Picking up where we left off last time, which if you haven’t read up check out part one and an Alice in Wonderland themed grazing table.
This table was for a Sunday afternoon event and it has a little bit of everything to please a diverse crowd. But it does the job of showing off some of the upcoming tips I’ve got!
Colour, textures and height. We’ve all heard it, we eat with our eyes first. Even though the colour scheme was basic white for this party we used our centerpiece platter to make it pop. Edible flowers, bright vegetables, coloured wraps. There’s a bit of drama set in just using base white and one mahogany tray in the center. But I can also critique this table, it lacks height. There is a bit in there with the upright glass cylinders but this would have been better with some actual risers.
Portioning is important. Remember we want people to feel comfortable trying a little bit of everything so keeping things down to bite size or a few bites for sandwiches is important.
Flavours; we have a lot of different flavours going on but many of them appear in dips, spreads and other additions that were worked in. Because this was for a larger, diverse crowd the goal was to provide a canvas that they could add to themselves. If you put onions in the sandwich, it’s hard for someone to politely remove them. But provide a nice onion jam and they can add a little bit on for themselves.
Now I keep saying this is for a large group, but some samples on the table seem pretty skimpy you might be saying, the cheese probably stands out. Well this is a spring event and it was relatively warm in the room, especially when you cram people into the space. While cheese is typically at it’s best at room temperature, sweaty or melty cheese on a platter not so great. So keep the portioning small and change them out frequently, it helps presentation and also with food safety concerns.
So what recipe do I have for today, a red onion jam. It goes great with ham sandwiches, creamy brie cheese and has a rich deep purple colour that looks amazing.
Red Onion Jam
~60ml olive oil
~400g sliced red onions
~6 sprigs of fresh thyme
~3 Tablespoons of brown sugar
~100g finely chopped prunes (also works using dried figs and in a pinch dates)
~60ml orange juice
~3 Tablespoons of aged balsamic vinegar
~100ml of Shiraz (Port also works, I just like Shiraz)
~Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium low heat and add the sliced onions. Cook gently, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes. Do not allow the onions to colour.
Add the thyme, brown sugar and continue to cook until the onions are tender. Again there shouldn’t be too much colour to the onions.
Add the prunes, orange juice, vinegar and Shiraz. Reduce the heat to just a very light simmer and let cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Keep stirring occasionally to prevent any burning.
Season with the salt and pepper to your tastes and adjust the flavour to your liking with orange juice or balsamic.
This will keep for a couple of days in a sealed container in the fridge.
I’ve got one more post coming for this series with a little more photo inspiration and another recipe.