Changing perspectives

Eating under the table strips away the formality and brings everyone closer - physically and...
Eating under the table strips away the formality and brings everyone closer - physically and emotionally, writes Grace Bean. Illustration: Austin Milne
Picture this: it's Friday night, and the kitchen table looks as inviting as ever. But why settle for the ordinary when you can transform mealtime into an adventure right in your living room?

Forget Michelin stars - I’m talking about flipping the traditional on its head and creating an experience right in the comfort of your own home.

Who knew that the space under your dining table could rival the charm of a five-star restaurant?

This overlooked nook can transform into the ultimate hideaway perfect for heart-to-heart conversations and, let's face it, a giggle fest.

Sounds like an activity for kids? Don’t knock it until you try it!

Embrace the opportunity to reawaken your inner child and lean into your silly side.

Eating under the table strips away the formality and brings everyone closer - physically and emotionally. There's something about the novelty of ducking beneath the tablecloth that makes sharing stories and food a whole new experience. Plus, there's the added bonus of feeling like you're getting away with something mildly rebellious. Your inner child will love it.

If under-the-table dining is the main course, floor feasting is dessert. Spread out a picnic blanket, throw down some cushions and you’ve got yourself a living room picnic. It's the perfect remedy to the stuffiness of traditional dining.

The floor is where food meets freedom. You can stretch out, lounge comfortably, and let the conversation flow as freely as the wine. Relish the chance to eat without the constraints of a chair, and enjoy the nostalgic trip back to childhood picnics and sleepovers.

It’s an invitation to relax and let go, turning a simple meal into a bonding experience.

Eating in unconventional places within your home fosters a unique sense of connection. The shared novelty breaks the ice, prompting laughter and bringing a renewed sense of joy to an everyday routine. As you navigate the logistical challenges - who knew balancing a plate on your lap could be so tricky? - you’ll create memories that outshine any gourmet restaurant experience.

In a world where we’re constantly seeking new ways to connect, sometimes the answer lies not in the latest gadget but in the simplest changes to our routines.

So, next time you sit down to dinner, consider a new perspective - literally. Under the table or on the floor, you'll find that food tastes better when seasoned with laughter and shared with those you love. Here are some upside-down recipes- perfect for turning dinnertime on its head.

Honey-roast vege upside-down tart

1 sheet flaky puff pastry

2 medium-sized carrots

2 parsnips

½ a large kumara (any type)

½ a leek

2 Tbsp honey

3 Tbsp pumpkin hummus

3 Tbsp pesto

Feta to serve


Preheat your oven to 200°C fan bake and line a baking tray with baking paper. If your pastry sheets are frozen, allow to thaw while you prep and cook the veggies.

To prep the veggies, chop the kumara into 1cm squares, then the carrots, parsnips and leek into 1cm rounds. Place directly on to a baking sheet.

Place your honey in a heatproof ramekin and heat in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds - you want it to be runny enough to easily evenly coat your veggies.

Drizzle the heated honey over the veggies along with a drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss until the veggies are evenly coated and evenly distribute them across the baking sheet.

Place the veggies into the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes or until golden.

Once the veggies are cooked, remove them from the oven. Using a spatula, gently push them towards the middle of the baking sheet.

Spread your thawed pastry with the hummus and pesto.

Place the pastry, pesto and hummus side down, over the top of the cooked veggies (tarte tatin-style) ensuring that there is a 2cm border between the edge of the veggies and the edge of the pastry. This border will allow the edge of the pastry to create a yummy crust.

Using a fork, press down around the entire border of the pastry and then prick the middle a few times.

Place your creation back into the oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes, or until your pastry is golden and puffy.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 5 minutes. Once your pastry has slightly cooled, take a second baking sheet and place it over the top. Gently lift and flip the two baking sheets, so the bottom of the tart becomes the top.

Peel away the baking paper to reveal your creation.

To serve crumble over a handful of feta and drizzle with some more honey.

Top tip: This recipe is limitless. The honey roast veg can be replaced with any ingredients of your choosing. You can even turn it into dessert - try baking some thinly sliced apples with a sprinkle of brown sugar and use the same process to create a delicious treat.

Pear, honey and walnut upside-down cake

3 large pears, halved then thinly sliced

2 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)

300g butter

1 ½ cups sugar

3 Tbsp honey,

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup walnut pieces

1 cup yoghurt

1 cup milk

3 ½ cups self-raising flour

150ml cream or ice cream to serve


Preheat oven to 160°C fanbake. Grease one roasting dish or two 20cm springform cake tins and line with baking paper.

Place the pear slices in a decorative pattern at the bottom of the greased cake pan. You can overlap them slightly to ensure full coverage. If desired, sprinkle a layer of brown sugar over the arranged pear slices for added flavour and caramelisation.

In a large bowl, beat softened butter, sugar, honey and vanilla until pale and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Fold through the walnuts and yoghurt.

Add the flour and milk and gently fold the mixture until evenly combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared roasting dish or cake tins over top of your pear pattern.

Make sure the batter is spread evenly.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until the cake is set and golden.

Can be served warm or cool. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.

Anything and everything frittatas

This recipe is the perfect handheld dinner for living room floor adventures! Plus it’s the perfect way to use up any extra veges from your upside-down tart.

6 large eggs

250ml cream

Any veges or leftover meat of your choice - I used:

4 large florets broccoli chopped small

¼ of a kumara cut into 1cm squares

¼ of a leek cut in half, and then into thin slices

4 button mushrooms, sliced thinly

3 rashers of streaky bacon, sliced thinly

A handful of spinach

About 50 grams of feta

A handful of grated cheese


Preheat you oven to 200°C standard bake.

Grease a 12-holed muffin tin.

Chop your veges and meat into small pieces as you want to make sure that each tin gets an even distribution of everything.

Using a medium-sized frypan, fry off all your meat and vegetables with a drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper until soft and fully cooked.

While that’s cooking, whisk together your eggs until fully combined, and season with salt and pepper.

Once your vege and meat mix is finished cooking, gently scoop it into the muffin tin, filling the tins about ¾ full.

Pour the egg mixture over the vege filling to the top of the tins.

If using feta and/or grated cheese, sprinkle over the top of the filled muffin tins.

Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then gently remove the frittatas from the tin using a spoon.

Serve with a dollop of tomato relish.