What to serve at parties without stressing out

I know that what to serve at parties is a hot topic so I wanted to share the list I had pulled together of recipes I’d like to eat. Always a good place to start I think. You can also come along to one of my cocktail and appetizer classes if you’d like more ideas.

Firstly, when it is party season you need to be kind to yourself. I would much rather be served a good take away pizza (and lots of wine) by a jolly, happy host than be served a huge selection of home-made fiddly bits by someone who looks like they are about to have a breakdown. So, I suggest picking your battles. Make a couple (or more depending on your ability and time) of the things below and substitute them with other carefully purchased things. But take those bought-in things and add a little flourish so that it elevates them to something special.

I’m very much in favour of buying or making a few really good quality things in large quantities rather than a huge selection of less good quality stuff. The more things you make or buy, the more time you’ll spend plating up and re-heating and the less time you’ll spend having fun. And after all, that is what parties are for.

Try and get a mixture of things you’ll serve hot and things that are room temperature (so you can make them before people arrive). And get some balance of veggie and meat things too. I’d say 4-5 choices is the very most you need.

Things I like to buy and fancy up:

– a big chunk of hot smoked salmon which I’ll serve whole on a board with a bowl of lemon wedges, buttered soda or rye bread and maybe some lemon-dressed rocket [arugula]

– a big chunk (can you see the theme here) of one type of really good cheese – a mature Cheddar or Stilton, with a bowl of Bonne Maman fig jam and a stack of fancy cheese biscuits

– a platter of sushi with stacks of wasabi, pickled ginger and soy (all served in cute bowls) with a mug full of chopsticks. Just be careful about keeping this cool

– some ready to put in the oven party food (Trader Joe’s Stateside, M&S or Waitrose in Blighty). But add some extras like crunchy pickled veggies, special chutneys or dips and lots of wedges of lemon or lime. The acid really livens up shop-bought stuff.

– a big Melton Mowbray pork pie (only in England I’m afraid) with pots of good pickles for people to slather on

Here’s a link to all the recipes I like to pull out for parties.