I love a party! I can party like a trouper until at least 9pm- sometimes even 9.30pm at a push!!!
Okay I know- getting old!!!! There’s nothing like having a few friends over or seeing some family that you haven’t seen in awhile and catching up and having a giggle. I love introducing friends or bringing friends together that don’t know each other well or only vaguely and seeing the conversation that develops.
Since moving to England, we have found it difficult to have too many parties, but since moving into our cottage, we can just manage to squeeze a few people in and have some fun.
A big thing for me is being able to put the party together and then get a little makeup on and some perfume and enjoy the company!!!! Most of my ideas for party food and organisation were ones that I learnt in the States. I have had to adapt a little here in England as some things are just not available. For example, you can’t just walk into a supermarket here in and pick up a tray of crudite with dip from the produce section. You may be able to order them in advance but I just haven’t bothered. Another thing that I have noticed when feeding the Brits, is that with some ( not all!) you have to explain that some items of food need to be dipped and which dip to use, even if it is on the serving plate, because they will eat a plain piece chicken or a plain meatball, or put something spicy straight into their mouth that needs to be tempered by a dip and then declare that they do not like that kind of food. As I say, not all people, just some. So I try to ensure that everyone knows what their options are at the table!
Anyhows! My plan is generally to give myself two hour to put together a table of heavy and light hor d’oeuvres within in two hours. If I am able to, I will prepare some items the day before to get ahead. Some items can be store bought. Store bought pastry is my secret weapon- the other being food scissors! I have always kept one pair of scissors in the kitchen with a specific colored handle, that is only ever for food preparation. This can take the time out of several tasks including cubing meat as well as cutting pastry.
So my store bought items to get the party going are;
Spiced sausages (Can’t get as many in UK so will explain how to prepare simply)
Cheese board and pack of cheese biscuits
Meatballs (or can make your own)
My make aheads are;
Chicken liver patty
Crudites if you can’t get store bought
Focaccia bread dough
So it depends on whether this is a lunchtime party or evening. If it is lunchtime/afternoon, usually it is because some people have to drive some distance, so I make mimosas/bucks fizz or Bellini, so that we can toast the occasion without getting anyone drunk, most people will have at least a small glass just to get festive. Other than that, I usually have a choice of herbal teas available, beers that I know the guests like and some light wine such as Chenin Blanc for those who do not have to drive.
If it’s an evening party and everyone has planned to get home without driving, I go to Chardonnay as it pretty much goes with everything. Usually an Australian with a touch of oak. Again, beer for those who like it.
I also set up a martini bar with a couple of types of vodka, Irish cream liquer, white chocolate liquer (Godiva) and other martini ingredients, but that is for another time!!
So without procrastinating anymore, lets get this party started!
Bread oven recipe;
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1lb 2oz / 500g strong white flour
1tsp /3g Instant yeast
Place into bread pan in order listed then use the dough programme. When finished, wrap in food wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Next day, press out into a square and create indentations in the dough using your fingers. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with dried rosemary and sea salt. Place in an oven heated to 400F /200C for approx 25 mins. Place on a rack to cool, then cut into small rectangles to serve. Serve with olive oil blended with balsamic vinegar and olive oil blended with red wine vinegar.
Chicken liver pate
This a refreshing lighter pate that people keep returning to. This recipe makes a decent sized dish to accommodate this!!
4 tbsp butter
½ cup sliced green onions (spring onions)
2 garlic cloves minced
¾ to 1lb chicken livers drained
¼ tsp salt
1/8tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp dry white wine
2 tbsp drained capers
¼ cup sour cream
2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp chopped drained roasted red peppers (from jar)
Chopped fresh parsley
French bread or cheese biscuits/crackers to serve
- Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, saute for 2-3 minutes, or until softened. Add remaining 2 tbsp butter and the chicken livers, with salt and pepper. Cook 8-10 minutes or until thoroughly cooked, stirring occasionally. Add wine and cook for 2 more minutes. Cool for 15 minutes.
- Put mixture into a food processor with the capers and pulse until chunky. Stir in the sour cream, mustard and peppers. Spoon into a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Just before serving, sprinkle with parsley. Serve with crackers or bread.
You will need to soak the food processor bowl first from preparing the pate, so while that is soaking with hot soapy water, prepare some celery, carrots and broccoli, cutting into batons and the broccoli into bite size pieces.
Then place into food processor;
1 can chickpeas or cecci beans
4 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp sea salt
Blitz then place in a serving dish and surround with the crudite.
OKAY!!! WHO KNEW YOU COULD MAKE BLINIS THIS WAY AND DIDN’T TELL ME?
I happened to meet an American chef here in the village a few days ago and she told me this trick!!!!!
Use baking mix or ‘American pancake mix’ if in UK, making according to pancake instructions.
Place mixture in an icing bag and pipe onto a hot griddle or nonstick skillet and cook both sides until browned. Cool and place in a container and refrigerate until next day.
1 package of rolled shortcrust pastry
1-2 packs of feta
Curry powder of your choice
Mini muffin nonstick baking pan
- Cut pastry with food scissors into small squares and lay into each muffin section of baking pan.
- Cube the feta and place on each pastry.
- Blend a couple of tablespoons of marmalade with curry powder to taste and warm in the microwave in a ramekin. Spoon onto tart then place in oven heated to approx 180C/ 350F for approx 15 mins. Put on a serving platter.
If using store bought meatballs, place on a tray and place in the oven with the tarts until cooked through. Place on a platter with your favorite BBQ sauce to dip with.
1 ½ lb ground turkey
1 cup uncooked quick oats
2 medium egg whites
1 large onion finely chopped
¼ cup parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1 ½ tsp beef bouillon granules (beef stock cube)
½ tsp black pepper
1 ¼ cup of you favorite BBQ sauce
Oven at 350F/180C. Combine all ingredients except the sauce in a bowl.
Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Shape the meatball mixture into sixty 1 inch balls, place on the baking sheet.
Bake for approx 25 minutes, until cooked through. Heat the sauce over medium heat, then pour over the meatballs in a serving bowl and toss to coat.
Your oven is probably full at the moment so pull out the press grill or a George Forman grill. If you are using store bought spiced sausage, cut on the diagonal and place on the grill. Press the grill so that you get the char lines. Put on a platter to serve with BBQ dip.
UK people, If you don’t have pre-spiced sausage, I recommend getting some value sausages such as Sainsbury’s Basics, as these don’t have flavours to interfere with spices. Thaw slightly then cut on the diagonal- easier to do when slightly frozen. Toss in some spices such as cajun or jerk spices. When thawed, follow the cooking & serving instructions above.
BROCCOLI & CAULIFLOWER BITES
2 bunches of broccoli cut into bite size florets
1 head of cauliflower cut into bite size florets.
¾ cup seasoned dried breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder
Turn up oven to 475F / 240C.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil; add the broccoli and cauliflower and cook until crisp tender approx 4-5 minutes. Drain and place in a large bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. Then drain and place in a large bowl.
Combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a small bowl. Coat the vegetables well with cooking spray, then sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture and toss to coat evenly. Place in a large baking pan and bake, uncovered for approx 15 minutes until nicely browned.
Place on a serving platter.
Okay, you can turn the oven off now!!!
If you don’t want to make blinis, you can use slices of sourdough bread cut into small rounds!
Blend ¼ cup of sour cream with dijon mustard to taste.
Cover each blini with the cream.
Place a few slices of smoked salmon on each round.
Top with either a caper or a sprig of dill.
Make some with just the sour cream without the mustard.
Place on a serving platter.
CAESAR CRAB/SEAFOOD TACOS
These can be made either with a can of crab meat or two or you can shred those seafood sticks and use. Your choice! The crab has more flavor, but the sticks provide an economy that can be hidden by lemon juice and dressing!!! I actually skip the cheese as my husband does not eat cheese and they are still good- so you have that option for lactose intolerant guests!!!!
2 packs of surimi/seafood sticks OR
2 cans of crabmeat
½ cup of store bought Ceasar dressing such as Newman’s Own
3 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1 pack of tortillas
2oz fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
In a medium bowl, combine the seafood & ¼ cup of dressing. Toss to coat. In another bowl, toss the other ¼ cup of dressing with the lettuce.
With your food scissors, cut a couple of tortillas into quarters.
Place some seafood mixture on a tortilla quarter, top with lettuce and then cheese. Roll and secure with a toothpick. Place on a serving platter. Cut more tortillas as needed, depending how much mixture you have to use.
SHRIMP COCKTAIL (KING PRAWN)
½ cup ketchup
2-3 teaspoons prepared horseradish or more to taste
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1lb deveined medium shrimp (king size prawns)
In a small bowl combine the sauce ingredients to taste. Measures are just suggestions. I like to blow the sinuses out with this sauce!
Mix well. Place in a dip dish.
Arrange the shrimp on a serving tray and sprinkle with lemon juice. Serve with the dip dish in the centre of the tray.
Run to your bedroom and slap on some makeup on perfume!!!!!!
#foodandwine #gourmet #winewithfood #hord’oeuvres