Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Entertaining made easy

Whenever my sister-in-law invites you to a party you know you're in for a great time. Everything is delicious and there is always a great buzz and loads of laughs. She likes to serve canapes called "Devils on horseback", that are prunes soaked in brandy and then wrapped in bacon and grilled. She hands them round saying "We like to keep our guests regular".
Apart from that, her entertaining is a very serious business, with lots of forward planning and organisation. Over the years I have picked up a lot of useful tips from her. The most logical one is to imagine what everyone's plate will look like when all the food is served up, whether it is a sit-down meal or an easy-going buffet, then just multiply that by how many people you have invited so you know how much to prepare. She says that good advance planning is essential. Choose dishes that need as little as possible in the way of last-minute attention and, preferably, a few which can be frozen ahead and simply thawed and served on the day.

So here is a party check list that I hope you will find useful, whatever sort of party you are planning.

1. What is the occasion? Is it formal or informal?
2  How many people do you think you will be catering for?
3  How much space do you have? Should you hire a village hall or oratorio,rather than squeeze everyone into your small flat?
4  Think about the time involved in shopping and preparing food, and ask for help.
5  Make sure you have enough equipment, serving dishes, cutlery, glasses, crockery.
6  Don't be over-ambitious, stick to dishes you are confident with.
7  Plan your menu well in advance and spread the work out as much as possible.
8  Don't make anything that will spoil if kept waiting, like risotto.
9  Once you have prepared the food, arranged the table, welcome your guests and make sure the party is going with a swing, then relax and enjoy yourself!
Something fizzy is always welcome at a party

Balloons add colour but beware not to blow them up too much then they won't pop.

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