A good friend put me onto the wonders of these things a few years ago, but it was only last year that I bought the one pictured above from K-mart for only $10. While it’s not the sort of appliance I use every day, it’s been such a handy thing for hospitality and family meals. With one of these you can turn left-over amounts of casserole, stroganoff and bolognese into yet another dinner, for only the cost of the ready-rolled puff pastry. If I’m trying to be a good mummy, I will then serve each family member a pie with three steamed veg on the side – so it’s not too unhealthy. Pies that come out of these machines can be frozen and reheated later and if you keep a can of apples in your pantry, it’s really not too hard to whip up a dessert of hot apple pie for whoever you’re eating with. If you’re making pies for a crowd they can be kept warm in a low oven while the next ones are cooking in the pie maker, but you will find this process faster if you buy the Sunbeam machine that allows you to cook four at once (I couldn’t be bothered because the K-mart one was so cheap!). Finally, I like these machines for stretching meals out – one family size casserole all of a sudden feeds two families easily for not much extra cost, making homemade pies a great meal to give away.
A ramekin or ramequin, also known as a bouillon bowl, is a small glazed ceramic or glass serving bowl used for the preparation and serving of various food dishes. The word is from French (as ramequin), and before that Middle Dutch and Middle Low German. – wikipedia.com
Through a process of trial and error, I’ve realised that one of the best ways to make catering affordable is to make sure I’m on top of portion control. Sometimes this means making sure I do the serving, or asking those serving up to keep to a certain amount per person, but another way I’ve discovered of doing this is to use ramekins. These gorgeous little heat-proof bowls come in a variety of shapes and sizes for all sorts of purposes. I’ve used them for both savoury and sweet pies, moulding rice onto each plate (looks lovely too!) and for setting desserts in. I love how they make serving easy and beautiful at the same time- with the added benefit of controlling portions and keeping costs down. Another great thing about these nifty little treasures is they’re quite cheap to buy.
Definitely a winner for hospitality at home!
RECTANGULAR TART TINS
Over the years I’ve found myself getting annoyed at having to cut up round quiches and cheesecakes when catering for large groups of people. It’s hard to keep it looking nice and it’s also difficult to make round dishes go as far as I need them to. I saw one of these rectangular tart tins in a shop and my eyes lit up! Since that original purchase, I’ve bought 3 more of these because when it comes to affordable catering, these have been a life saver. The standard shape of them fits perfectly in the oven – and all four can go in at once. What’s more, the loose bottoms on these tins means that the food never gets stuck. But perhaps the thing I like best about these is that they make cutting up and serving dead easy. The food survives the cutting up process and it’s easy to get the right number of portions out of each one. I use these regularly for easy desserts like lemon tarts and affordable mains like quiches. As well as all these benefits, each tin will only set you back $7-$10.