I have invited friends over for the weekend and will be feeding ten people four courses and no stress whatsoever. I want to be available to meet and greet, have a drink, chat and quick catch-up before I sit them down thirty minutes after the last ones arrive.
Here is my menu – the majority of which can be prepared in advance then either frozen, popped into a tin or reheated briefly just before serving.
You have probably got your own favourites for entertaining but here is my menu for the weekend and I’ll post my tips for success along with the recipes.
Dark Rye dinner rolls (optional)
Melon balls served in a cocktail glass with a shot of chilled Muscat.
Muscat is a sweet wine often drunk as an aperitif in the South West of France. When melons are in season in the summer a half melon is often served with the seeds scooped out, still with the skin on but then the hollow filled with this delicious wine. My version is a little more pleasing to the eye but the taste is the same. Use different melons to give colour and interest – a mint leaf as a garnish just finishes it off perfectly.
Maple glazed ham served with a crab apple sauce
Braised red cabbage with Juniper
The whole of the main course is made in advance apart from 10 minutes for the asparagus.
A selection of English cheeses served with my Rye and Fennel Thins
Buy biscuits for cheese if you prefer but mine are incredibly tasty, perfect with cheese and are made days in advance.
Pina Colada Cocktail Dessert served with passion fruit ice cream
Open fruit tarts served with passion fruit ice cream
When entertaining large numbers it is often easier to present a chilled dessert or at least one served cold or at room temperature. I included rice pudding which was served hot but again, this had been made in advance and simply microwaved. All detail is in the timetable.
My friends are over on Sunday so work begins the Wednesday before.
Wednesday: Make the Passion fruit no churn ice cream – pop into the freezer
Mix the Crab Apple Sauce – cover and store in the fridge
Thursday: Bake the Rye and Fennel Thins – store in an airtight tin
Soak the ham for 24 hours in cold water – refresh the water once
Make the crème patissiere for the open fruit tarts – store in the fridge
Friday: Make pastry for fruit tarts, blind bake and store pastry shells in an airtight tin.
Make the bases for the Pina Colada desserts and store in the fridge
Slow roast the ham through the night – Friday into Saturday (14 hours)
Saturday: Prepare and cook to Stage 1 the Pommes Boulangere
Complete the Pina Colada Desserts apart from final decoration
Prepare and cook Braised Red Cabbage
Make Rice Pudding
Using a melon baller – cut out sufficient balls, place in bowls and chill.
Set the table
Sunday Meal to be served at 1.30pm – guests arrive at 1 pm
Prep potatoes for Stage 2 cooking – 15 minutes
Trim and Glaze the cooked ham for its final roast – 15 minutes
Prep asparagus spears for steaming (cutting off woody stem) – 5 mins
Fill and decorate fruit tarts – 20 mins – leave in a cool place (not fridge)
Final decoration for Pina Colada desserts – 5 mins (leave in fridge)
Transfer rice pudding into non metallic bowl for reheating – 2 mins
Make bread (optional)
Assemble the melon starter into cocktail glasses with Muscat shot – chill
Reheat red cabbage for 1-2 hours in a low oven or slow cooker (100 degrees)
Get yourself “done-up”
Prepare drinks, make sure you have ice, check the dining table, preheat oven
12.15 – Roast ham for 45 minutes then cover and keep warm
Gently reheat Crab apple sauce – to be served at room temperature
12.45 – Pop your starter onto the table
1.00 – Friends arrive – meet and greet – serve drinks etc
1.30 – As everyone is finding their seat, pop the potatoes in oven – 20mins
1.50 – Clear away starter, cook asparagus 10 mins, take out potatoes
2.00 – Either serve at the table or plate up in the kitchen
– Carved ham, sauce, potatoes, red cabbage, asparagus
Times not important now. If there is lots of chatter – stay with the party. Clear away everything from the main course and then why not serve cheese next ?
This half hour or so cheese course will offer the time for your passion fruit ice cream to ripen in the fridge. Take it from the freezer as the cheese is taken through and pop into the fridge – the consistency will then be perfect with your desserts.
Dessert is easy and if anyone should choose the rice pudding, reheat in the microwave for 2-3 minutes stirring regularly and serve with a little ramekin of fresh berries.
Bon appetit !!!!
< Back to Blog