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

 

Marinade

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

 

Dressing

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!

 

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!