Easy & Homemade Party Food Ideas December 13, 2017 Marta Party season is here and if you are hosting one, the task might seem a bit daunting… You want to impress your guests with your hosting skills, make sure that everyone is catered for and you want to enjoy the company of your guests and have fun… stressing about food yet alone spending most of the evening in the kitchen shuffling the dishes in and out the fridge and oven is not ideal… but fear not! We’ve got some tips and ideas for tasty and easy party food to impress all… Canapes are the timeless party food classic. It takes a bit time to prepare them and they disappear pretty quickly but they are always well appreciated and you can be as fancy and stylish, rustic and colourful as you want and just let your imagination run freely when decorating them. Here are few tips and ideas for the party canapes: If you are catering for a bigger crowd we recommend that you make your canapes few hours before the party and keep them in the fridge under a cling film. Crackers or soft bread might get soft and soggy unless served soon after prepared so use a baguettes cut into oval slices or pumpernickel which is dark and dense German type of bread. The list of canapes toppings is endless but here are tried and tested few: Mozzarella, tomato and basil, soft cheese (such as garlic & herbs Philadelphia) with smoked salmon and dill, chicken pate topped with gherkin slices, chorizo with sundried tomato and parsley, blue cheese with grape. If some of your guests are vegetarians, make sure that you serve veg canapes on a separate platter. Tortilla chip canapes are additional and more interesting option but they need to be prepared shortly before the party so the chip doesn’t get soggy. You can use supermarket bought tortilla chips but it’s easy to make your own which will have more flavour to them: just cut a tortilla wrap with scissors into triangles (each wrap will make 12 tortilla chips) and toast them in the oven for 15 min at 180’C. Top each chip with soft cheese, smoked salmon, cucumber and dill. Mini tortilla wrap canapes are another option for party canapes which I always like as they can be made in advance and just wrapped in the fridge ready for party. Try this classic filler: mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, ham & cheese. Once you fill your wrap, cut it into small, sushi-like rings, secure with a party skewer – voila! Supermarkets offer wide range of hot party food and we’ve all been there and done that – they taste good, you buy them frozen, whack them in the oven and bam – there you have it! But if you have a bigger crowd it might be a bit costly and you don’t get that many in a packet, then all the different times of baking, different temperatures… I think I’ve spent to many Christmas parties in the past whacking in and out different trays into the oven where I just couldn’t keep up with demand and at the party I do want to have some time to mingle with my guests and not be in the kitchen all evening… so now I go for max 3 different things that I bake in the oven at the same time and it’s done. Mini rustic pizzas are easy to make and always tasty. You can make them on small pizza doughs but I like them most simply on a slice of baguette or a puff pastry squares. Mix of grated cheese and tomato sauce will be your base. You can add chopped and fried mushrooms with garlic, ham or smoked sausage. Bake them in 180’C at for 15 min and serve with sprinkle of chopped chives, basil or parsley. For salads try those colourful and filling ones that won’t get soggy and won’t lose their volume after few hours. Roasted butternut squash and feta salad: cut roasted butternut squash into chunky cubes, mix with caramelized red onion, chopped fresh coriander and crumbled feta cheese. Season to taste. Potluck pasta salad: for base mix cooked fusilli pasta with chunks of tomato, cucumber, sliced olives, shredded spinach leaves/ lettuce. You can use French salad dressing or bit of garlic dressing and add whatever other ingredients you fancy such as toasted pine nuts, sliced chicken breast etc. Broccoli and mozzarella salad: cooked broccoli florets, chopped red onion, mozzarella salad balls, sliced black olives, tomatoes, seasoning and splash of olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. Cheese board with few different cheeses, crackers, bread sticks and grapes is something that I always serve at the house parties alongside with platter of cured meats such as different varieties of ham and smoked sausages. Both those platters scan be assembled way before your party and stored in the fridge giving you plenty of time to get ready for guests. My crowd’s favourite is this cheesy tear and tear share bead. Just get a round bread (bloomer or sour dough is fine) make deep diagonal cuts into the loaf both ways to create chequer like pattern. Fill the cuts with chopped spring onion and cheese. Bake in the oven until cheese has melted. Quiche or a tart is one of my favourites when having guests over as it always turns out great and you can prepare it beforehand and serve chilled or hot. Line a loose-bottom tart tray with shortcrust pastry and bake for 20 min in a 200’C pre-heated oven until golden. I use ready-made shortcrust pastry in the roll as it’s quick and easy (The cost is similar to if you had made it from scratch but without the time making it or the mess!) For the filling base I cook 3-4 medium size potatoes, mash them into pure with a big dollop of cream and seasoning. Then beat 3 eggs into the filling and add a handful of grated cheese and some roughly chopped leaks. Spinach, broccoli or asparagus will work well as well. Spread the filling inside the previously baked shortcrust pastry form. Add sliced tomato, sprinkle of parsley or dill and grated cheese on top and bake at 180’C for 25-30 min. Leave it to cool or serve hot. At the parties I like to serve a cold version with some rocket on top. Homemade humus is delicious and easy to make. By making it yourself you can make a larger volume at ¼ of the cost as one bought from the supermarket. Drain one can of chickpeas in water and set few chickpeas aside (for decoration later) and keep some of the water aside. Blend the chickpeas into smooth pure. Add 4-6 tb spoons of olive oil, 1-2 tb spoons of peanut butter as alternative instead of tahini paste. Add a small splash of balsamic vinegar. Blend until smooth. If your humus seems a bit ‘dry’ add some of the water which you’ve set aside earlier and blend some more. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, few whole chickpeas scattered over and some fresh coriander or parsley leaves. Your hummus will be delicious with some carrots sticks and homemade tortilla chips. These are just few ideas for the party food that I’ve tried and tested myself.