Small Parties: More than 100 Recipes for Intimate Gatherings
Cooking for people is stressful. You have to suck that stress up and bury it. Otherwise, as host your rancorous mood will set the tone. Do not be too ambitious.
Ultimately, no one cares. They will remember how drunk they got and what a laugh they had. The food is almost immaterial, a mere framework for social interaction.
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Wine that needs decanting? A dessert that needs defrosting?
Do not lumber your host with extra work. Bring booze. Bring more booze than you need. It is the oldest, stingiest trick in the book. An easygoing sharing of the booze stash goes with the territory, but people must contribute fairly. Note: only a [shrill beep] would retrieve their leftovers as they leave. Touch it and it or the host will go off like Buckaroo!.
Think ahead: buy some ice and bring your chilled booze in a cool bag. It may be therapeutic. You know people who hover in the kitchen, nattering away, oblivious to the fact you have moved them 17 times to get to the oven or fridge? Likewise people who offer to lend a hand and then just … drift … off. How far a host should go in accommodating your free-from dietary requirements is a debate as fraught as whether or not gluten intolerance really exists. Intimacy matters here, as does the severity and complexity of those dietary requirements.
Numbers add up, too. Invite a close vegan mate as one of a party of six and, naturally, you will build a menu accordingly, or happily cook separately for them. Flag those intolerances up early and you might argue that, whether cooking for six or 16, it is no more or less difficult to cook an extra portion for one person with specific dietary needs. But, in reality, the larger the number of guests, the busier the kitchen, the greater the moving parts, the more of an imposition it becomes.
This is not a financial quid pro quo. Nor are you under obligation to cook from scratch. It should be a relaxing meal among people you love, not a high-wire test of your choux pastry. But you need to engage your brain. Do not turn up late with a starter that takes an hour to cook, causing an oven logjam. Then bring the bits, too: bread for toast, chutneys and pickles.
In this case, it really is the thought that counts. That, and bringing enough to comfortably feed everyone. This is a party, right? Do not bring dishes in, for instance, prized Staub cookware. Then cut the tomatoes into chunks, add to the avocado, along with finely diced red onion and finely chopped chilli. Juice the two limes and add to the avocado and tomato salsa along with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. I grate and slice all my vegetables for this on a mandolin — I find it gives a lighter texture to the end dish. Mix the dressing ingredients together in a jar, place the lid on the jar and give a good shake to mix.
If I am preparing this before I need it, I do all my slicing and place all the ingredients for the slaw in a bowl of iced water in the fridge.
Just before I assemble the salad, I drain off all the water, and the vegetables crisp up beautifully. Mix the dressing through the salad and put in a serving dish.
Sprinkle with coriander leaves to garnish. Pinch of Maldon sea salt. Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan. When it is melted, take off the heat and stir in the sugar, salt, chocolate chips, flour, cocoa and peanut butter. Pour the mix into the prepared tin and sprinkle chopped peanuts on top. Bake in the oven for minutes. There should still be a slight wobble in the centre of the brownie when you remove it from the oven.
Allow to cool for an hour. Then remove from the tin, cut into nine squares — three across and three down.
50 Corporate Holiday Party Venues for Your Chicago Event
Food photographs and styling Lynda Kenny visualfeasts. As well as canapes, buffets, and sut down dinners, you can order a selection of quiches, cold meats and salads for a more casual event. Catering can come complete with staff to set up, serve and clear away, or the order can be dropped off and you can claim it as your own work. The minimum order is for 20 adults. Wedding, corporate and private catering services are offered, with full-service and drop-off options available.
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