Call in the Caterer

I’m not sure I believe in things like fate but I do like the fact that my name is Cate and I’m into catering. Or at least the idea of catering… Is the whole name/profession correlation the universe’s way of trying to tell me something?! Sure, I like cooking but let’s face it, until last weekend I was an unknown quantity when it came to big events. I mean, when have I ever fed people en masse and without supervision?! The answer is never but when a good friend asked me to help her with the food with her fiance’s 30th, I just couldn’t resist the challenge!

Mini caesar salad cups

The brief was fairly straight forward – about 60-70 people, finger food with a loosely mediterranean theme. Easy no?! Ok, maybe not easy but certainly fun. With some good advice from a wise old party planner (otherwise known as my Ma), a little extra catering research and some half decent project management skills (acquired from my illustrious day job as a public servant), I had myself a timeline and about 10 dishes to decide on.

Pumpkin, caramelised onion and blue cheese tart

Next step, trawl through the ridiculous number of cookbooks and food mags I own and put together a bunch of food options. Welllll, if I must! After about a week of reading, we finally settled on:

  • Cheese and anti pasto platters to start
  • Mini chorizo and roast capsicum quiches
  • Pumpkin, caramelised onion and blue cheese tarts (see recipe below)
  • Mini caesar salad cups (see recipe below)
  • Spinach and parsley arancini balls (recipe to come)
  • Chicken saltimbocca skewers (recipe to come)
  • Tomato and basil bruschetta
  • Pan fried halumoi and prosciutto crostini
  • Marinated lamb skewers and a roast vegetable salad (recipe to come)

Salivating yet? Well you should be. Just sayin!

Mini caesar salad cups

Once the food options were chosen, the shopping lists started and boy were they long. I kept having to remind myself there were an awful lot of mouths to feed. I thought spending other people’s money would be easy but it’s not. I almost felt guilty. That said, it was kinda fun buying hoards of cheese for the cheese platters!

While I never felt as organised as I would have liked, I’m beginning to realise that’s just life. I did about 15-20 hours of kitchen prep and although I was knackered, adrenalin is a wonderful thing and thanks to a bunch of eager kitchen hands (aka my besties!), we pulled it off and it was an awful lot of fun. We laughed the entire time and it really reminded me of why I love food and entertaining so much. Everything was ready just before guests arrived (including ourselves, party dresses and all!) and it was smooth sailing all night long! Let’s just not mention the mammoth hangover the next day and other related stories… We’ll save those for another day!

Pumpkin, caramelised onion and blue cheese tart

Pumpkin, caramelised onion and blue cheese tarts (makes 27)

  • 4 onions, sliced into thin rings
  • 1tsbsp olive oil
  • 200gm pumpkin, thinly sliced into 2cm squares
  • 200gm blue vein cheese (goats cheese or fetta are excellent substitutes)
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives (or thyme if you prefer)
  • 3 sheets puff pastry, slightly thawed
  1. Preheat the oven to about 200 degrees celsius.
  2. Over medium heat, caramelise the onions in the olive oil. Continue to stir until softened and almost sticky (it usually takes at least 30 minutes). Set aside to cool.
  3. Cut each puff pastry sheet into nine pieces (it will look like a little like a noughts and crosses puzzle). Within each square score a slightly smaller square to create a border and transfer to a lightly greased tray.
  4. Keeping inside the smaller square, add some of the caramelised onion, a couple of slices of the pumpkin and about 1/2-1 tsp of cheese. Top with some chives (reserving a few to sprinkle fresh).
  5. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and puffed up around the filling. Top with a little more of the remaining cheese and remaining chives and serve warm.

Mini caesar salad cups

Mini casear salad cups (makes 24)

  • 2 loaves white sliced bread
  • Olive oil spray
  • 1/2 medium sweet potato, thinly sliced (trust me!)
  • 4 rashes bacon (short cut), cut into small cubes
  • 1 small cos lettuce, shredded
  • 1 large cooked chicken breast, shredded
  • 1/3 cup casear dressing
  • 1 avocado, cut into small cubes
  • Shaved parmesan
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
  2. Cut off the crusts from the bread and using a rolling pin, roll as flat as possible. Cut rounds out of the bread using a scone cutter and press firmly into a lightly greased patty pan. Spray with a little olive oil and cook for about 10 minutes until the bread is toasted (particularly the bottoms) and they look like little cups. Set aside to cool.
  3. Over medium to high heat, cook the sweet potato until soft and lightly browned. Cut into small cubes and set aside until ready to serve.
  4. In the same pan, add the bacon and cook until golden.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, shredded chicken, bacon, sweet potato and casear dressing. Spoon into the bread cups, add a couple of cubes of avocado and a piece of the shaved parmesan. Serve immediately.