The challenge? Put together an Italian inspired dinner party for $100 or less Where: A bungalow in Bondi, Sydney Guests: Four Courses: Three


Entree – Fresh and Light Caprese Salad Main – Green Risotto with Caramelised Mushrooms, Prosciutto and Thyme Dessert – Banana Cream Profiteroles with Mars Bar Chocolate Sauce


Because chicks dig salad… especially when they’re mainly made up of cheese, and disguised as salad. This recipe has three ingredients and will only take you about five minutes to throw together.


4 large, fragrant and red-ripe vine tomatoes, thinly sliced | 4 large, good quality balls of fresh mozzarella, roughly torn | 1 handful of freshly picked basil leaves, size variety is a plus


  1. Layer the torn cheese and tomatoes on your favourite serving plate.
  2. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the dish, before scattering the basil leaves as your finishing touch.

How much it’ll cost you: around $12 Tip: Using colourful heirloom tomatoes will make this dish even more beautiful. I like to roughly tear the mozzarella, exposing its amazing texture, to create a homemade, rustic look.


Because let’s be honest, using ‘green’ as the operative word to describe a meal makes any woman feel like they’ve got their sh!t together. 


1 brown onion, finely diced | 3-5 cloves of garlic (I use at least five but I’m a fiend), crushed | Olive oil | 2 zucchini, grated | Bag of mushrooms (I always use a couple of different types) | 2 cups Italian Arborio rice | 1 litre of veggie stock | 12 slices of prosciutto | Couple of fresh thyme leaves (dry is also fine) | Good pinch of dried chilli (optional) | Bag of fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped | 1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated. Optionally more to serve – please do not (ever) buy pre-grated Parmesan.


  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Begin to caramelise the onion over the stove before adding most of the garlic.
  3. After a few minutes, add the zucchini and three-quarters of the mushrooms, then the rice. Stir well so it absorbs the lovely flavours in the oil, ‘toast’ for just a minute, stirring continually.
  4. Add a good splosh of the stock, straight from the carton. I’ve found you don’t need to heat it beforehand; this just creates more work! Allow the stock to simmer and sink into the rice.
  5. Continue this process until three-quarters of the stock is gone – gradually adding more and allowing the rice to soak it up.
  6. Lay your bacon, leftover mushies and garlic, as well as the thyme, on baking paper and cook in the oven until very crisp and caramelised.
  7. Add the chilli flakes and baby spinach to the risotto.
  8. Continue to test the rice – you want it to have lost its crunch but not be too soft. When the rice is done, add the Parmesan. Stir to combine – the cheese should bring the dish together well, so it’s an oozy, creamy delight.
  9. Taste and season if required – I usually give a pinch of salt and a decent scattering of pepper.
  10. To serve, spoon risotto into bowls and scatter over the bacon and mushies.

How much it’ll cost you: around $25 Tip: Make the risotto the day before your dinner party and store in the fridge before reheating – the flavours will intensify and will be nothing short of mind-blowing – and all you’ll need to do on the night is whack the mushrooms, bacon etc into the oven to get crisp.


Because you’ve been good all night, and these babies are life-changing.


80g room-temperature butter, chopped | 1 cup water | 1 cup plain flour, sifted | 3 room-temperature eggs, whisked | 2 ripe bananas | 600ml thickened cream | 7 Mars bars


  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Bring the butter and water to the boil in a saucepan, then remove from heat and beat in the flour with a wooden spoon.
  3. Place back on heat and cook, stirring on a medium heat for two to three minutes until the mixture comes together into a ball. Set aside to cool.
  4. Slowly add in the eggs, a tablespoon at a time, beating well each time until the dough becomes thick and glossy.
  5. Line two trays with baking paper and plonk heaped tablespoons of the dough around 3cm apart on the trays.
  6. Wet hands and pat down any spiked peaks that may be on each mound of dough. Sprinkle each tray with water to create steam, bake for around 30 minutes until golden and puffed – keep an eye on them!
  7. Turn off oven and remove the trays – pierce each profiterole with a skewer to remove steam and place back in the oven for a few minutes so they dry out. Remove and leave to cool.
  8. Mash the bananas with a fork, and use an electric beater to combine with the cream.
  9. Just before serving, fill the profiteroles with the banana cream. Melt the Mars bars in a microwave for 30 seconds at a time, removing to stir with a fork and being careful not to burn the chocolate.
  10. Assemble the profiteroles in a tower-like shape on a serving dish, and pour over the glossy, melted Mars bars.

How much it’ll cost you: around $15 Tip: You can make the pastries a few days before your event, and on the night all you’ll need to do is fill them with the banana cream and top with chocolate. I use Mars bars because the malty nougat and sticky caramel melt down to make the most incredibly thick and glossy topping. You can decorate your tower with fresh strawberries or flowers for fun. Total spend: $52 approx Cost per person: $13 approx

Recipes + Food Styling Tori Clapham | Photography Angela Rose Woods