Lent is over, time to dig in. Easter is one of my favourite holidays because I get to have a four-day weekend, and it is not as commercialised as Christmas. Do you have a tradition of hosting Easter parties every year? Or your family has a holiday rotation schedule, and it’s your turn to host during Easter. Or are you newly married, and you want to host your first party as a couple. Well I have some fresh ideas that will jazz up your Easter party. Something different that will get your friends and family talking for weeks, and coming to you for tips.
Are you tired of Jollof rice (sacrilegious, I’m running for cover) and fried meat/chicken, the staple of almost all 9ja parties? Going for a party, is not just about meting your friends and family, and hanging out. Lets be honest, it’s also about the food. Lol. You hear people singing the praises of party Jollof rice. I mean, Jollof rice, is different from party Jollof rice in the Nigerian dictionary. So why don’t you give your guests what they secretly want, something they probably don’t already make in their homes.
Fancy word for “small chops”. Usually we serve an assortment of puff puff, samosa, spring rolls and bite sized suya grilled chicken. Can I suggest a modification? A Skewer/Kebab platter
Make this with meat, fish interspersed with processed meat, vegetables and/or fruit i.e. onions, bell peppers, cucumber, pineapple, aubergine, papaya, berries, squash, ham, grapes, bacon, chorizo, pepperoni etc. Your platter can comprise:
1. Smoked Turkey
3. A medley of seafood i.e. shrimp, scallop, squid, octopus
5. Vegetarian option
7. Ah yes, you want something familiar. Puff Puff 2.0? This is just not serving regular puff puff, but puff puff reloaded i.e. spicy, savoury, or less sweet and serve with a multitude of dips e.g. chocolate dips, spicy tomato salsa, lemon dip. Puff puff is basically fried dough, so dips are great with it. Or you could roll it in cinnamon and sugar straight from the oil.
Dooney’s Kitchen Prep tips: Make your puff puff dough first thing in the morning. It needs 3 – 4hours to rise. For your skewers, chop your ingredients and make a big batch of marinade the night (or two) before. Marinade the vegetables and meat separately, and store in freezer bags or sealed plastic bowls. Chop the fruit the night before and coat with lemon/lime juice. Also soak your wooden skewers in water the night before, so they don’t burn during grilling. The simplicity of skewers is that you can grill them at once. Of course, fish and seafood will cook quicker, so you take them off the grill/oven first.
Peppersoup, as delicious as it is, we all make it in our homes. Instead of peppersoup, why don’t you try making a Hot spicy mussel soup (if you can’t find mussels use shrimp) or Prawn Bisque (you can leave out cream, and use thickener substitutes). Serve with slightly toasted slices of thick bread
Oh yes, no one host parties like we do, so of course alcohol is always free and flowing. How about making a cocktail? Come on, not a Martini or a Mojito. Something bright and festive like a Tangerine/Clementine cocktail (garnish with sliced bits of fruit and a green herb like parsley or coriander.) Or a Sangria, or a Whiskey and Port fizz. Dooney’s Kitchen Prep tips: As you are shopping for alcohol for the party, let the display on the aisles guide you.
For the kids, rather than pile them with sugary drinks or juice made from concentrates, why don’t you try something healthy like Fruit smoothies or Punch? This can also work for your friends who don’t drink alcohol. Dooney’s Kitchen Prep tips: All you need is a blender. You can make smoothies with different kinds of fruit, or you could add some milk and a few drops of vanilla. You may need to add a little sugar syrup, but it will still be healthier than coke. Chop your fruit first thing in the morning, sprinkle lemon juice on top and simply refrigerate. Make your smoothies in batches, just before you run out.
Dooney’s Kitchen Hosting tips: Rather than serve kids cookies and chocolates, serve platters of healthy nuts and grilled meat (take out the skewers please) instead. As long as they can pick food up and run around, kids are very easy to please. Children don’t have to be chaotic and running around under your feet. Plan for their arrival. Lay out toys, books, entertaining videos, and try to assign a dedicated “baby sitter”. I’m sure you can blackmail your niece or something. You didn’t hear it from me. Lol
Instead of Jollof rice, can I suggest serving a Pasta dish instead? Simple examples like Chicken Pasta Stir-fry, Linguine Vongole (in English pasta with clams or mussels), Spaghetti and seafood in white wine sauce, Spaghetti with meatballs or Bolognese sauce. Pasta is a blank canvas like rice; you can do anything you want with it.
If you must serve rice, in case the in-laws are coming, and you really don’t want to offend Aunty Toyin, or Mummy Bode with “catering practical” food. Why don’t you try Jambalaya? You don’t have to tell them its Jambalaya (I can imagine them saying Jamba wetin). Or you could prepare Paella or King Prawn Fried rice
Of course, no 9ja party is complete without one of our local soups and a starchy addition. In the spirit of something different, can you try Egusi with crab and smoked seafood, instead of meat and orisirisi (assorted meat)? Get your guests digging in with their hands into delicious succulent whole crab, smoked prawn and smoked fish. To further impress them, make Pounded Yam in a food processor. Believe me, this is easier than turning over a big pot of poundo flour, and you are also going to be serving the real thing. Just watch as the men ooh and aaah, and tell their wives the next stop on the way home, is the department store to pick up a food processor (true story). This was my party trick for ages.
If you’ve got Ibadan in-laws or friends you want to impress, Gbegiri and Ewedu served with Amala. Dooney’s Kitchen Prep tips: Making gbegiri is a whole lot of work. You do NOT want to start from scratch on the day of your party, with everything else you have to do. So make your beans extract days before and freeze it. Roughly blend your ewedu with okra and freeze it too
Salads 9ja style is usually a hectic affair. All that chopping and cutting for hours, which leaves leaving your kitchen a mess of scattered bits of vegetables and bowls and bowls of the stuff. Can you buy pre-packed salad? Dooney’s Kitchen Tips: If you want to make Salad from scratch, I would advise;
1. Cut down on the number of ingredients.
2. Use ingredients that you don’t have to dice finely so you can make your salad quicker
3. Instead of a traditional 9ja chopped salad, make salad with whole leafy vegetables, and toss in extras such as olives, chopped citrus fruit, avocado, berries, pine nuts, cashew nuts, croutons, blocks of cheese, even meat (that’s the carnivore in me talking) etc. Hey you can make a Greek salad, or a Couscous salad, or Caesars salad, Chicken noodle salad, Pasta salad. The list is endless.
3. Make your own salad dressing. You don’t have to refer by default to the bottle of Salad cream or mayonnaise. Make a simple Vinaigrette with olive oil, vinegar, salt, honey, a dash of lemon juice, garlic and herbs
Dessert is not common in Nigerian cuisine probably because by the time you are done with the main meal, you are halfway to being comatose. If you want to serve dessert, may I suggest Crepes? Ehn, you know pancake? Good. Leave those French people and their fancy words. Lol. One of my favourite ways of making Crepes is Crepe Suzette. Dooney’s Kitchen Prep tips: Please don’t slave over making pancake batter manually. Add all your ingredients into a blender, and mix. It takes all of 2 minutes.
Dooney’s Kitchen Hosting tips: If you have an open plan kitchen, why don’t you put on a show for your guests? Flambé the Suzette sauce. It is quite entertaining. If you haven’t done this before, I will suggest you practice beforehand so you don’t end up with an incident that will result in a trip to the emergency room (we don’t want that).
Or you could also serve Caramel Coffee Liqueur Croissant pudding. You could use Baguette, Brioche or even Agege bread. As long as the bread is stale (2days old). If you don’t have coffee liqueur, brandy, rum or whiskey will do.
On a final note, my idea of hosting means you should also enjoy your party, and not spend all the time stuck in the kitchen looking flustered. A great host is one who not only serves great food, but also is present to mingle with guests. So, get out the old pen and paper and come up with a game plan. Plan your menu, find out what you already have at home, and make a shopping list. Itemise what you will prepare in advance, if you need any kitchen equipment, check if it’s working. Organise your kitchen tasks e.g. clearing up and doing dishes. If you are hosting a large party, check out your stock of dishes and cutlery. Finally, plan to ENJOY your party.
So, I hope I’ve given you some interesting ideas for your Easter party, please do let me know how it goes. My contact info can be found on the left hand corner of the site, if you have any questions. Happy Easter folks!!!
To my new readers. A very big welcome to Dooney’s Kitchen