Throw a summer party
busy planning my 34th birthday party. I’m hoping to do better than the mojito
party I threw for a friend’s birthday last year. I spent one whole gorgeous
summer’s day inside, rolling cheese and fillings in pastry, making spanakopita,
fritters, making flatbreads…
When the first guests arrived I slipped off my apron and promptly put myself in
charge of dispensing obligatory vodka shots. Being a sympathetic host, I had
several myself. I lasted about… oh… an hour. Then I crashed, crawled to a
small room and begged everyone to leave the lights off and me alone. Not this
party-hostesses most shining moment…
But a cautionary tale, dear reader, because there is nothing worse than
spending more time prepping for a party, than actually having one.
Here is my plan to get through party-season without a plundered wallet,
poisoned liver and 5% extra body fat…
Stick to a few main dishes and make lots. Cover a table with unprinted
newspaper or muslin and pile high with cornbread,
tortilla chips or colourful root-vegetable chips. Team it with chunky guacamole
hummus. All healthy and delicious. Add big bowls of sticky chicken wings.
Or cheesy meatballs. (Squeeze the meat from pork bangers, roll into small balls
and stick a small block of cheese into each before frying). Or bite-sized spare-ribs. (Get
a butcher to cut ribs into 5cm pieces.) Done.
Only make things that you can completely prep before guests arrive.
Sometimes you can’t resist the urge to fiddle just a bit. Mainly because you
need an excuse to open a bottle of wine and hang around in the kitchen hours before
the party actually starts. Still – you don’t want to be cooking when your
For those occasions
crostini is a great option. Brush 1cm thick slices from a French loaf with
olive oil and roast till golden. Top crostini with a smear of goat’s cheese and
some caramelised balsamic onions (or bought onion marmalade). The sky’s
the limit with toppings – smoked salmon and marscapone, charred red peppers,
hell, you can even make sticky oxtail.
Puff pastry is an easy way out – although not a healthy one. Roast a punnet of
tiny rosa tomatoes. Roll out a whole sheet of puff pastry. Top with roasted
tomatoes and your favourite cheese. Bake, scatter with pine nuts and rocket and
And then my final tip. Don’t be shy to buy as much pre-made stuff as
possible and give it your own twist. Take mini choux balls for example.
Many bakeries will sell you the choux ball sans filling if you order them in
advance. I fill mine with a thick béchamel sauce that is loaded with gorgonzola
cheese and drag them for a minute through a hot oven before serving. Absolutely
I want to hear what your best ideas for party food are – email me
here! Just remember – there are tired party girls like me everywhere who
need your ideas. The best party recipe contribution will get this month’s R500