Entertaining made easy!
The holidays are just around the corner and that means more festive events and parties with friends, family and colleagues. I personally love to host and throw parties for special milestones or occasions. It gives me great joy to bring my loved ones together and delight them with delicious food, catchy music and gorgeous party decor.
I’m often asked how I organise parties for large groups so effortlessly. I wondered about it myself and realised that the key to making any social event a success is through good food. As my Christmas gift to you, I’ve put together some of my tips and tricks and asked fellow “hostesses-with-the-mostest” for recipes that will make entertaining a big group of people really easy.
Plan for the unplanned!
If you love to entertain and run an open house, it’s always best to keep your fridge stocked with a few popular party snacks, so you’re not caught off guard. I recommend snacks such as any hard or soft cheese, that you can pair with your favourite wine or frozen snacks (which you can fry or bake quickly). Make sure to also keep packaged and bottled snacks that can be kept at home for a longer period of time such as crisps, salsas, mixed nuts or olive assortments that always go well with a cocktail. When you’re entertaining, presentation is half the battle, so make sure you put some effort in!
I absolutely love a gorgeous cheese platter! For a party of 40 people, my platter always includes five types of cheese, three hard and two soft kinds of cheese for variety. My favourite and recommended cheese spots are Feather & Bone, The Dutch Cheese and Monsieur Chatté. I always add fruits such as grapes and strawberries which are easy to pick and eat. Feel free to keep the grapes on the vine and the leaves on the strawberries for a bit of texture and colour. Next, make sure to have an assortment of crackers placed on the platter. I usually offer wheat-based and gluten-free options (in a large group, there are bound to be some with allergies!). Finally, put in cured meats, such as beautiful slices of prosciutto or salami or add olives and pickles if you prefer a meat-free platter (all can be found at your closest Marketplace).
Veggie & Dip Platters
An easy and healthy party snack is a vegetable platter that includes four different options. I recommend placing carrots, cucumbers, celery and red peppers on your veggie platters for variety and a pop of colour. Make sure to add a delicious dip such as hummus, tzatziki or an onion dip, which all pair well with white wine or a glass of bubbly. Hummus is easy to make from scratch, though if you are a bit tired, pop into M&S Food and buy it ready made.
These are among the most popular party snacks at most events. They are a great option for vegetarians considering they usually come with a simple but delicious filling of potato and peas. You can always add chilli to give it some heat if you prefer. These are easy to make and require the same pastry wrappers that you use for spring rolls. You can also buy them frozen from Indian stores such as Star Mart and You Store. While they are normally served deep fried and piping hot, you can also air fry the samosas for your health and calorie-conscious guests. Serve with fresh coriander chutney or with ketchup.
The best thing about spring rolls is that you can customise them to suit your guests. Fill them with either ground chicken, pork or beef, or keep it meatless and use vegetables such as carrots and white onions. When making them, try to roll the logs as tight as possible to avoid the grease from seeping in when frying and these rolls are best deep fried. They can be enjoyed with sauces like ketchup for kids, or sweet chilli for adults who enjoy a bit of spice with their snacks. Golden, crunchy and in fun bite-size portions, these spring rolls are highly addictive.
Most Indians know and love this street food. Pani puri is normally served with boiled mashed potatoes, sprouted moong dal and a sweet, spicy and tangy syrup mix made with tamarind and cane sugar. But it may not be quite to the taste of non-Indian palates. Which is why I particularly I like this version that a friend (an interior designer and stylist who knows a thing or two about presentation!) made. She based it on this recipe. It looks rather fancy but is very easy to make.
Slit the avocados, scoop out the flesh and cut into small cubes. Squeeze some lemon juice all over the chunks. Add raw salmon (source this carefully) and mix it well with the avocado. You can add some spicy sauce such as Siracha with some mayonnaise into the salmon and avocado mix. Only when you are ready to serve this dish to your guests, make small cracks on the top of the puris (a crisp, hollow and spherical pastry that you can buy at Indian and Nepali stores or fry at home) and make a hole just enough to fill them. In each puri, add a teaspoon full of cooked rice and then add the salmon and avocado mix. Then sprinkle each with some spring onions and have fun eating the entire puri in your mouth! The mix of flavours and textures makes it the perfect (and most unique!) appetiser for all guests.
Quiches are also another favourite as savoury snacks. To make them, start by baking the pie crust (can be home-made or store-bought and frozen) evenly until golden. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, heavy cream, salt and cayenne pepper. Place pie crusts in pans and fill in with shallots, Gruyere cheese, spinach and then pour over the egg and cream mixture. Lastly, top with more spinach as you wish. Bake and serve it piping hot or warm.