How to host a long luncheon

Summer is just around the corner. Seeing the clear blue skies and spring flowers in full bloom at the moment, causes my mind to drift to long leisurely lunches.


If you are thinking of ways to liven up your weekend afternoons, consider hosting a long luncheon in your backyard or on your balcony. It’s perfect match for this time of year.


Why a long lunch?

Lunch parties tend to be a more casual affair than evening entertaining, meaning you can keep costs and preparation time down. Also evenings over the festive season tend to fill up quickly, so you are more likely to find a clear afternoon amongst your friends.


The idea with a long lunch is to sit, relax and enjoy each other’s company for a few hours. Let your guests know this. Invite them to arrive a little later in the day, say around 1pm so that the lunch can spill out into the afternoon.


What do I serve?

Consider a theme with the food. Italian, Greek & Mediterranean come to mind, as they live and breathe long lazy lunches! Or you could opt for a Texan BBQ or Mexican fiesta theme.


Serve a few courses and enjoy them slowly. You will want to spend as much time as possible sitting at the table with your guests so think about food that can be prepared in advance or things that will require just a few minutes to finish off before you serve. Antipasti platters with grilled vegetables, sliced meats and cheeses, or poached fish & grilled meats served at room temperature with wholesome salads. Lay an assortment of platters along the middle of the table for guests to help themselves.


Another option could be a buffet style luncheon. Start off with a few nibbles (dips & flat breads, olives etc). Then set up a taco bar or a pita pocket & wrap station. Prepare an assortment of fillings and have your guests choose their favourites and make their own.


For desserts choose petit fours, platters of fresh fruit or something light like a berry filled meringue layer cake.


Keep beverages light. Champagne, beer, white wines and rose. A punch, Sangria or Pimms would spice things up a bit. Have plenty of water and non-alcoholic options available.


What else do I need to know?

Don’t make the table too formal. The idea is that people should relax and linger, so allow for mixed plates and cutlery, rumpled napkins and informal flowers.


Also don’t forget your guest’s comfort. In the hotter summer months provide shade, sun screen and if Mozzies are an issue, light coils and have repellant handy.


Let me know if you are planning any long luncheons this Summer or have hosted a fabulous one in the past. If you would like more entertaining tips you can find them in my book, The High-Heeled Hostess.


Halloween Party To-Do List – 7 things to consider when hosting the perfect day of horror.

The spookiest night of the year is fast approaching. If your planning to celebrate this year you will want to have everything ready well in advance so that your not stressing out over any last minute details. After all, wouldn’t you rather be spending time adding the final touches to your freaky costume instead? Below are 7 things to consider when hosting the perfect day of horror.

Guest List & Invitations – Ensure that you include an RSVP date on your invitations. That will ensure you know how many people are coming and then you can plan accordingly. Costumes and Halloween come hand in hand, but remember to enforce that dress-up is compulsory. It can be embarrassing for both the guest and the host if someone turns up without costume.


Themed Food – Play around with your food on Halloween. Guests will love to see little pumpkin pies (pictured above) and spider web pizzas. If you don’t want to get that creative consider replacing dipping bowls with little black cauldrons, or serving sweet potato fries & ‘blood’ sauce inside black paper cones.

img_2465 img_2461img_2458


Themed Beverages – Keep it simple by making a cauldron of ‘spiked’ punch and adding lychees stuffed with blueberries (eyeballs). You can add some dry ice for a fog effect that spills over the bowl. Design some ‘blood red’ cocktails using your liquor of choice, frozen raspberries & red food colouring.


Decorations – The spookier the better. Bats and spiders, ghosts and ghoulish faces. Keep the lights low or scatter burning candles, jack-o’-lantern’s or candle filled jars wrapped in orange crepe paper with creepy black faces drawn on them around the party areas. Consider a beautiful pumpkin setting like the one featured below or these ghosts made of a polystyrene balls draped with shredded muslin. Have plastic bats lining the walls and add baby spiders to your floral arrangements. Set the decorations the night before so that your not rushing around on the day setting up.





Music – Be sure to add some themed tracks to your Halloween playlist like Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ or the Ghost Busters theme song. A quick google search and you will even find whole playlists with dark scary music ready for you to play.


Costume Accessories – Have some extra accessories just in case someone does come without costume. It will also give your guests the opportunity to change their ‘look’ throughout the evening. Things like masks, fangs, wigs, capes and fake blood are great options.


Camera – A must have at all costume parties. Make sure that you charge your camera the night before and clear all of the memory. Consider delegating a friend to take pictures so that you can be free to tend to your guests.


Whether you are going all out this year or just inviting a few friends over, considering these 7 things and adding a little touch of each will make all the difference to your nightmarish soiree. Happy Halloween!


A crowd-pleasing menu + recipes for the AFL grand final.

Whether you’re rooting for the Swan’s or the Bulldog’s this Saturday, you are going to need some serious fuel for the game. Just beer doesn’t cut it.


As one of Australian’s largest sporting events, the AFL grand final is well known as being one of the most difficult events to obtain tickets for. So chances are, to see the game, you will be joining in excess of 2.5 million other viewers and watching it on a screen.  If your not heading down to your local, and are choosing the comforts of your own home to enjoy the game, I have the perfect menu for you.


Finger-licking pork ribs, sweet potato wedges, a crunchy slaw & grilled corn with a smoky lime butter. Sounds good huh?


Well, the ribs will take a bit of preparation (sooooo worth it!), but you can make the marinade and cover them with the spice rub the day before and then just pop them in the oven before the game. There will be nothing quite like smelling the cooking ribs while watching the game. In the final stages of cooking you can turn the oven up, and add your sweet potato wedges. The slaw ingredients can be prepared in advance, (just dress just before serving), as can the smokey butter. And you can char the corn while you are plating up the other components. Oh yeah, not only is it super tasty, it’s fairly healthy too.


Sticky BBQ Pork Ribs


1.5kg American style pork ribs


Spice Rub

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup smoked paprika

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon chilli powder

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper



2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup minced onion

3 cloves garlic, diced

240 ml tomato Sauce

180 ml tomato Paste

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon mustard powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

pinch of black pepper


To prepare the ribs: Mix all of the ingredients for the spice rub together. Using your hands massage the rub all over the ribs. Let marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

To prepare the marinade: Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until translucent. Add remaining ingredients and simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes, until nice and thick.

Preheat oven to 150C (130C fan-forced). Transfer the ribs into two baking dishes, spreading in a single layer. Baste with the marinade all over then roast, tightly covered and basting occasionally, until tender (3 hours). If the marinade looks as if it is sticking and starting to caramelise on the bottom of the baking dishes, add some water and remember to cover tightly again after basting.

Once tender (the meat will come away from the bone easily) turn the oven up 200C (180C fan-forced) and cook uncovered until until glazed, charred and sticky (15-20 minutes). Slice ribs and serve hot.


Sweet Potato Wedges


900g sweet potato, washed

3 tablespoons coconut oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika


Position the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 200C (180C fan-forced). Place a heavy large baking tray in the hot oven for 10 minutes to preheat.

Meanwhile, melt the coconut oil (if solid) in a small saucepan, and the seasonings and pour into a large bowl. Cut the sweet potato lengthways into wedges (you may need to cut longer potatoes in half first), about 2-2.5cm thick, tossing in the oil mixture as you go.

Arrange the sweet potato wedges, cut-side down, in a single layer on the hot tray.

Roast for about 20 minutes, or until the sweet potato wedges are golden brown on the bottom. Using a metal spatula, turn the sweet potato wedges over. Continue roasting for about 5 minutes, or until the sweet potato wedges are golden brown on the bottom and soft in the centre.


Crunchy Capsicum Slaw


1/8 white cabbage, thinly sliced

1/16 red cabbage, thinly sliced

1/2 medium sized carrot, grated

1/2 red capsicum, thinly sliced

1/2 yellow capsicum, thinly sliced

1/8 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1/4 cup firmly packed fresh coriander, chopped



2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 ½ tablespoons sugar

Juice of 1 fresh lime

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and black pepper


In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Season to taste.

Add the slaw ingredients to the bowl and toss them to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and allow it to chill for 1 hour before serving, tossing occasionally. Stir in the coriander and toasted almonds just before serving.



Grilled Corn with Smoky Lime Butter


4 ears fresh sweet corn


Smoky lime butter

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 lime

2 tablespoons fresh coriander, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


In a small bowl combine the butter, zest from half the lime, juice from the whole lime. Stir in the coriander, salt, smoked paprika and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Heat your BBQ or stove top grill plate to medium-high. Grill the corn on all sides until lightly charred and tender(8-10 minutes).

Place onto a platter and dollop with the butter mixture.


I hope that you enjoy these recipes and that the game keeps us all on the edge of our seats!


How to spring clean – chemically free



I am a big believer in doing as much as we can to look after our beautiful planet. I know we can’t be perfect all of the time, but we can all try to do our best. We can all recycle. We can all make as much of our food from scratch as possible to avoid processed foods and  save on the amount of packing that needs to be disposed of.


We can also make our own cleaning products for around the house. Chemical laden commercial products have a huge impact on the environment. They pollute our planet in various different ways. They are sprayed into the air, flushed down toilets and washed down sinks, thrown into the trash and dumped into the ground. All the while releasing their toxins, contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer, polluting our water, contaminating our soil and harming animals, fish and plants (and us!).


We all know the saying “we are what we eat”  but we need to consider that we are also what we digest and absorb.


Personally, I can’t stand the smell of commercial cleaning products and I’m certainly not happy about the fact that they can be absorbed into my body through inhalation or absorbed via my skin. If I there is an ingredient that I don’t recognise, or a strange word that I can’t even pronounce, I don’t want it near me, my house or my planet.


There are plenty of natural cleaning products on the market today and many homes are using them but you can just as easily make your own with everyday household products that you probably already have at hand.


Here are some recipes for various cleaners you can use around your home. (Remember to purchase only 100% pure essential oils, and to keep all cleaning products stored safely from children and pets).


All-Purpose Spray Cleaner (not for stone or granite surfaces)


1/4 cup white vinegar

2 cups water

10 drops Eucalyptus Oil

10 drops Tea Tree Oil

10 drops Orange Essential oil


Add all ingredients to a spray bottle. Shake thoroughly before spraying.


Stone & Granite Cleaner


3 tablespoons rubbing alcohol

2 cups water

1/4 teaspoon Castile soap

10 drops eucalyptus oil


Add all ingredients to a spray bottle. Shake thoroughly before spraying.


Peppermint Glass & Mirror Cleaner


2 cups water

2 tablespoons white vinegar

2 tablespoons rubbing alcohol

5 drops Peppermint essential oil


Add all ingredients to a spray bottle. Shake before using. Spray and wipe with a soft cloth.


Disinfecting Toilet & Bowl Cleaner 


1/2 cup baking soda

1/4 cup vinegar

5 drops Tea Tree oil

5 drops Lavender essential oil


Add the oils to the vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray the inside of the toilet bowl with the vinegar mixture, and then sprinkle on the baking soda. It should be fizzy; if not, spray with a bit more vinegar.  Let sit for 10 mins or so, scrub with your toilet brush and flush.


Lemon Microwave Cleaner


1 fresh lemon, juiced

2 cups water


Put the water and squeezed lemon with juice into a bowl and place inside the microwave. Run the microwave until the water boils (3-5mins). Let rest for a few minutes, remove the bowl and wipe clean.


Mould Remover


1/8 tsp Clove essential oil

1 litre of water


Add all ingredients to a spray bottle. Shake before using. Spray on anywhere you have mold issues; e.g mold in shower, grouting, sink, walls, outdoor shade sails and furniture, umbrellas and even clothes, canvas shoes etc.  Wearing gloves is recommended when cleaning with clove essential oil.


Tile, Grout & Sink Cleaner


1/8 cup Castile soap

1/8 cup water

½ cup baking soda

10 drops Eucalyptus essential oil


Mix all the ingredients together. You can add more water depending on how thin or thick you want the mixture to be. Paint on with foam craft brush (or your hand if you want to). Let sit for 15 – 20 min. Get it wet with a spray bottle, scrub with a scouring pad, and wipe clean with a wet cloth.




5 Common Fears about entertaining at home

For some, the simple thought of entertaining guests in their home, brings them out in a hot sweat. Whether your worried about making everything perfect, having the house spotless or are concerned that people won’t enjoy themselves, most of these fears around entertaining are misplaced.

Part of the trouble is that you are focusing your energy in the wrong place. The reason for entertaining is to spend quality time with loved ones. You are offering your home, as a place to enjoy food, beverages and conversations.  The style, shape or form of those offerings doesn’t really matter as long as everyone feels comfortable and is well looked after.

It’s not about having the latest dinnerware or being able to cook the most amazing meal, its about connection. The sooner you can put your perfectionism aside and forget your fears and inhibitions, the sooner you can relax and enjoy the art of entertaining!


Here is a list of 5 common fears and how to overcome them:


1. Finding the time. Most of us tend to live fairly busy lifestyle’s and if you wonder how you will find the time to organise everything, rest assured you can. You just need to plan ahead. Prepare as much as you can in advance to avoid doing everything last minute. Decorations, snacks and beverages can all be bought in advance. You can set your table one or two days before your dinner party or arrange your furniture, set up the bar area and hang props a few days before your big shindig. You can even prepare menu items in advance with thoughtful planning.

2. Expecting your party to be perfect. Stressing yourself out too much over specifics and trying to make everything perfect will mean that you won’t enjoy yourself as much as you could. You don’t want to spending all night fussing, you want to be having a great time with your guests. Thinking your house isn’t good enough or you can’t cook a michelin starred meal is just holding you back from sharing some special moments with people that are important to you. Go easy on yourself. Allowing yourself to relax will help your guests to relax too.

3. Lacking confidence. You may feel a bit shy or inexperienced to entertain guests. You may like the idea of entertaining but not know where to start. So start out small and simple. Invite a small group of close friends over and ask them to bring their favourite dish. This will take the pressure off having to cook everything and will also be a conversation starter as each guest can proudly talk about their dish. Ask a more experienced friend to help you host if it will make you feel more at ease.

4. Worrying that your guests won’t have a good time.  You simply need to look after your guests to make them feel comfortable. Feed them well, have plenty to drink and engage with them and they will be sure to have a good time. Remember you are inviting your friends and loved ones and the common bond they have is YOU. Once you have introduced them to each other, they will generally happily chat amongst themselves. Consider inviting a friend that enjoys being the life of the party, they will be sure to help keep your guests entertained.

5. Getting overwhelmed by stress. This all-consuming fear is probably the most common. Will people come? Will I forget anything? Will I enjoy myself? The best way to combat this is with preparation. Rely on checklists to stay organised. Ticking off the list as you go will remind yourself that you have everything under control. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Give friends or family tasks to complete to lower your tasks and help eliminate stress.


As you can see, whether it be inexperience or perfectionism that holds you back from entertaining at home, there is a solution to help you along the way. You can be assured through careful planning, asking for help and truly considering your guests’ comfort, that you are more than capable of hosting a special occasion in your home that both you and your guests can enjoy.

If you have a celebration on the horizon and would like more party planning advice, you can purchase a copy of Julie’s book – The High-Heeled Hostess – Mastering the art of entertaining at home. It features a step-by-step guide that helps you plan, execute and most importantly, offers the reader the assurance that they will have a good time too!

Looking forward to Spring + recipes!

Zucchini Tart - Blog PostSpring has finally arrived and with it some of my favourite fruits and vegetables. You tend to see lots of the greens come into season. Asparagus, Peas, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Kale, Silverbeet, Spinach and Zucchini start to flood the market along with Mangoes, Blood Oranges and Strawberries. It’s great time to cleanse before summer, whether it be bring spring cleaning your house, your office or your body.

This week I have some lovely spring recipes for you try…

Featured above is a beautiful Zucchini & Herbed Ricotta Tart. Served along side a crisp Rocket & Cherry Tomato Salad, this is a lovely spring lunch or light dinner.

Leek Pasta - Blog Pic

I also have a Leek & Brussel Sprout Pasta dish for you to try. Super simple & delicious.

Lamb with Pea Risotto - Blog Post

Spring is also a great time to buy lamb, so for something slightly more fancy, try my Lamb Cutlets with Pea Risotto.

I hope you enjoy!

Father’s Day Ideas


The time of year has come again to celebrate the special men in our lives. Whether it be your dad or the father of your children, Fathers Day is the special day that we can show how much we appreciate them and how we love them being in our lives.

Dad’s (in whatever form they may come) are important to us. They are a pillar of strength and a wealth of wisdom. They make us laugh, console us with a big bear hug when we are sad and nourish us with a perfectly cooked steak from the BBQ when we are hungry!

So how about honoring your father this year by showing your love through food and organising a picnic, an intimate family dinner or consider throwing a party!

Pick a destination like the Royal Botanical GardensManly Dam Reserve or any one of Sydney’s beautiful parks & beaches and order some gourmet platters or prepared BBQ items, ready to throw straight on the grill. Make sure you pack some entertainment like a frisby, a football or card games for everyone to enjoy.

Feel like staying indoors? Organise a poker night with your family. Pre-order your dad’s favourite dishes from our dinner party menu and have a chef & waiter take away all the stress for you and allow you to spend quality time with dad. We will take care of everything for you, from setting the table to washing & drying the dishes.

If you’re in the mood to celebrate on a larger scale what better way to do it than throw a party for Fathers day? Gather the family or a group of awesome dads and throw a shindig in their honour. You could make it dad-themed, with games like mini golf or darts or hire some table tennis tables and run a tournament. At Figmint we have a range of fantastic buffet style catering options or if you prefer quick easy bites, consider a cocktail style event featuring a DIY burger bar or taco station.

Whatever you decide to do this Sunday, we hope that your day is as memorable and amazing as Dad is!

10 Things To Do With Leftover Roasted Vegetables

Winter leads itself to warm roasts. But if you are like me and always cook too much (must the the caterer in me!) what can you do with the leftover veggies? There’s definitely no need to throw them away. Leftover vegetables can save you time in preparing for your meals the next day. Let me show you how, I’ve got 10 great tips on how to use them:-

Roasted Vegetable Frittata

Saute some onions, leeks & fresh thyme. Mix in your leftover veg. Beat eggs, a dash of cream, salt & pepper. Mix all together, pour in into a non stick saucepan and bake in the oven. Voila!

Vegetarian Lasagne

Turn your veggies into a family favourite sans meat.

Vegetable Tart

Who doesn’t love pastry? Use your veggies to jazz up a tart, serve with some slow roasted  cherry tomatoes, rocket and pesto on the side. Lunch is served.

Pureed Vegetable Soup

Heat your leftover veggies in a saucepan, add some vegetable or chicken stock and some fresh herbs, then puree into a creamy full-of-goodness soup.

Vegetarian Enchiladas

Chop your veggies into small cubes, mix in some kidney or pinto beans. Wrap them up with a tortilla, smother with sour cream & grated cheddar. Bake in a hot oven then serve with guacamole and fresh tomato salsa. (and maybe a Margarita!)

Roasted Vegetable and Hummus Wraps

Smear a wrap in homemade or store-bought hummus, add baby spinach, your leftover veggies and crumbled feta and you have a 5 minute meal. Done.

Roasted Vegetable Curry

I have a homemade curry paste kept in a jar in my fridge so that I can make a curry in a hurry! Saute off the paste, add coconut milk, my veggies, a squeeze of fresh lime. Steam some rice and top off with fresh coriander.

Vegetable & Feta Pizza

Purchase a pizza base from the supermarket (pita bread will do too!). Top with passata or tomato paste, sprinkle with oregano. Then add your veggies, feta cheese, grated mozzarella and fresh basil. Buon Appetito!

Breakfast Omelette

For a great start to the day, use your veggies in an omelette. Serve with slow roasted tomatoes and mushrooms.

So maybe next time you cook a roast or even just when you have the oven on cooking something else, you can consider adding a few extra veggies….


Grazing Table Menus

Grazing Table 2

Designed to be a ‘feast for your guests eyes’. A table is laid with platters of Meats, Fish, Cheeses, Antipasti, Dips, Breads & Crackers. Ideal for venues with limited kitchen faciliiies. The table is self service. It’s a lighter alternative to a buffet or can be substituted for a canape service

Figmint Grazing Table Menus

Option 1

Vegetarian Antipasti Platter V, GF

Sliced Beef, Shaved Parmesan & Pesto GF

Fennel Baked Trout, Smashed Peas & Shaved Fennel GF

Pumpkin, Leek & Feta Frittata V, GF

Hummus & Baba Ghanoush V, GF

Lemon & Rosemary Marinated Olives V, GF

Australian Cheeses, Glazed Figs & Dried Fruits V, GF

Homemade Lavosh & Spiced Pita Wedges

Disposable Plates, Cutlery & Napkins

Option 2

Vegetarian Antipasti Platter

Smoked Salmon, Sliced Lemon, Capers & Dill GF

Proscuitto, Salami, Artichokes & Stuffed Vine Leaves

Fennel Baked Trout, Smashed Peas & Shaved Fennel GF

Chermoula Spiced Chicken with Minted Yoghurt

Sliced Beef, Shaved Parmesan & Pesto GF

Pumpkin, Leek & Feta Frittata V, GF

Hummus & Baba Ghanoush

Lemon & Rosemary Marinated Olives

Australian Cheeses, Glazed Figs & Dried Fruits

Homemade Lavosh, Spiced Pita Wedges

Disposable Plates, Cutlery & Napkins

Option 3

Vegetarian Antipasti Platter

Smoked Salmon, Sliced Lemon, Capers & Dill GF

Fennel Baked Trout, Smashed Peas & Shaved Fennel GF

Chermoula Spiced Chicken with Minted Yoghurt

Sliced Beef, Shaved Parmesan & Pesto GF

Glazed Leg of Ham, Mustards

Pumpkin, Leek & Feta Frittata V, GF

Hummus & Baba Ghanoush

Baked Ricotta

Lemon & Rosemary Marinated Olives

Australian Cheeses, Glazed Figs & Dried Fruits

Mini Rolls, Homemade Lavosh, Spiced Pita Wedges

Disposable Plates, Cutlery & Napkins

To enquire about Figmint’s Grazing Tables click here.

Confetti Fair 2016

Confetti Fair was so much fun! Filled with all things party, the Inglis Stables was an explosion of colour, creativity & craziness!

There were cake decorators, photo booths, stylists, face painters, florists, even mobile ceramic painting…

Figmint showcased our ever popular grazing tables. Vibrant, healthy and a feast for both the eyes and the stomach.

We got the chance to introduce more people to The High-Heeled Hostess – Mastering the art of entertaining at home and it was really well received. I had a lady purchase a copy and have her photo taken with me which made me truly feel like an author!

I also did my first ever demo. I made two canapés from the book and discussed some of our party planning secrets.

Thanks to Claire and the rest of the stall holders for such a successful day!

Baked Ricotta Peppered Beef Spiced Cauliflower Grazing Table Baked Trout with Fennel & Smashed Peas Char-grilled Zucchini & Mint Confetti Fair 2016-3192 Confetti Fair 2016-3193 Confetti Fair 2016-3188


Credits: Flowers by Petal & Fern, Photos by Live Photography

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