown on the use of store-bought items such as pasta, breads, pastry etc in favour of freshly made versions, Chef Nti disagrees. “We lead such busy lives, if you can get away with convenience, go for it! I believe in spending quality time with guests when you’re hosting. My favourite store-bought dessert is malva pudding, you can either make the custard or use store bought then add a bit of fruit and plate it beautifully.”
Chef Naqiyah also has a quick and easy dessert go-to. “An Eton mess is a no-fuss option that looks chic on any table. Crumble up store bought meringue, add whipped cream and strawberries. Mix it all together and put it into individual servings, and voila!’’
Keep the décor simple
“Never underestimate the power of a white-styled dinner table setting,” says Chef Naqiyah. Scattered with small décor additions in festive season classic greens and reds, such as candles or small flower bouquets, will complete your look.
“Garnish for drinks can also be used as part of your décor,” she continues. Sticking to your red and green colour scheme, plate-up some berries and herbs (thyme, rosemary or mint) to add a pop of colour to your table. It also allows guests to experiment with different flavours, which adds an interactive experience.
Extend the experience
The experience doesn’t have to end when your guests head home. Chef Nti loves surprising guests with a small take away. “I make my own sauces, which is a great gift if you pour it into a mason jar and label it beautifully. Make sure you also have some low-cost packaging for guests to take away leftovers to enjoy the next day.”
Chef Naqiyah says that extending the experience for her guests is key. “Consider packing them a little breakfast box for the morning after, which includes something small like a homemade muffin, so that it can be enjoyed with coffee the next morning.” It’s the simple and thoughtful things that people remember and appreciate.
For more useful tips, watch Chef Nti, Chef Naqiyah and Hulisani Ravele during the latest BBC Lifestyle Lounge session on YouTube.
End your year on a high note by watching the season finale of part 1 of Come Dine With Me South Africa – Wednesday 15th December, 8pm, BBC Lifestyle (DStv channel 174).
If you’ve missed any episodes, catch the repeats on DStv Now and catch-up.
The final six episodes will return in the new year from Wednesday 9th February.
Image Courtesy: Supplied