Expert kitchen tips with Callum Hann, Philips Kitchen Appliances ambassador and MasterChef runner-up.
What's the plan?
Preparation and breaking down a recipe to make it as simple as possible are the best ways to keep cool when hosting. This can start with your shopping list, the most intimidating part of hosting can be deciding on the menu so take the time to sit down and plan the right meal for the occasion whether it's a range of light, finger foods, a BBQ, or a three-course dinner. Try and have a mixture of hot and cold dishes to take the pressure off – generally I like to aim for something cool to start, hot mains and then a pre-made dessert.
"Success is where preparation and opportunity meet"
Before you start cooking, preparation is an important step many people skip. Chopping, cutting, dicing, peeling and squeezing all ingredients before you start cooking means you can add them as needed and clean up while they are cooking, rather than desperately chopping each ingredient, watching the food already cooking, and feeling stressed and in a mess. You can also do this preparation in the morning, or the day before so that you can organise the house knowing the first and most time-consuming step is finished.
Stick with what you know
When you have guests over for dinner it is easy to get carried away and plan an elaborate, exciting meal which takes hours and is completely unfamiliar. I always avoid cooking anything too complicated, or anything I haven't attempted before. Instead, I like to choose something simple but delicious, and I find comfort food is always a success. If you do want to really impress your guests, I suggest choosing an easy, delicious main, and then spending some time creating a special dessert. These can usually be prepared in advance so if you won't feel time stressed, and the effort you've put in will show.
Create the right vibe
The other things I focus on when having people over include the ambience. It's always good to have a great playlist set-up, some wine or other beverages ready to serve, and food all prepped or cooking without requiring your attention when guests arrive, so that they don't feel they are in the way. Particularly around the Christmas season, your guests will want to relax and have fun, so putting thought in to these details is important to keep everyones mood high from the moment they walk in. An appliance like the Philips Airfryer XXL is perfect for this situation with a range of cooking functions, and it allows you to prepare, set and leave it to do the hard work so you're free to host properly.
Appliance: Philips Airfryer XXL
Serves: 4 (light lunch or entrée)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 4 minutes
1 ½ Tablespoons fish sauce
1 ½ Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Long red chili, finely sliced
3cm Piece ginger, finely grated
1 Bunch mint, leaves picked
1 Bunch coriander, leaves picked
1 Cup bean sprouts
¼ Cup plain flour
1/3 Cup roasted peanuts
½ Cup shredded coconut
½ Cup breadcrumbs
Juice of 2 limes
2 Eggs, whisked together
2 Lebanese cucumbers, finely shaved with a vegetable peeler
2 Green mangoes, thinly sliced
12 Large prawns, peeled (tails intact) and deveined
To make the dressing, whisk lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, chili and ginger together in a bowl until sugar dissolves.
Combine cucumber, bean sprouts, coriander, mint, mango and peanuts. Pour over dressing and mix gently to combine.
Combine coconut and breadcrumbs on a large plate. Place flour and beaten eggs onto separate plates. Coat prawns in flour, then egg, then coconut mixture.
Set Airfryer XXL to 200C. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until prawns are lightly golden and just cooked through. Serve prawns with mango, cucumber and mint salad.