Margaret Fulton
27 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
Geoff Lung

Party food and drinks

For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed the air of excitement that precedes a party. I have never outgrown this, and no matter how small or how grand the occasion, I get a lot of pleasure planning the food and entertainment for my guests.

A party should promise good fun, good company and good food. A light heart takes care of the fun, good friends take care of the company and a few good recipes take care of the food.

The buffet party

Buffet parties are an ideal way of entertaining informally, as more guests can be catered for than at a sit-down dinner.


Hot or cold?

If serving hot, leave the baked glazed ham in the turned off oven for 30 minutes. If serving cold, cool and store in the refrigerator overnight. Place the ham on a stand, or a large serving platter, and garnish if liked with watercress or parsley.


The essential requirement is a very sharp knife, preferably with a long thin blade. The easiest way to carve a ham is to cut a wedge out first, about two-thirds along the leg, and carve slices each side. This allows a good distribution of lean and fat, and makes manageable slices. Cold ham is cut in thin slices, but a hot ham may be cut into thicker slices. Before carving, wrap a sheet of foil around the knuckle. The carver may cover this with a clean napkin, and hold the ham without getting greasy.

How many people will it serve?

3 kg serves 10–14

4 kg serves 12–16

5 kg serves 15–20

6 kg serves 18–22

7 kg serves 20–25

Half hams: If a whole leg of ham is too big for your needs, look to the half hams. These are treated as for baked glazed ham, but reduce the baking time accordingly. A half ham will bake through in approximately 1 hour, basting several times, then for a further 30 minutes for glazing.

Storing leftover ham

Cover with a clean tea towel or light cheesecloth bag which has been dipped in a solution of approximately 2 cups water with 1 tablespoon vinegar, and then squeezed out. Replace the tea towel about every 3 days with a fresh one to keep the ham moist and fresh.


A large big bowl of boiled new potatoes, tossed in butter, with chopped parsley and a grinding of pepper, is always welcome. Serve the potatoes warm. Crusty bread, a large green salad and a choice of mustards and spiced fruits are the main essentials.

The cocktail party

Everyone loves the finger food and glamorous drinks at a cocktail party. It’s a perfect way to entertain friends during the festive season. Take my advice though; decide on one cocktail and go with that. You’ll be kept very busy if you have to mix up different kinds at once.

Try to introduce one or two other guests to the cocktail recipe so they can help out too. Have plenty of food to nibble on and several alternatives to drink, such as juice, mineral water, champagne and beer, for the non-cocktail drinkers.

Appetizers and canapés

Canapés are small and in varying shapes, with toppings that have a good flavour and look pretty. Breads like pumpernickel and sliced baguette make good canapé bases, which must be firm enough to hold the topping. Soft white sandwich bread needs first to be cut into rounds or squares and fried or toasted to make bases for canapés.

Small crisp crackers may also be used as bases. Smoked salmon and trout, sliced roast beef, salami, seafood, and smoked chicken or ham make ideal toppings, and should be seasoned and garnished to make each canapé distinctive.

Simple canapés

Angels on horseback: Sprinkle oysters with lemon juice. Cut lean, rindless rashers of streaky bacon in halves, wrap each one around an oyster, fastening with a small toothpick. Grill, until lightly browned, and serve hot.

Stuffed eggs: Hard-boil 4 eggs, cut in halves and remove yolks. Sieve yolks, and mix to a paste with a little cream or mayonnaise. Season with Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Spoon or pipe the mixture into whites, and garnish the tops with strips of red capsicum or a little caviar.

Avocado canapés: Mash avocado pulp, season with salt, pepper, lemon juice and a dash of Tabasco. Chill, covered, until ready to serve. Dollop on to canapé bases. Garnish with a strip of red capsicum or a little finely chopped fresh coriander.

Salmon canapés: Arrange thinly sliced smoked salmon on canapé bases. Garnish with a dab of sour cream, capers and a tiny piece of lemon or snipped dill.

Anchovy canapés: Mash 1 can of drained anchovy fillets. Stir in a little oil, a few drops of lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Spread on rounds of bread and heat under the griller.

… and a little more elaborate:

Goat cheese, avocado and smoked salmon: Mash 1 small round of soft goat cheese in a bowl and lightly fold through 1 diced avocado, a few slices of diced smoked salmon, freshly ground pepper and a squeeze of lime or lemon juice. Slice a small baguette into 1 cm slices, and just before serving, pile a little of the goat cheese mixture on to each.

Tapenade-stuffed tomatoes: You can buy a black olive spread or tapenade, but it is easy to make yourself. Cut the tops off about 32 tiny tomatoes, leaving the stem end intact. Scoop out the pulp carefully and fill the tomatoes with the tapenade. Finish each with parsley, arrange on a serving platter.

Sun-dried tomato: Place 1 red capsicum over a gas flame or under the grill to blister the skin. Peel and remove the seeds. Put the capsicum together with 8–10 sun-dried tomatoes, about 10 basil leaves and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a food processor. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper then process. Spoon on fried bread canapé bases (see following) and top each with a small piece of anchovy fillet.

Roast beef: Cut 1–2 small baguettes into 1 cm slices. Cut roasted rare beef fillet into thin slices. Spread each bread slice with a little butter or cooled béarnaise sauce, and top with a few watercress or rocket leaves and a slice of beef fillet. Top each with a dab of béarnaise sauce, or horseradish mixed with mayonnaise or sour cream, and a good grinding of pepper. Arrange on a serving platter, sprinkle with snipped chives.

Fried bread for canapé bases: Cut sliced bread into small square or round shapes. Heat enough oil, or a mixture of half butter and half oil, to cover the bottom of a frying pan, and fry the bread until delicately golden on one side. Turn to fry the other side. Drain on paper towels. Use immediately, or cool and store in an airtight container, until required. Reheat in a 180°C oven, until hot and crisp, before using. Some fillings are placed straight on to cooled canapé bases, while others require the base to be topped with mayonnaise or sour cream to help hold the topping.

Other party drinks

Don’t forget the wine coolers and punches that give parties a special zing!

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