Entertainer’s Guide to Hosting a Dinner Party

It is possible to throw a dinner party with maximum enjoyment for your guests and minimal stress for you. Organisation and making use of modern technology are your keys to success. Here are our suggestions on how to host a great dinner party.

Plan Your Menu

From appetisers to dessert, plan out exactly what you will be serving your guests, including beverages. When they RSVP have your guests advise you of any allergies or special dietary needs and ensure that you have factored these into your menu planning. Know what you will be cooking well in advance of your party and ensure that you have all of the ingredients you will need. It’s probably best not to be experimenting with new recipes on the night of your party. If you would like to make something you haven’t made before, cook a trial batch beforehand. Fresh is best, so try and cook as much as possible on the day of the party – keep your menu simple to allow for this. If you will be preparing some elements in advance, ensure these are properly stored. Don’t forget to always store and serve your food at safe temperatures. After all, you want your dinner party to be memorable, but not for food poisoning!

Atmosphere

Having a theme is a great way to set the tone for your evening. Setting your theme around a particular culinary style can be complimented by your table settings and the use of other decorative elements around your home. Ensure your table settings don’t obscure your guests view, as this may hinder conversation. Music and lighting will create the ambiance for your dinner party. Program a playlist that will help set the mood you are trying to achieve. Check the volume is set so that you can hear the music without having to talk over it. Avoid bright lights by using the dimmer setting, lamps or candles to give your dining room an intimate feel.

Don’t Forget the Essentials

It is attention to detail and remembering the little things that makes all the difference. Here are a few simple things to ensure you don’t overlook:

  • Stock up on napkins (cocktail and dinner size), toothpicks, garbage bags, tea and coffee, paper towels, ice, mixers and garnishes for drinks
  • Ensure you salt and pepper shakers are full
  • Set your table with matching polished glassware and the necessary silverware for each course you will be serving. Reset the cutlery for dessert with coffee/tea cups.
  • Make sure you have wine and bottle openers
  • Make sufficient space for chilling beverages – filling a bathtub full or ice of using an esky will suffice
  • Ensure your house is tidy
  • Ensure your toilet is clean has enough toilet paper, air freshener, hand-wash and hand-towels for your guests
  • Have a place for your guests to put their bags, coats and umbrellas

Relax!

It’s all about having fun, so don’t try to plan every second of your night down to the last detail. An ice-breaker game such as Pictionary or charades along with nice bottle of wine is a great way for everyone to get to know one another and gets the conversation flowing.

Smeg Delivers Technology with Style

Now one of the largest appliance manufacturers in Europe, Smeg got its start in a humble workshop in Guastalla, Reggio Emilia, Italy in 1948. Founder Vittorio Bertazzoni chose the name Smeg because it is an acronym for the phrase Smalterie Metallurgiche Emiliane Guastall, which refers to the company’s first function: serving as a metal enamelling factory.

When Bertazzoni decided to begin manufacturing appliances in his workshop, he wanted his products to stand out from others that were already on the market. To ensure his success and help him to reach this goal, he hired two successful Italian architects, Guido Canali and Renzo Piano, to design his new product lineup. At this time, appliances were designed only with their utility in mind, and so, when Smeg’s stylish models emerged on the market, they created an international stir.

From that time onward, Smeg has continued to place a heavy emphasis on the appearance of the brand’s products. Using the motto “technology with style,” Smeg promotes the idea that a homeowner does not have to sacrifice the appearance of their kitchen to have a truly functional space. To this end, all of Smeg’s products are visually appealing but also built with smart features that make them useful in modern homes.

While Smeg has grown to become a highly recognisable, influential brand and to have locations across the globe, the corporation remains private and family-owned. Currently, it is run by CEO and Chairman Roberto Bertazzoni. Now a multinational company, Smeg has a headquarters in Banksmeadow, New South Wales, and has registered service agents for its products located throughout Australia.

As an added service to customers, Smeg offers cooking classes to the public in Melbourne, Sydney and Dudley Park, South Australia. Those who can’t fit a cooking class into their busy schedules can also find a variety of fun recipes to try on the brand’s official website.

One area of appliances in which Smeg excels is ovens and cookers. The majority of Smeg’s ovens feature a special covering over their interior cavities known as Thermoseal. This seal prevents air from the kitchen from entering the oven, which keeps the food being baked inside more moist and juicy. The Thermoseal is one of the major features of the Smeg SAC399X-8 60cm Classic Vapour Clean Single Oven, a popular model in the brand’s oven range.

In keeping with the brand’s emphasis on the beauty of appliances, the unit features sleek lines, modern embellishments and a handsome triple-glazed door. Smeg’s cooking appliance collection also includes cooktops, range hoods and microwave ovens like the Smeg SA985-2CX Convection Microwave Oven that also doubles as a convection cooker. To complete the kitchen, Smeg produces dishwashers in freestanding, semi-integrated and fully-integrated styles.

Smeg is very well known for its fine quality, wall-installed coffee makers that brew up coffee, espresso and cappuccino that can rival the cafes in Italy. The brand also makes a full line of refrigerators, including a colourful collection that is based on the look of iceboxes and fridges from the 1950s and 1960s.

3 Warming Winter Recipes for Your Slow Cooker

Tender, rich comfort food are a staple for the cooler months, but with the hectic pace of modern society, who has time to be slaving away over a stove for hours? That’s why slow cookers are a must have for any kitchen. Just pop your ingredients in before going to sleep, or before leaving for work in the morning and return 8 hours later to a hearty, homely meal. Here are some great winter recipes to try in your slow cooker this winter.

Chunky Lamb Stew

Ingredients

1.4 kg lamb shoulder, de-boned, and cut into 4 cm cubes 450g pound potatoes, diced into large chunks 4 large carrots, diced into large pieces 1 medium-sized brown onion halved and thinly sliced 1 cup celery, sliced diagonally 1 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 1 Bouquet garni 1 can tomato pieces ½ cup water 450 g green beans, sliced 225 g fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced 1 cup sour cream 1 tablespoon plain flour

Method

Add lamb, potatoes, carrots, onion, celery, salt, pepper, bouquet garni, tomato and water into a large slow cooker, then mix.

Cover and cook on Low 8 – 10 hours.

Remove bouquet garni.

Add green beans, mushrooms, and a mixture sour cream and flour to the cooker and stir.

Cover again and cook for a further 30 – 60 minutes on high.

Serving suggestion: Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve with crusty fresh bread

Slow-cooked Chilli con Carne

Ingredients

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil 2 medium-sized brown onions, diced 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely 1.2kg of lean beef mince 1 tbs ground cumin 2 tsp paprika 1 tsp cayenne pepper 1 can of chopped tomatoes 1 can of rid kidney beans, drained and rinsed ½ cup of beef stock 2 bay leaves Salt and Pepper to season

Method

Heat oil in a large fry pan and add onions and garlic, cooking until soft.

Add mince to the fry pan and cook until brown and loose.

Stir spices through and cook until fragrant.

Transfer mixture to the slow cooker, adding the tomatoes, beans and bay leaves. Cook on High for 3-4 hours or on Low for 6-8 hours.

Remove bay leaves and season to taste.

Serving suggestion: serve with tortillas or tacos, adding your favourite filings such as guacamole, salsa, sour cream and cheese.

Osso Bucco

Ingredients

30g plain flour Salt and pepper 6 thick slices veal shanks 30g butter 2 tbs olive oil 2 brown onions, roughly chopped 2 big carrots, peeled and chopped 2 celery stalks, chopped 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced 300ml chicken stock 1x400g can diced tomatoes 2 tsp fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried oregano 1 bay leaf

Method

Season flour and coat the meat thoroughly. Heat the olive oil and butter in a frypan and seal the meat over a medium heat until it begins to brown.

Place the vegetables in the bottom of the slow cooker then place the browned meat on top.

Pour the tinned tomatoes and stock over the meat.

Add the bay leaf and fresh oregano. If using dried oregano wait until 1 hour before the end of cooking time.

Cook for 8 hours on Low setting or for 4 hours on High then 2 hours on low.

How to Save Time Doing the Laundry

If only there were an all in one washing-drying-pressing-and-folding device that could save us all from the time-consuming task of doing the laundry! Until such a genius invention becomes available, the best we can do is to try and make laundry day as quick and easy as possible. Here are a few clever ideas you can implement in your home.

Establish House Rules

Shed minutes off your laundry time each week by having a set of simple rules to govern your household’s washing, including getting everyone to: • Check their own pockets before placing their items in the washing hamper • Make sure their clothes aren’t inside out • Ensure that both socks in the pair go into the same load

Sort Your Washing

Pre-sorting your dirty items will save you time from sorting through a big pile of soiled laundry yourself. Come up with a system that will best suit your household’s needs and get each member to sort their soiled items into the appropriate hampers. You can buy two or three separate baskets or one large one with dividers. Label each hamper accordingly with “Whites and Lights”, “Dark Colours” and “Towels and Linen” or whatever categories you have decided upon.

Shop Smart

Hand-washing and drip-drying is even more time consuming than doing regular washing so why not save yourself the hassle? Instead of cashmere and silk, invest your fashion budget on wrinkle-free fabrics and wash-and-wear items, saving you time on ironing and money on dry cleaning bills.

To avoid wasting time on trying finding matching pairs of socks, buy in bulk. Buy multiple pairs of identical sports socks and dress socks, and replace them all at once every 6 to 12 months.

Have a Laundry Day

Economise your time as well as your power and water bills by doing all of your laundry in one go. Designate a weekly laundry day and do all of your washing, drying, folding and ironing on that day. Not only will this strategy free up your time for the rest of the week, it is also more cost-effective in terms of water and power consumption to wash and dry full loads.

Get Help

Make laundry day a family affair and lighten the workload for yourself in the process. Give each family member a task to complete and make the job fun by making a game out of getting the job done. Doing the laundry is a great way to get children involved in contributing to the essential duties around the home and teaches them important skills which will help them to independent in the future.

If all else fails and you still find yourself swamped by laundry, you can always look into outsourcing all or part of the task to a laundry or ironing service!

How to Clean Your Oven Quickly and Safely

Built-up grease and baked-on on gunk can not only reduce the life of your oven, it poses a fire risk. The longer your oven is left without a thorough clean, the more difficult it will be to remove the unhygienic mess inside. Here are a few tips on how to make the laborious task of cleaning your oven a lot quicker and safer.

Get a self-cleaning oven

Having a self-cleaning oven does not mean you avoid the task of cleaning altogether. Rather, the self-cleaning feature makes the job easier for you by reducing spills to a powdery ash that can be easily wiped away with a damp, soapy cloth upon completion of the cleaning cycle. • Before commencing the self-clean cycle, open your kitchen window to prevent the smoke emitted by the oven during the process from sticking to your ceiling and walls. • Remove residue from the oven door and frame by gently washing it with a gentle cleaner, but avoid scrubbing the door seal as this may damage it. • Never use commercial oven cleaners or abrasives like steel wool on the interior or your self-cleaning oven.

Using commercial oven-cleaner

Using a commercial spray-on cleaner is the quickest way to clean a conventional oven. Begin by reading the manufacturer’s instructions and ensuring that the area is well-ventilated. Since most commercial sprays are caustic, it is vital that you always wear gloves when using these types of cleaning products.

Spray the cleaner so that it covers the interior surfaces of your oven, being careful to avoid directly spraying the light and heating element. Leave the cleaner on for as long as possible (overnight is ideal) before wiping all surfaces with a damp cloth or sponge. You may find it necessary to use a scourer to scrub areas with stubborn build-up. If you are still unable to remove any areas of baked-on carbon, repeat the spray-and-wait process before attempting to scrub again.

Homemade oven cleaning solutions

There are several ways that you can keep your oven spotless without using harsh chemical cleaners. • Wipe up spills with a hot, soapy cloth after each use, waiting until the oven cools. By doing so, you will avoid any build-up on your interior surfaces. • Protect against spillage by covering the bottom of your oven cavity with aluminum foil, ensuring that you don’t cover any vents or elements. • Alternatively, safely make your oven shine with one of these homemade cleaners:

o Combine even quantities of salt, baking soda and water until they form a paste and apply to the oven interior. Heat the appliance to 260?C for an hour before switching off. Once the unit is cool, wipe with a damp cloth, ensuring to rinse thoroughly. o Mix equal parts of lemon juice and salt. Apply to unit and leave for 15 minutes before scrubbing with a scourer to remove grease. o Form a paste made from 5 tablespoons baking soda, 4 tablespoons white vinegar and 3 drops of liquid detergent. Use to scrub the oven interior and rinse with a wet sponge or cloth.

Quick Tips to Save Time in the Kitchen

After a long day, coming home to cook a tasty, nutritious meal can be difficult even at the best of times. But there are a few simple things you can do to make it go faster and easier.

Get Organised

Do you get frustrated scouring your kitchen cupboards and drawers for items like the peeler, grater or colander? One of the easiest things that you can do to save time in the kitchen is to ensure that everything has its place and is easily accessible when you need it. Organise your kitchen storage space so that your most frequently used tools are in a section close to your stove or preparation bench. You can make room for these items by moving items you use less often – like baking items – to your peripheral storage areas.

Buy Packaged Items

Packaged and frozen items have come a long way since the TV dinners of the 20th century. Frozen vegetables save you preparation time and are often as high in nutrients as fresh produce. Just add water to rice and pasta pre-mixed packets for a quick and easy side dish. Or try adding your own fresh ingredients to one of the many to the sauce and soup bases available for a tasty meal in a fraction of the time.

Try Slow Cooking

Crock-pots or slow-cookers are an excellent investment. Just place your ingredients in the cooker before you leave home in the morning and turn the unit on. Over the course of the day, the appliance will slowly cook your meal to tender, juicy perfection. For less than ten minutes effort, you can return home at the end of the day to a beautiful dinner.

Cook Bulk Meals

Save money and time by cooking large batches of your favourite meals and freezing them for later use. Stews and casseroles are among the many meals that are great to cook in bulk. Not only does this idea eliminate wastage, it also means that after a hard day’s work, you can enjoy a delicious homemade meal buy simply taking it out of the freezer and popping it in the microwave.

Menu Planning

Before you do your weekly shop, plan what you will cook for dinner each night and ensure you stock up on the necessary ingredients. By planning your weekly menu, you won’t need to muster what little imagination and creativity you have left in the tank at the end of the day. Just go into the kitchen and put your meal together, knowing you’ll have everything you need ready to go.

Stock Up on Basics

If you aren’t one to plan out your meals for the entire week, ensure you’re your fridge and pantry always contain the essential items that can provide the basis for a great meal, such as:

Non-perishable items: flour, sugar, oil, rice, pasta, herbs and spices

Perishable ingredients: milk, butter, potatoes, onion, garlic, carrots, seasonal green.

DeLonghi Delivers Both Looks and Smarts

In 1902, a family in Italy began a small business manufacturing industrial parts. While they were successful enough to support themselves, their endeavour did not reap the profits they had hoped, and gradually, the DeLonghi family started producing other products, moving outside the realm of heavy industry and eventually into producing portable furnaces and air conditioners for homes. By 1950, DeLonghi had grown large enough to incorporate.

Today, DeLonghi remains a leader in portable heating and cooling solutions, now selling their products in more than 50 countries nationwide. The company employs 7,000 people around the world. Most of the design and engineering for DeLonghi still takes place in Italy, and the manufacturing is mainly performed in plants in China that the company received upon buying out Kenwood Limited in 2001.

In Australia, Bing Lee is proud to make DeLonghi’s excellent products available to Australian households. One of our most popular DeLonghi models in the heating and cooling range is the DeLonghi PACW160B Pinguino Portable Air Conditioner. The model features one of DeLonghi’s signature innovations – water to air technology.

This unique system cools the air in any space using a powerful pump that pulls water from its built-in tank to a collection tray before transferring it to the condenser, making the model more efficient. The unit is also outfitted with DeLonghi’s Biosilver Tech System, which uses both an electrostatic and a silver ion filter to eliminate impurities from the air.

Although portable heating and cooling products remain an important line of business for DeLonghi, many people around the globe recognise the brand name for the hig- quality, stylish housewares that it produces. DeLonghi has long held that products used in kitchens should not only be functional, but also attractive enough to contribute to the overall décor. As a result, its small kitchen appliances come in a wide variety of colours and are appealing to look at.

Because of his sophisticated designs, the company’s Design Director Giocomo Borin received special recognition by being named one of the 50 most influential housewares designers in the world by “Home Furnishing News.” In the DeLonghi housewares collection, the coffee maker range is especially well known.

Due to its origins in the nation that gave birth to espresso, DeLonghi has long been a top manufacturer of fine quality coffee makers designed to rival those used in the best coffee houses. DeLonghi coffee makers have won many awards over the years, including Red Dot awards, one of the most prestigious design awards in the world. In addition to its traditional coffee makers and espresso machines, DeLonghi also produces a Nespresso machine, the DeLonghi EN90GYPLUS, which works with Nestle’s delicious flavored creamer line.

To round out its offerings that make kitchens more practical and beautiful, DeLonghi produces large-scale appliances. The brand manufactures freestanding and installed dishwashers, electric upright and installed ovens, range hoods, multifunction ovens and ceramic, gas, electric and induction cooktops. The small appliances range includes deep fryers, toasters, microwave ovens, juicers and electric kettles.

At Bing Lee you can browse the stylish appliance collections that are meant to coordinate with one another, like the Icona Breakfast Collection, which features a fun, retro look and comes in four attractive colours.

Breville: An Australian Kitchen Icon

In 1932, Sydney residents and good friends Bill O’Brien and Harry Norville decided to go into business together, naming their new company with a combination of their surnames. In its early days, Breville produced radios and machines used to detect landmines to support the military’s efforts in World War II. Once the fighting ended, Norville and O’Brien knew they needed to shift the focus of their company to a new line of business. By 1956, the company had found its niche in producing small kitchen appliances. Since then, Breville has grown to become one of the most widely recognized brand names in Australia and has enjoyed similar success around the world, following its launch in the USA and Canada in 2002. Breville products are sold in more than 30 nations around the globe. Although the company has changed ownership since, the O’Brien family led the corporation for three generations, continuing the work of Bill. One of the most well known ranges of Breville products is its juicer line. The company’s innovative research and development team created many landmark designs that are now widely imitated by other brands, including the active arm citrus press mechanism. Breville was also was the creator of the first juicer capable of juicing whole fruits rather than just fruit slices or sections. The Breville Juice Fountain is one of the best-selling juicer collections in the world and accounts for 20 percent of the sales of all juicers worldwide. One of the most popular models in the range is the Breville BJE200 Juice Fountain, proudly stocked at Bing Lee, which features a 75-millimeter tube that can accommodate whole fruits and vegetables. Ultra powerful, the model includes an Italian micromesh filter basket and is easy to clean because it is dishwasher safe. Another line of hugely popular Breville products that we carry at Bing Lee is its sandwich maker range. In 1974, the company introduced the very first sandwich toaster and has continued to be on the cutting edge of design, adding new features to make Breville sandwich makers more and more useful. The sandwich toaster collection has evolved to include many specialty products, including panini presses and handy devices like the Breville BPZ500PE Pete Evans Pizza Maker, a new take on the sandwich maker design that makes it easy to quickly create perfect pizza at home. The Breville iKon panini press is extremely well known worldwide and was even featured as one of “Oprah’s Favorite Things” on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Breville’s achievements in design aren’t just limited to juicers and sandwich makers. The brand is also responsible for creating the first food processor ever made in Australia, which it released in 1977. Breville also introduced one of the first variable speed automatic tea kettles, and its line of glass and stainless steel tea makers remains prominent today. The company is known for its electric woks and created the very first high wall heating wok style. Additional products offered by Breville include blenders, bread makers, coffee grinders and makers, standing mixers, toaster ovens, slow cookers and more. Browse the full range of Breville appliances in our online store today!

Buyer’s Guide to Modern Ovens

Roasting, grilling, baking and heating: since the dawn of time, ovens have enabled humankind to enjoy the spoils of these convenient and delicious cooking methods. Even in the twenty-first century, the oven undoubtedly remains the cornerstone of every home kitchen. Fortunately, between then and now we’ve upgraded from earth and stone ovens to models that are a bit more sophisticated. Buying a new oven is something most of us will only do a few times over the course of our lives. Because it is such a rare event, deciding which oven to get for your home can be challenging. Then there is the abundance of choices on offer – none of which are the same as the last time you got an oven because technology evolves so fast. Never fear! We’ve put together some handy hints to help you along in your oven-buying journey. Read on to learn about the different types of ovens, common oven sizes, and some interesting modern features to look out for.

The Basics: Types of Ovens

Freestanding or upright ovens consist of hotplates on top and an oven underneath. Installation is simple as the oven does not require mounting in a cupboard or wall space. • Built-in ovens are mounted into a wall, on a bench or integrated into the kitchen cupboard. This saves space and can also keep the unit safely out of children’s reach. • Electric or conventional ovens have a thermostat that controls the heat of the oven by measuring the temperature in the middle of the internal cavity, making it hotter at the top and cooler at the bottom. • Fan ovens are versions of conventional ovens that include a fan to create an even temperature throughout the unit, saving energy and reducing cooking time. • Gas ovens use an electric spark to light a flame at the base of the unit. As the air heats, it circulates and rises. As gas emits moisture when cooking, these types of ovens are particularly good for baking cakes. • Multifunction ovens are capable of using different combinations of heating elements to cook the food inside them, offering you greater flexibility and control. Settings can include conventional, fan, grill, bottom heat only, and defrost settings. • Double ovens have different areas capable of operating on different settings simultaneously.

The Logistics: Sizing Options

A range of oven capacities exist to suit your cooking needs and available kitchen space. Ovens are measured according to their size on the outside. Smaller kitchens better suit compact models such as a 45cm ovens, or combination units that serve as both an oven and microwave. Standard kitchens are often matched with a single 60cm oven unit. These units generally have a 56 litre capacity, however larger capacities are now on offer for the 60cm unit size. For even more room, take a look at the many spacious models ranging up to 90cm in size. If you are still unsure, take along your favourite baking tray or dish as a guide while you try a few ovens on for size.

The Extras: Modern Features

Oven doors – The more layers of glass an oven door has, the cooler it will be to touch, which is an important safety consideration if your appliance will be in reach of children. Also check to see if the oven door hinges at the side or bottom, and is lockable. • Controls and settings – Look for functions including pre-programmed cooking options, preheat, grill, bake and defrost. As most ovens are fan-forced, check to see if the appliance also offers cooking options that are fan-free if you are after more variety. • Self-cleaning – Ovens with a self cleaning feature are usually more expensive than conventional models, but can save you some elbow grease. If this feature is beyond your budget, look for a unit that is easy to clean.

Top Features of Modern Dishwashers

Cleaning dishes was a chore that had to be repeated several times a day for most people. When the dishwasher came along, households across the world were able to save hours every week and still enjoy sparkling clean dishes. With today’s technology, modern dishwashers come packed with a range of helpful features to get the job done right. Sensor Automation This eliminates the disappointment of opening up your dishwasher to find your dishes not exactly clean in certain places. Needing only one button for all types of loads, sensors inside the dishwasher detect how much food residue is left on your dishes and automatically adjust how long and intense the wash cycle should be. As an added bonus, getting the wash cycle right every time means you save on your water and power bills. Noise Reduction If you lived in a household with the early generations of dishwashers, you’ll remember that when they’re running, it’s almost as if they want everybody to know about it. Thankfully, modern dishwashers have reduced the level of operating noise significantly. These innovations include quiet motors and stainless steel interiors for insulation. Some models may even come with a delayed start option, letting you get the dishes done when you’re out of the house. Rinse Aid Dispenser A great addition for leaving your dishes with the perfect finish, rinse aid dispensers ensure that food and residue removed during the wash doesn’t end up back on your dishes during the rinse cycle. While some washing detergents and tablets claim they include a rinse aid, separately adding your own ensures the best results. Full Range of Cycles Far from the standard handful of cycles, dishwashers now come equipped with a cycle fit for all kinds of loads and some are even ideal for washing more than just dishes and cutlery. From hardier cycles to get the toughest cheeses and greases off your plate, to crystal and china cycles requiring more finesse, nowadays it seems that if it can be washed, it can be washed in a dishwasher. Also a great addition is the hygienic sanitising cycle to guarantee that dishes don’t just look clean – they actually are clean.

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