My brother, his wife and beautiful 2 year old daughter stayed with us recently on their way home after a trip to Fiji. T and I went to Fiji in December last year and had a fabulous time, so much so I can’t wait to go back. You want to view photos of our trip in my four part Fiji special here.
This was the first time they had come to visit since I’d been living in Brisbane, so I was looking forward to their visit and spending time with their daughter and gorgeous and full of energy. For their visit I wanted to ensure that whilst I had some delicious home cooked food available, but also wanted to ensure I wasn’t spending all my time in the kitchen as I wanted to spend as much time with them as I could.
One of the things I’d decided on was a platter of cheeses and dips and I thought I’d make some crackers to go on the platter instead of using store bought crackers. I’d recently purchased Ina Garten’s lovely Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook and settled on making the Parmesan and Thyme crackers from the book.
To serve with the crackers, along with the cheeses I planned to serve (which were some lovely Jindi Triple Cream Brie Mersey Valley Cheddar and Ashgrove Tassie Trio) , I made a roast capsicum and basil dip. This dip was so quick and easy to make that I wondered why we settle for buying pre-made dips from the supermarket. Not only was this dip easy to make it tasted so much better than anything that comes from a supermarket.
Everyone loves a cheese platter, but it was made so much nicer by having some homemade additions to it and the dip and crackers went down a treat with my family. I also served some Ginger Spiced Cupcakes and made Asian Noodle Soup, which is quick and easy but also packed with flavour.
I loved the chance to catch up with my brother, his wife and daughter who loved the toy horse I gave her during her visit which she quickly named “Nay Nay” – so cute!
When you are preparing for visitors, what are your favourite things to prepare in advance?
Parmesan and thyme crackers
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten
120g of unsalted butter
100g of grated Parmesan
1 1/4 cups of plain flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves,chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons of water
1. Place the butter into a bowl of an electric mixer and using a paddle attachment and mix until creamy.
2. Switch the mixer to it’s lowest setting and add the parmesan, flour, salt, water and thyme and mix to combine.
3. Flour your counter top and take the mixture from the bowl and roll into a log. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.
5. Remove the dough from the fridge and place onto your floured counter top and cut to the crackers from the log at the thickness you desire.
5. Place the crackers on a sheet pan and sprinkle the pepper over the top and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden.
Roasted capsicum and basil dip
3 large red capsicums
250g of cream cheese
1/4 cup of chopped basil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and place the capsicum into a roasting pan lined with baking paper and roast until the outer skin blackens. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
2. Once cooled, peel away the skin and remove the center of the capsicum (which should come out easily if you wiggle the stem) and discard.
3. Roughly chop the capsicum and add it to a food processor along with the cream cheese, garlic and salt and process until smooth.
4. Add the basil leaves and pulse the mixture in your food processor to combine before pouring out to a serving bowl.