Last night I hosted my first proper food event – a ‘Canapés & Craft Networking Evening’ with my Creative & Entrepreneurial Women’s networking group. I created a variety of Thai style nibbles, while my co-host Katy Fattuhi, led a card making workshop.
The evening kicked off at 7.30pm with glasses of fizz in the garden, and everyone mingling. I was predictably slightly behind with my timings but thankfully no one noticed -or at least they were too polite to mention!
I chose a Thai theme as I wanted to showcase some of the sauces I’ve been developing, so my menu for the night was:
- Homemade spicy peanuts
- Thai sweetcorn fritters and homemade sweet chilli sauce
- Curry puffs
- Moo ping (barbecued pork skewers marinated in oyster sauce, garlic and coriander) with nam jim jaew (fish sauce, tamarind, chilli, lime, sugar)
- Sweet soy tofu with summer roll dipping sauce (tamarind, sweet soy)
The peanuts had been almost a throwaway thought – ‘oh and I’ll do some peanuts instead of the usual Kettle Chips’ – but they ended up being a real labour of love. Every test batch I did came out burnt and bitter – but the more it failed, the more I refused to give in – much to my husband’s dismay (‘just buy the damn crisps!’).
Eventually, after several oven hours (look away from the Smart meter) and my bodyweight eaten in waste nuts, I created the perfect batch. Crisis averted.
When you’re cooking for a large number, or even a smallish number come to that (there were only 11 of us), it’s easy to underestimate just how long things will take. Those sweetcorn fritters only take a few minutes to fry. But not when you’re making 35 of them!
With one vegan in attendance, I had to make some adjustments. I used the same mixture for hers, minus the egg, but they didn’t hold together as well and burnt more easily, so I went through a few batches before getting those right. Thankfully, both versions were scoffed and I even have a few (burnt) ones left over for dinner. Win.
Luckily my husband, G, was on hand to barbecue the pork, so I could concentrate on the very tricky task of drinking prosecco and hosting (not to be underestimated).
The tofu, which had been fried until crispy then coated in a sweet sticky soy sauce, was the vegan option, but a surprise success with the rest of the group as well. As I always say – it’s all about the sauce.
After feasting, we came back into the house for the card making. Katy, who is an artist, mentor, and usually runs day time workshops , gently guided the group and brought out each person’s inner creativity. With a raft of materials available, everyone got stuck in. Creative juices flowed just as the Prosecco had, and lively chat continued round the table.
By 11.30pm the last of the guests left and we crawled into bed at midnight, ready for our alarm (aka 2 yr old Gracie) to ring at 5.45am. A fun evening, with lots of laughter, chat and connections made. Definitely worth the heavy head and tired eyes this morning!
I will admit that there was a lot of prep involved (two solid days in fact), but I absolutely loved being immersed in Thai food. I’ve got a lot to learn but the good news is I know I’m on the right path.