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October kicks off the start of vibrant gatherings and al fresco feasts that continue well into the holiday season. What better way to elevate your intimate at-home gatherings than by delighting your guests using chef-approved tips and ideas?
From a South African twist on a beloved snack to the art of choosing a hero ingredient to define your soirée, and even an enticing recipe for a beer and cheese soup that’s sure to be a hit with your guests the chefs from the Radisson Hotel Group reveal this season’s best culinary tips so that you can savour a Taste of Radisson at your next big event.
Get creative with a Cape Town classic
Capetonians will have fond childhood memories of visiting their local corner stores and buying paaper bite chips in beloved flavours like Fisherman or Secret spice. For Saffers that have not had the great pleasure of enjoying this uniquely South African snack, paaper bites are a chip snack (think like a nacho chip) that is made using the off cuts of leftover samoosa pastry. Quite simply, it consists of the three ingredients of the pastry, oil and a spice of your choice.
With a great love of championing uniquely Cape Malay flavours and culinary elements, inspired by his formative years in Bo Kaap, Chef André Hill at Radisson RED Cape Town V&A Waterfront utilises paaper on the hotel’s OUIBar + KTCHN menu in two ways: as a creative topping on his spiced chicken and smashed avocado burger as well as a dipping chip for smoked fish cream with soy dressing.
“Our Radisson paaper is slightly different to the original store-bought variety,” reveals Hill. “Firstly, we add chickpea flour to the dough mix, which is packed with fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Then instead of using a rolling pin we actually run the mix through a pasta machine so that each chip has consistency in thickness. Once fried we flavour the chips with a slightly acidic, aromatic Mother-In-Law spice blend of coriander, cumin, paprika, garlic, onion, ginger, chilli powder, black pepper, curry leaves, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, turmeric, mustard, cardamom, star anise and bay leaves.”
As paaper bites are essentially a crispy chip there are so many innovative ways to use it as an exciting addition to your gathering menu, advises Hill. “For a starter you could present them in different bowls seasoned in a variety of flavours and serve with homemade dips, or you could use them as canapés topped with salsa, smoked meats or caramelised onion and sauce. They could also be used a crispy decorative element to a dish, and you could make a South African inspired nacho dish using the paaper instead of tortilla chips,” Chef Hill concludes.
Choose a hero ingredient for your dinner parties
When going to dinner parties or at-home gatherings it’s very rare to have a host that chooses a hero ingredient or flavour that weaves into multiple dishes and drinks pairings for the evening. This is a simple yet underrated way to instantly wow your guests by getting inventive with dynamic ingredients that you already have in your pantry. “When it comes to choosing an ingredient that you want to tie in throughout the evening it really is a matter of personal preference. I suggest that you select more dominant ingredients like vanilla, chocolate, or coffee, and be mindful that your hero ingredient has to complement and not overpower the other flavours that you’re working with,” explains Chef Slobodan Stefancic of Radisson Blu Sandton.
“Wine and food pairings are subjective, so you don’t have to stick to the traditional rules of serving white wine with fish and chicken or red wine with meat – experiment and have fun putting together a menu you really like,” advises Chef Stefancic.
If you want to try your hand at a three-course hero ingredient dinner party, perhaps make it a chocolatey affair, as chocolate is usually a well-liked food item and easy to cook with. “For starters you could serve a chocolate-infused mole sauce drizzled over chicken wings. Mole sauce, or mole poblano, is a traditional Mexican sauce or marinade made by combining blended chilli, cocoa powder, and spices that pair perfectly with poultry. Next you could serve guests a main course of pepper-crusted beef tenderloin with chocolate-port sauce and lastly for dessert there are endless options like chocolate cake, chocolate fondue or a chocolate fondant. A wine pairing that would accentuate this menu could be Boekenhoutskloof’s The Chocolate Block vintage red blend wine, which has notes of blackberry, plum and of course cacao,” says Chef Stefancic.
Serve something your guests have never tried before: Beer and cheese soup recipe
Another easy way to delight guests is to serve something they may have not tried before, like a beer and cheese soup, says Chef Tyran Vaghi from the Radisson Blu Hotel, Port Elizabeth. “The soup is quite a rich sauce with sharp notes from the cheddar and a slight bitterness from the beer. It is very creamy and glossy, and it makes for a great yet unique dip for so many dishes. Personally, I prefer the flavour when combined with a BBQ style meal, like pulled pork or brisket. The soup also goes really well with shellfish, such as lobster, so it could easily be used as an alternative to Parmesan when making a thermidor,” he explains.
Chef Vaghi’s beer and cheese soup recipe
You will need:
50g flour – all purpose is fine
300ml room temperature beer (Chef Vaghi prefers Heineken for the taste)
100ml fresh cream
Combine the butter and flour in a saucepan over a low heat; once cooked it will go a light shade of yellow. Slowly start adding beer while whisking the mix and once all the beer is added cook for a further 5 minutes. Next add in the fresh cream and cook for 5 minutes. Lastly add in the cheddar and mix through until melted. Before serving check the seasoning of the soup, Chef Vaghi recommends adding a dash of white pepper.