WORDS:: Chyka Keebaugh
PHOTOS:: Lisa Atkinson
What? A girl can't dress a table in stripes and shamrocks just for fun? Yes, of course, she can!
I’ve got a theme and nothing makes me happier than having a little get together to celebrate St Patrick's day. We all know someone who knows someone who is Irish, that beautiful accent and the warm sense of humour. So why else do we need a reason to throw a dinner party together?
This simple but striking idea started when I discovered this bold green and white striped fabric at IKEA. Fresh and contemporary, this stripe was bought by the metre and used as a table cloth. I have been doing this quite a lot of late, purchasing two metres of fabric here and there to change up the look of a dining setting in one swift move. It is so much more cost effective than having a cupboard full of tablecloths, just simply iron and use. And when you are finished with it - you can wash and reuse, or even better: cut them and sew them into smaller napkins to mix and match at another time.
Being the plate collector that I am, I already had some green and white spotted plates. And sitting them onto of the stripe just worked beautifully and created a simple, fresh look while still using greens and whites. It’s such a strong combination of colours that is just not seen often enough. I think green is often shied away from, it is sometimes hard to match with and for a dining table setting seen as too out there, but no! Green is bold and gorgeous, and I love it. Especially now as us Australians move into autumn and the lushness of our garden foliage is dying off, why not keep it at the forefront?
Adding some fernery to the centre of the table gives our table setting some texture and movement. It’s always great to add some height to your dining table, some layers of interesting items will always make a table more inviting and a bit of a talking point. It doesn’t need to be crazy, just stick with your palette. What do you already have in the house that will compliment your theme? Can you recycle an old item into something new and create a centrepiece? Get creative with what you have; you don’t always have to buy to build a new look. The paper shamrock is a perfect placeholder, bright and fun; just like St Patrick's day!
And what’s a table without a delicious Cake?
Chocolate Guinness Cake Ingredients ::
- 100g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 75g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
- 200 ml Guinness, plus extra for the icing
- 200 g plain flour
- 20 g cocoa powder
- One teaspoon baking powder
- Two large free-range eggs
- 200 g golden caster sugar
Sour Cream Icing ::
- Three tablespoons sour cream
- 200g icing sugar
Chocolate Guinness Cake Method ::
- Cube the butter and chop the chocolate, then place in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Allow to melt.
- Remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
- Stir in the Guinness – don’t worry if it seizes or splits, it’ll come back together when mixed with the other ingredients.
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Grease a 23cm cake tin with butter.
- In a medium bowl, mix the flour, cocoa and baking powder. In another bowl, beat the eggs and sugar for about 3 minutes with an electric mixer until fluffy.
- Beat half the chocolate mixture into the eggs until combined. Add half the flour, then combine again.
- Repeat with the remaining flour and chocolate.
- Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. If the top is colouring too much after 30 minutes, cover it with tin foil.
- Take the cake out of the oven, cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
- For the icing, beat together the sour cream and icing sugar until smooth, then stir in 2 tablespoons of Guinness. If it becomes too loose, add more icing sugar.
- Spread over the cooled cake and serve.