Party Like a Grown-Up

There comes a time in every young adults life when the definition of the word party starts to shift. It’s quite subtle at first, you probably don’t even notice it happening. One minute you’re chugging vodka and jaeger-bombs in a festering student house and the next you’re standing on the doorstep of your mates new place, bottle of Prosecco in hand, about to attend something as ludicrously grown-up as a house warming party.

I absolutely love throwing parties but I realise for many it’s a fairly daunting task. Where does one start with party planning and preparations? A party can be as simple or as absurdly flamboyant as you like but the most important thing to remember is to have fun. If you’re in the kitchen flapping and stressing, your guests will not be having a good time. I’ve put together a fool proof plan for throwing your most grown-up party ever, including a few rustic canapés which you can throw together in a snap.

The Menu

  • Goats Cheese & Beetroot Tarts
  • Feta & Roasted Pepper Crostini
  • Pear & Blue Cheese Tart
  • Cheese & Charcuterie Board

The Planning

  • The first thing to do when planning a party is to actually plan the party. Set a date, decide on a time and invite your guests. Nobody likes wishy-washy, vague plans so make some decisions and stick to them.
  • Once you’ve set the wheels in motion it’s time to start thinking about your guests. Have you invited any vegetarians? Anyone with an allergy or food intolerances? It’s important that you find out before you start putting a menu together. The last thing you want is to accidentally invite a vegan to your Texas BBQ meat feast.
  • Now you can start thinking about what food and drink you want to serve. Be sensible and think about what you can realistically achieve. Remember, you’re trying to have fun not give yourself an anxiety attack. There’s nothing wrong with a wine and cheese night if you’re short of time (or a lousy cook).
  • The Preparation
  • The best way to be prepared is to write a list. What food do you need? What drinks? Do you need to put up some decorations? It’s best not to leave these kind of things to the last minute. If I need decorations I try and get them a week or so beforehand. Do the supermarket sweep the day before. If at all possible, avoid doing it on the day of your event. There’s nothing more stressful than a last minute dash around the shops, only to find that one thing you desperately need is unavailable.
  • On the day of your party, set aside some time to tidy up. Push the vacuum around, stash all of your piles of coats and miscellaneous junk in your bedroom and make the place look inviting. Do as much of the food preparation as early as you can so that you have time to tidy up the kitchen a bit. I always try to do as much as I can before the party starts, leaving an hour or so to get dressed before getting back in the kitchen to finish all of the last minute bits and pieces.
  • So that’s it; three simple steps to sophisticated soirée success! Keep reading if you’d like to see recipes for three very easy canapés.
  • Goats Cheese & Beetroot Tartlett
  • Ingredients
    • a packet of pre-rolled puff pastry
    • 200g soft goats cheese
    • 100g creme fraiche
    • a packet of cooked Beetroot
    • 1 tsp of Zataar
    • Olive oil
    • Salt

    Method

    1. Preheat the oven to 170°c. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
    2. Unroll the pastry and slice into neat rectangles, approximately 5cm long and 2cm wide.
    3. Line them up on the baking sheets, brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and zataar.
    4. Lay some more parchment over the top of the pastry and place another baking sheet on top. This helps to keep the puff pastry under control in the oven. Bake them for 10-15 minutes, or until all the pastry is golden and crisp. Set aside to cool.
    5. Prepare the goats Cheese by beating it into the creme fraiche. Season with a little salt and pepper. Place in the fridge until you’re ready to use.
    6. Slice the Beetroot into discs, and then quarters and set aside until needed.
    7. Assemble the canapés at the very last minute by spreading a little goats cheese on each pastry base and topping with beetroot and a sprinkle of zataar.

    Feta & Roasted Pepper Crostini

    Ingredients

    • 1 baguette
    • 200g creme fraiche
    • A jar of roasted peppers
    • 200g feta cheese
    • 3 cloves of garlic
    • Olive oil
    • Salt and pepper

    Method

    1. Preheat the oven to 150° and line a couple of baking sheets with parchment.
    2. Slice the baguette into 1cm thick discs. Lay them flat on the baking sheets and drizzle with oil. Season with a little salt and pepper.
    3. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, turning half way, to achieve a light golden colour. You may need to do this in several batches, depending on your oven capacity.
    4. Cut two of the cloves of garlic in half lengthways. Rub each crostini with the garlic. Set aside until later.
    5. Mince the last cloves of garlic and mix into the creme fraiche with some black pepper. Set aside until later.
    6. Crumble the feta and roughly chop the roasted pepper. Mix the two together and place in the fridge until requires.
    7. Assemble the canapés as late as you can by spreading with the creme fraiche and spooning over a little of the pepper and feta mixture. Garnish with a few leaves of fresh thyme if you have any.

    Pear & Blue Cheese Tarts

    Ingredients

    • A packet of pre-rolled puff pastry
    • 250g Blue Cheese
    • 2 pears
    • 1 tbsp dhukka
    • Oil

    Method

    1. Brush some oil over a couple of shallow 12 hole muffin trays.
    2. Cut the pastry into 4cm x 4cm squares and lay each square into the dips in the muffin pan.
    3. Thinly slice the pear and place a piece in each tart. Roughly chop the blue cheese and divide equally between the Tarts. Sprinkle a little dhukka on each tart and brush any exposed pastry with oil.
    4. Put the Tarts in the fridge until you are ready to bake. These are best served warm so try and have them coming out of the oven just before your guests arrive.
    5. Preheat the oven to 170°c. Bake the Tarts for 15-20 minutes, turning half way. Serve immediately.

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