The festive season is upon us and that can only mean one thing - lots of festive get-togethers and parties. In fact, you may have plans to do some entertaining of your own.
While the Kiwi barbecue remains as popular as ever, grazing or sharing platters are also proving to be a great option for summer entertaining. Often seen at weddings or large functions, the beauty of the platter is that it can be prepared in advance, there's something for everyone, and they're easy to put together - meaning that once your guests arrive you can pour yourself a glass of bubbles and relax with them.
Here are our top tips on how to create the perfect grazing or sharing platter:
Make sure your platters are generous and abundant, offering a variety of foods. Meats, cheeses, crackers, berries, fruits and veggies, olives, dips, nuts and seeds, pates and breads are all great options for a grazing platter. Pams have an exciting new range of fruit pastes that make a mouth-watering addition to any platter. Try Pams Finest Plum and Green Ginger Paste, Pams Finest Hawkes Bay Quince Paste or Pams Finest Fig, Manuka Honey and Walnut Paste.
Add vibrancy and colour with edible flowers, berries and coloured fruits and veggie sticks. Antipasti are perfect for adding colour and texture. Our favourites are Pams Finest Feta Stuffed Baby Peppers and Pams Finest Kalamata Olives with Oregano & Chilli.
An appetising platter should not appear one-dimensional. Build platters up by using stands and add visual interest by using small dipping bowls for some items of food. Pile up foods that 'pile' well.
A lovely symmetry is created when there is three of everything on a platter – three types of cheese and so on. Spread your threes, rather than grouping like with like, so that guests can reach from any part of the table.
Start by spacing three cheeses across the board - Pams Finest Rotoiti Blue, Pams Finest Double Cream Brie, Pams Finest Tahatai Smoked Cheddar cater to a mix of tastes - then build around them with your other items.
We suggest adding the meats next - we love Pams Finest Artisan Biersticks, Pams Finest Prosciutto Crudo and Pams Finest Artisan Mini Salami - then fill the rest of the platter with smaller items.
Finish with berries or flowers. Alternatively, you could place one big cheese in the centre and build outwards.
Avoid awkward eating moments for guests. Slice hard cheeses such as gouda into little strips, so they're easier to pick up and eat.
Use bite-sized crackers or wafers such as Pams Finest Sesame Wafer Crackers or Pams Finest Natural Wafer Crackers. Cheese straws add a bite-sized fun element - we like Pams Finest Butter Cheese Straws.
And don't forget the pate! We love Pams Finest Peppered Chicken Pate.
There's nothing more unappetizing than wilting produce, curling meats and sweating cheeses. Smaller platters, that can be eaten quickly and then replaced with fresh ones, are best suited to summer entertaining.
Hot food should not go on a platter with chilled food. Serve your hot spicy chicken wings and samosas separately with dipping sauce.
Spare a thought for guests who may be coeliac or allergic/intolerant to certain foods, and prepare free-from platters for them. If you're unsure about what they can or cannot eat, just ask. They will be touched by your thoughtfulness.
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