Kitchen & Pantry

Party Food Need Not Be Expensive: An Illustration

Party Food Need Not Be Expensive: An Illustration |

When entertaining, it is usual for the host or hostess to choose dishes that impress. And “impressive” is commonly associated with expensive ingredients or dishes that are complicated to cook, or both. I don’t subscribe to any of those beliefs.

Entertaining is about the company primarily and the food is simply an accessory to make the company even more enjoyable. And when it comes to choosing the food, sometimes, less is more. Take burgers, for instance. Serving burgers for a sit down lunch may not sound like a sophisticated plan but, with the right accessories, burgers on a platter can be an impressive dish especially for an al fresco meal.

It all starts with good burgers, of course. None of those ready-made patties that you can pick up from the frozen section of the supermarket. I’m talking about homemade burgers that you seasoned with your personal formula (click here for lots of burger ideas), prepared the smart way and grilled to perfection. And then, the burgers are served with accessories that transform them into a much less predictable dish.

What accessories? Slices of onions, tomatoes, cucumber or pickles make burgers too much of a fast food fare. So, instead of all that, a good sauce to top the patties with. Nothing that comes out of a bottle or jar, mind you, but something that doesn’t taste anything like it came out of a jar or bottle. Like Salisbury steak? Well, yes, the idea is in the right direction but the brown sauce is more “everyday” than party-like. Party burgers deserve a party sauce. Party sauce? Yep, something like the cheese dip with roasted capsicum, garlic and scallions that could also be a sandwich spread and which I later discovered was also perfect for smothering burgers with. Just sauté mushrooms in butter, add cream, the cheese sauce, heat gently then pour over the burgers.

Party food need not be expensive, illustrated

And then the little extras that add color and texture. Greens, naturally, lots of greens. Make a generous bed of crisp lettuce to nestle the burgers before smothering them with the creamy sauce. And, on the side, homemade potato chips. Sprinkle everything with chopped fresh greens, serve with a platter of bread — home baked pan de sal is a good choice — and tall glasses of cold drinks. Not powdered iced tea, please, but something more unusual like agua fresca. Then, enjoy the food, the drinks and the compliments which you’re bound to get lots of.

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