Perfect Party Food

by Dec 22, 2015
PartyFood

We give you some tips on creating simple but effective party food to keep the guests happy and the celebrations firmly in check.

Tis the season to be jolly… or do they mean greedy? After all, December gives us license to indulge in many ways, but be it Christmas parties, New Year celebrations or even a birthday bash, you may find yourself the one in charge of feeding the masses. So for these occasions, we give you a few recipes to make life just that little bit easier because let’s face it, you will have probably had a few glasses of wine before you get going (and why not).

Spinach and Feta Puffs
Skill level: Easy

Party Food - Cheese Puffs

Ingredients (for 4-6 people):
Bag of frozen spinach
½ cup crumbled feta
½ an onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped dill
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1 sheet frozen puff pastry rolled out to a 12-inch square (kept chilled)

Method:
1. Defrost spinach and using your hands squeeze spinach until dry, forcing out as much water as possible (too much water will make for a soggy filling; you should have about ⅔ cup well-drained spinach).
2. Finely chop the onions and add this to the spinach in a medium bowl. Also add feta, dill and garlic to the mix and drizzle with oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. In a separate bowl, beat 1 egg to blend, then fold into spinach mixture.
4. Cut puff pastry into 3 equal strips. Set 1 strip aside and with remaining strips cut into 3 squares for a total of 6. Butter a muffin tin and place a square in each muffin cup, pressing into bottom and up sides and leaving corners pointing up. Divide the filling among the cups and fold pastry over filling, pressing corners together to meet in middle. Spinach puffs can be assembled 3 hours ahead of time. Cover puffs and chill.
5. Preheat oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Beat remaining egg to blend in a small bowl. Brush pastry with egg wash (this will give the pastry a nice sheen). Bake until pastry is golden brown and puffed for about 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let puffs cool for 10 minutes. Run a sharp paring knife around pan edges to loosen; turn out puffs onto rack to cool slightly before serving.

Recipe from: bonappetit.com 

Itty-Bitty Country-Style Eggs Benedict
Skill level: Medium

PartyFood_Eggs

Ingredients (makes 16):
Biscuit dough, 1 (16-ounce) can buy or homemade
½ pound breakfast sausage
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
16 quail eggs, plus 1 or 2 normal egg whites*

Roasted Garlic Cheese Sauce:
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 head roasted garlic, mashed
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
¾ cup milk (whole or low fat)
50g white cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and pepper

*Quail eggs tend to have a high yolk-to-white ratio. Adding 1 or 2 normal egg whites to the quail eggs and cooking them all together will ensure that you have enough whites between the yolks to form perfect sunny-side-up eggs

Method:
1. Preheat oven and bake biscuits according to package instructions. Cut sausage into 16 coins. Warm 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add sausages and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side; remove from heat.
2. Gently crack quail eggs into a small bowl and pour in chicken egg whites. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Carefully pour eggs into skillet and cook for 3 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 175°C/ gas mark 3 and place skillet in the oven. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes, or until whites have set. Gently transfer eggs in a single sheet from the skillet to a cutting board. Use a 1 1/2-inch circle cutter to cut eggs into 16 rounds, placing the cutter around a yolk so that each cut round looks like a little fried egg.
3. For the cheese sauce, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and flour and whisk for 3 minutes. Add milk and whisk until no lumps remain and the mixture begins to thicken. Stir in cheese and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 2 minutes more, or until sauce is smooth and creamy.
4. Slice each biscuit in half. Place a sausage coin over each biscuit half and top with a sunny-side-up quail egg and a drizzle of cheese sauce. Serve warm.

Recipe from: Buzzfeed

Creamy mushroom vol-au-vents
Skill level: Easy

PartyFood - Mushroom

Ingredients (serves 12):
350g all butter puff pastry
Plain flour for dusting
1 free-range egg
250g mixed mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic
1 dried red chilli (optional)
A few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley
Olive oil
½ lemon
2 tablespoons crème fraîche

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/gas mark 5 and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
2. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 5mm thick. Using a small cutter or wine glass, about 6cm across, cut out 12 rounds (you may need to re-roll the pastry).
3. Place the circles on the baking tray and prick their centres several times with a fork. Beat the egg, then eggwash the circles. Bake on the top shelf of the oven for about 12 minutes until puffed up, crisp and golden.
4. Roughly chop or tear the mushrooms, peel and finely slice the garlic, and crumble the chilli (if using). Pick and roughly chop the parsley.
5. Heat a lug of oil in a large pan and cook the mushrooms, garlic and chilli (if using), until golden.
6. Off the heat, squeeze in the lemon juice, then add the crème fraîche. Season well and fold through the parsley. If the mushrooms are too dry, add a splash of water to loosen the sauce.
7. For the vol-au-vents, cut a very thin layer off the top of each circle and use your knife to carefully hollow out a hole in each one.
8. Fill with the creamy mushrooms and serve – you can pop the pastry lids back on, if you wish.

Recipe from: Jamie Oliver

Garlic and parmesan seasoned potato wedges
Skill level: Easy

PartyFood_Wedges

Ingredients (4-6):
3-4 large potatoes, sliced into wedges
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
Optional: fresh parsley (or cilantro), ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 190ºC/gas mark 5. Lightly grease a large baking sheet and set aside.
2. Place potato wedges in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. In a small bowl whisk together salt, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. Sprinkle potato wedges with the shredded cheese, tossing to coat, then sprinkle with the seasoning mixture.
3. Place potato wedges on prepared baking sheet in a single layer with skin-sides-down. Bake for 25-35 minutes until potatoes are fork-tender and golden. Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley and dressing for dipping.

Recipe from: Creme de la Crumb

Crostini with Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese and Sage
Skill level: Easy

PartyFood-Butternutsquash

Ingredients (serves 6-8):
½ baguette, cut into slices ¼ inch (6 mm) thick
Olive oil for brushing
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
125 g butternut squash cut into slices ¼ inch (6 mm) thick
¼ cup /60 g fresh goats cheese
Honey for drizzling
Fresh sage leaves for garnish

Method:
1. Preheat an oven to 180°C/ gas mark 4.
2. Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush the tops lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until crisp and golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
3. Brush the squash slices on both sides with olive oil. In a stove-top grill pan over medium-high heat, in batches if necessary, arrange the squash in a single layer. Grill the squash, turning once, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a platter and let cool.
4. To assemble, spread 2 tsp. of the goat cheese on each baguette slice. Top with one slice of squash and drizzle lightly with honey. Garnish with a sage leaf, season with salt and pepper and serve.

Recipe from: Williams-Sonoma

Spicy Marinated Pork Belly Hand Rolls
Skill level: Medium

PartyFood-Pork Belly Hand Rolls

Ingredients (makes 10-12):
Marinade:
¼ cup Korean chili paste (gochugang)
2 ½ tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoons Korean chilli powder (gochugaru)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
15g thinly sliced pork belly

Sushi rice:
1 cup hot cooked brown rice
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup micro cilantro (regular cilantro leaves are fine)
1 cup micro amaranth, optional
10-12 soy wrappers

Method:
1. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.
2. For pork belly: Place all marinade ingredients into a small mixing bowl and whisk together. Place pork belly in a large mixing bowl and add marinade. Mix until thoroughly combined. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Lightly grease the surface of the grill/grill pan. Grill pork belly for 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and continue to grill for and additional 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from grill and set aside.
3. For sushi rice: Place rice in a mixing bowl and sprinkle with vinegar and sugar. Mix together until well combined.
4. To assemble: Place 2 tablespoons sushi rice onto one side of the soy wrapper (set widthwise), on a 45° angle. Top with a piece of pork belly. Top each piece of pork belly with a small amount of micro cilantro and micro amaranth.
5. Roll to form a tight cone and seal edge with a few grains of rice. Repeat until all materials have been used. Serve.

Recipe from: Spoon Fork Bacon

Spiced Pumpkin Hummus dip
Skill level: Easy

PartyFood - Pumpkin Hummus

Ingredients (makes a small tub):
1 can chickpeas (or fresh equivalent)
1 ¼ cup pumpkin pureé
2 ½ tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
3 teaspoons lemon juice
¼ tsp cayenne
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon paprika
2 cloves roasted garlic
Pinch of pepper
Pinch of cinnamon
½ pomegranate, seeded for garnish

Method:
1. Blend chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil together in a blender.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients, minus the pomegranate seeds, and blend.
3. Serve in a bowl and top with pom seeds and a drizzle of olive oil paired with smoked paprika and cumin pita chips.

Recipe from: Craft and Cocktails

Garlic Sweet Potato Fries
Skill level: Easy

PartyFood - Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients (serves 4):
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼ inch matchsticks
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
5 cloves garlic, pressed
½ cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves, for garnish

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.
2. Place potatoes in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Add olive oil and gently toss to combine; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Place into oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden and crisp, tossing occasionally.
3. Combine sweet potato with garlic and Parmesan.
4. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.

Recipe from: Damn Delicious

Crostini with Ricotta, Pears and Spiced Walnuts
Skill level: Easy

PartyFood - Crostini with Ricotta and Pear

Ingredients (serves 6-8):
½ baguette, cut into slices ¼ inch (6 mm) thick
Olive oil for brushing
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 cup (4 oz./125 g) walnut halves
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
1 pear
¼ cup / 60 g ricotta cheese

Method:
1. Preheat an oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4.
2. Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush the tops lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until crisp and golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Leave the oven on.
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
4. In a bowl, stir together the butter and maple syrup. Add the walnuts and toss to coat. In another small bowl, stir together the cinnamon, cardamom, cayenne and salt. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the walnuts and toss to coat.
5. Spread the walnuts on the prepared baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Toast until the walnuts are toasted and fragrant, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Coarsely chop the walnuts.
6. Immediately before assembling, cut the pear into quarters, remove the core, and thinly slice each quarter. To assemble, spread 2 tsp. of the ricotta on each baguette slice. Top each with 1 to 2 pear slices and sprinkle with the chopped walnuts. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Recipe from: Williams-Sonoma

Mini Chorizo Toad in the Hole
Skill level: Easy

PartyFood - Toad in the hole

Ingredients (makes 12):
1 x 250g pack (12 mini) cooking chorizo sausages
2 tbsp. sunflower oil
1 tbsp. finely chopped rosemary leaves

For the batter:
150g plain flour
¼ teaspoon English mustard powder
2 large eggs
200ml-225ml cold semi-skimmed milk

Method:
1. Make the batter at least 1 hour before you want to serve the puddings. Put the flour in a large bowl or jug with the mustard powder and a generous pinch of salt. Combine, then make a well in the centre.
2. Using an electric whisk on a slow speed, gradually whisk in the eggs, then in a steady stream add the milk (or milk and water mixture). Once incorporated, increase the speed to high and whisk for 2 minutes until smooth and lump free. The batter should be the consistency of double cream. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or for up to 24 hours to rest.
3. Preheat the oven to 220°C, fan 200°C, gas mark 7. Put each of the 12 mini sausages in the holes of a 12-hole nonstick muffin tin with ½ teaspoon oil. Prick each one with a fork. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until they have begun to release their fat. Stir the rosemary into the batter, then remove the muffin tray from the oven and pour the batter equally between the holes (it should sizzle on touching the oil).
4. Bake on the top shelf for 20-25 minutes until risen, puffed and golden.

Recipe from: Sainsbury’s Magazine

And for those with a sweet tooth… 

Red velvet cake ice cream
Skill level: Easy
(NOTE: you will need an ice cream maker)

PartyFood - Red Velvet Ice Cream

Ingredients:
¼ cup sugar
2 free range eggs (whole)
2 cups of full cream
1 cup of milk
1 small bottle of vanilla extract
2 small bottles of red food colouring
4 red velvet cupcakes
½ a cup of cream cheese frosting

Method:
1. Beat the eggs and sugar in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
2. Add the cream and milk and mix.
3. Add the vanilla and the food colouring.
4. Crumble up the cake and either add it all now, or half now and half at the end.
5. Churn your ice cream through an ice cream machine until it is set.
6. Remove and decant into a desired container that is suitable for freezing.

Recipe from: Drizzle & Dip  

Raspberries and Cream Macarons
Skill level: Medium

PartyFood - Macaron1 PartyFood - Macaron2

Ingredients (makes 14):
Macaroons:
¾ cup almond flour
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1 pinch cream of tartar
¼ cup extra-fine sugar
Food colouring (For turquoise: ¼ teaspoon Americolor Sky Blue + small dab of Wilton Buttercup Yellow. For red raspberry: ½ tablespoon Americolor red powdered food colouring diluted in drops of water).

Filling:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
cup granulated sugar
½ pint of red raspberries or golden raspberries

Method:
Macaroons
1. Preheat oven to 190ºC/gas mark 5. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
2. Sift almond flour and confectioners’ sugar together 2-3 times. Set aside.
3. Whisk egg whites with a hand mixer until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Reduce speed and gradually add extra fine sugar. Increase speed and beat until stiff peaks form.
4. Sift flour mixture over whites with a fine sieve. Discard any lumps or coarse bits that remain.
5. If colouring the batter, a bit of gel food colouring can be placed on the end of a rubber spatula before you begin folding the mixture. If using the powdered food colouring, mix the powder with a few drops of water before adding it to the batter.
6. Fold together with a rubber spatula using short strokes at first. The batter will be thick and powdery with the almond flour. Use bigger folds once the ingredients are incorporated and the batter loosens. When the batter is ready, it should fall from the spatula in a thick ribbon.
7. Transfer mixture to a piping bag. Pipe 1 or 1 1/2″ rounds on the parchment lined baking sheets. Let piped macarons stand uncovered for 15 minutes to form a crust.
8. Decrease temperature to 170ºC/gas mark 3 just before placing the baking sheet in the oven. Bake pans one at a time for 10 minutes, turning halfway through.
Note: After first batch has baked, oven temp should be increased to 190ºC/gas mark 5 then decreased to 170ºC/gas mark 3 just before the 2nd baking sheet goes in.

Raspberries and cream filling
1. Place cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and whip until fluffy.
2. Pour in heavy whipping cream and beat on medium high speed. Gradually add sugar with the mixture running, until stiff peaks are achieved.
3. Scrape down bowl with a rubber spatula and mix again to make sure all the ingredients are completely incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a plain decorator tip affixed, or use a zip-top bag with the corner snipped.
4. Pipe cream mixture onto one macaron shell, place 3 or 4 raspberries on top of the cream pointed-end-up. Pipe another dot of cream in the center of the raspberries and then place another macaron shell on top.
5. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Recipe from: Sprinkle Bakes

And if you are really trying to impress, why don’t you surprise guests with a delicious cocktail from our list of TWOP Tipples here.

[Imagery and recipes from Bon Appetit, Buzzfeed, Jamie Oliver, Creme de la Crumb, Williams-Sonoma, Spoon Fork Bacon, Craft and Cocktails, Damn DeliciousSainsbury’s Magazine & Drizzle and Dip, Sprinkle Bakes]  

About Natalie Jahangiry

Natalie is half Persian with a Geordie accent. Although small in stature, she makes up for it with a big personality! As a Graphic Designer you will often find Natalie gushing about her passion for all things creative and sharing her ideas with everyone and anyone who will listen. If she’s not decorating her house you will find her cooking up recipes from her foodie family or propped up in a cocktail bar in town.