Is entertaining stressing you out? Co-owner of Visco selected fine foods and experienced host and home cook Annalisa Tortora is here to help with her simple food tips that will please any crowd.

It’s that time of year again when, the whole family and some friends are coming around throughout the summer months to exchange gifts and catch up, but you have no idea where to start when it comes to summer entertaining. Well if you follow these simple tips from Annalisa Tortora you are sure to impress your guests and maybe even yourself. Annalisa and her husband are the owners of Visco Selected Fine Foods and have just released a new gourmet range – Val d’Elsa, that will help any novice entertainer make there gathering one to remember.

1. Become a pro at Antipasti 

An Antipasti platter is far from your simple share plate but it that doesn’t mean it takes more time or effort. Annalisa suggests the following;

  • Cheese: include cheese with various textures, a soft wash rind like Goat brie and a semi hard table cheese like asiago, then include a hard cheese like pecorino.
  • Add some relish to inject some colour to the platter
  • Good cured meats;prosciutto dolce, rustic salami and/or bresaola
  • Marinated and grilled vegetables and Olives; these will add a fresh touch to your platter and the dieters in the group with love you for it.
  • Stuffed peppers – bite sized peppers stuffed with marscopone cheese and truffle
  • Light coloured crackers, grissini or ciabatta Altamura bread.

Product tip: many of these items are available in the Val d’Elsa gourmet range, which makes your job even easier because they are pre-prepared and you can just arrange them on a platter for your guests to enjoy.

2. Look really smart – serve a tart 

Annalisa has supplied us with a quick and easy tart recipe that tastes great but is real simple to make.  insetad of serving up a cake or  another sweet option you could offer them a slice of delicious pecorino and potato tart.

3. Get crafty with the classics

Instead of having cranberry sauce with you Turkey for the 10th year in a row, swap it out for something a little more adventurous to jazz up Christmas lunch. This year Annalisa will be serving up Val d’Elsa Beetroot Relish with Aged Balsamic  Vinegar. It still has the vibrant colour of cranberry sauce but has a bit of extra flavour punch.=

4. Sublime seafood salad

With guests popping in and out and large families dropping by for lunch it’s almost impossible to serve up an Aussie Christmas favourite like seafood. Its expensive, hard to store but everyone expects it in the summer time. Instead cut coasts and stress and make a simple seafood salad that is sure to be a crowd pleaser, plus everyone will get their seafood fix without the bother of prawn shells and crab smashing. Annalisa has a nifty little recipe for a Mediterranean potato salad that is sure  to impress.  Val d’Elsa’s Seafood Antipasto, a fresh mix of cooked baby octopus, mussels and prawns is all you need in the seafood department. Just add these yummy sea creature to a salald of new boiled potatoes (peeled and cooled) with lemon juice, olive oil, chopped parsley and salt and pepper. Yum !

5. A marvellous Martini 

This one is an adventurous choice for summer entertaining but it just might be the one thing that sets you apart from all the other summer hosts. Annalisa raves about a Martini made of Gin Mare – a Spanish gin infused with Arbequina olives, basil, rosemary and thyme. Mix one part Gin Mare with two parts dry vermouth add some ice then shake or stir. If you want to make it a little fancy wipe fresh orange rind around the inside of the glasses then drop a twist of orange rind in the middle, finish by pouring over ice and a Sicilian green Olive. Annalisa assures “one taste and I promise you’ll be converted too.”

Hopefully by following these tips summer entertaining becomes a breeze and you’re the toast of the town.