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Cooking for a crowd

Category: entertainment

Whether you are planning a dinner or luncheon affair, these delicious party ideas will liven up your table and get your guests coming back for seconds and thirds.

The Main Course

If you're cooking for a crowd, one of the easiest ways to keep the preparations stress free is to keep the main course as simple as possible. Cooking one large joint of meat or a whole fish is a lot easier to deal with than lots of smaller pieces, and looks divine when served whole on the table.

Whole Baked Fish with Lemon and Fennel

Taking a 2-3 kilo whole fish like salmon or snapper that has been gutted and scaled, fill the empty stomach cavity with thin slices of lemon and fennel root.

Place the fish on a large piece of baking paper layered on top of a large piece of foil. Taking another sliced lemon and 8-10 more slices of fennel lay the slices over top of the fish and season well with salt and pepper.

Wrap the fish like a package, enclosing it completely and place in an oven set at 180 C for 20-25 minutes until the flesh is just cooked through.

Glazed Ham with Marmalade

Make a simple glaze for a leg of ham by gently melting 6 tablespoons of marmalade in a pot over a low heat.

Prepare the ham for glazing by removing the rind from the ham to expose the fat layer. Score the fat in a diamond pattern with a sharp knife.

Brush the warm marmalade over the exposed fat of the ham and bake in an oven set at 190 C for 45 minutes, basting the ham regularly with the juices that seep into the roasting dish.

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Rosemary and Garlic

Make a paste of rosemary and garlic by blending together the leaves of 3 stalks of rosemary, 8 cloves of garlic and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a food processor.

Taking a leg of lamb that weighs about 2 kilos, make cuts over the leg that are about 5mm deep into the flesh. Rub the rosemary and garlic mixture over the leg ensuring it seeps into the incisions.  Season the leg well with salt and pepper and place in a roasting tray and then into an oven set at 200C. Roast for 90 minutes, basting the lamb frequently.

Standing Rib Roast with Port Wine and Mushroom Gravy

Taking a 1 ½ to 2 kilo standing rib roast, rub all over with a little olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Preheat an oven to 200 C and roast the meat for up to 90 minutes.

Remove the meat from the roasting tray and wrap loosely in foil. Pour 1 litre of beef stock and ½ cup of port wine into the roasting tray and place the roasting tray directly on to the stove top and heat the liquid until it bubbles and reduce the liquid down by two thirds.

In a separate frying pan, saute 1 cup of sliced mushrooms in a dash of olive oil. Add the mushrooms to the roasting tray along with 2 tablespoons of butter. Season the gravy with salt and pepper and serve in a gravy boat next to the roast.

Side Dishes

Scallop Potatoes

Thinly slice 1 kilo of desiree potatoes and layer in a baking dish. Season 300 mls of cream well with salt and pepper and pour over the potatoes.

Cook the potatoes in an oven set at 200C for 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are tender and cooked through and the top of the potatoes are golden.

Fig and balsamic salad

Create a simple side salad by taking a bag of mixed lettuce leaves and placing in a salad bowl. Cut 6 fresh figs into quarters and mix through the leaves. Using a balsamic glaze that you can find in the vinegar aisle of your supermarket, drizzle some of the glaze over the salad and serve immediately.

Green beans with a ginger dressing

Make the ginger dressing by placing 1 medium sized peeled onion in a food processor along with ½ cup of olive oil, ⅓ cup rice wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons of minced ginger, 1 tablespoon minced garlic and 1 tablespoon of caster sugar. Process the ingredients until very well combined.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Top and tail 1 kilo of fresh green beans and blanch in a large pot of boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain the beans and pour over  ½ the ginger dressing. Serve immediately.

Roasted pumpkin with pine nuts

Wash the outside of a medium sized pumpkin to remove any dirt and slice the pumpkin into seedless wedges the size of half a sandwich. Heat the oven to 190 C with a roasting tray inserted to heat up also.

Place the pumpkin, skin on, into a large bowl and pour over ⅓ cup of olive oil and mix the pumpkin to cover well  with the oil. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over a bunch of roughly chopped sage leaves.

Roast in the oven for 30-45 minutes until golden. Sprinkle with ¼ cup of pine nuts before serving.

Party Sweets

Pavlova with rhubarb and Cream

Prepare the rhubarb by peeling 1 bunch with a small knife. Slice into 10 cm strips and place in a roasting dish with ¾ cup of brown sugar and ⅓ cup of water. Roast in an oven set at 180 C for 20-30 minutes until tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Using a good quality pre packaged pavlova, place on a serving plate and cover the middle part of the pavlova with sweetened whip cream. Flatten the cream a little and top with the roasted rhubarb and some of the delicious rhubarb juice.  Sprinkle with a few chopped pistachios to serve.

Berry shortcakes

Make a berry compote by heating 500 grams of frozen mixed berries with ¾ cup of brown sugar until the berries just begin to bubble. Remove from the heat and cool.

Whip a 300 ml bottle of cream with 4 tablespoons of icing sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla extract until stiff and set aside.

Using a packet or two of good quality shortbread cookies, place one cookie on a plate and spoon over some of the berries. Add a dollop of cream and top with another shortbread. Dust the top with a little icing sugar and serve.

Apricot Parfait

Into a small bowl place ½ cup of a good quality tart apricot jam or preserve. Add 1 tablespoon of water and stir the preserves well to thin down slightly. Whip 150 mls of cream with 2 tablespoons of icing sugar until stiff and set aside.

To assemble the parfaits, layer the apricot preserves with broken shortbread biscuites, cream and a large spoon of a vanilla pudding in decorative glasses. Finish with the apricot preserve and serve immediately.

Strawberry cream cake

Using a good quality sponge cake, slice horizontally into three even rounds. Whip a 300 ml bottle of cream with 4 tablespoons of icing sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla extract until stiff and set aside.

Slice the tops off 3 punnets of fresh strawberries and cut into quarters. Place ½ the strawberries into a bowl and mash roughly with 5 tablespoons of icing sugar and a splash of strawberry liqueur.

Place the bottom slice of the sponge on a serving plate and top with half of the cream and ½ the berries. Add the second layer of sponge and press down lightly. Top with the remaining cream and berries, inter mingling the mashed berries with the whole pieces.

Finish the cake with the final layer of sponge and dust with icing sugar to serve.

Delicious Mocktail

Chocolate martini using leftover Easter Eggs

Break a medium sized chocolate Easter egg into small pieces and melt ¾ of the egg in a microwave on low power. Stir the chocolate until smooth.

Place the remaining chocolate pieces into the bottom of a martini glass. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice  and add 60 mls of coconut cream, 30 mls of lemonade and the melted chocolate. Shake and strain into the martini glass and serve. 

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