You may have noticed that I recently turned the big FOUR OH and with that of course there was a fairly smashing celebration. Originally I had not intended on doing anything at home for my big day, nevermind actually catering it myself, but after a few unforseen hassles the plans changed.
Having a birthday party for a milestone birthday should be very special, it should really be one you and your guests remember, so I was pretty torn up about the fact that I could no longer take my guests out for a spoil brunch at a local bistro on a wine estate like I had intended. I was even less impressed with the idea that if I didn’t take anybody out, I would need to do something at home and the last thing I felt like doing was standing in my kitchen for hours making it all and then serving it as well as trying to entertain and keep my guests happy. That wouldn’t leave much time for me to bask in the actual reason for the party. I really wanted to enjoy my birthday rather than feel I worked though it.
Please bear in mind that I am the daughter of a Gourmet Chef and before he died, my Dad has spent the majority of his life as a father teaching me the tricks of the trade, and the entertainer gene was difinitively instilled in me, which leaves me never to do anything at half measures, so if I couldn’t do it properly then I didn’t want to do it at all. The other issue I had with doing it at home was having my three kids (Bless them) around my ankles all day while I was trying to get everything ready by 10:45 in the morning on a Saturday and then trying to enjoy my actual party too.
That all being said, with careful planning and budgeting and a little.. no make that a lot of help on the day from a very hands on member of my family, I ended up with a really great and not too costly brunch menu, and I decided to share it all with you. I wanted to keep it simple yet stylish and modern… I wasn’t looking for mini quiches, pies and brunch casseroles with that whole bring and share 70’s potluck vibe, and so I spent a fair amount of time of Pinterest, you can check out my board here, where I found some really easy to achieve yet extremely attractive looking and tasting ideas.
Because my birthday is in January (midsummer in South Africa) the menu needed to reflect a light summery feel, and so I immediately knew I needed lots of fruit, light pastries, Patê’s and frittata to name a few things. Essentially you could make this menu as cost-effective or expensive as you wish, it really is up to you. I opted to keep the budget as close to under R1000 as possible and the total headcount was eighteen. If you had to look at the pictures or had been there on the day, you probably would not have guessed I could do it for that little and still have it look as good. There was more than enough to go around, and there was a wide variety to select from. Along with the food I served Herbal Teas, Coffee as well as Champagne, Zari Sparkling Grape Juice (Non alcoholic sparkling wine) and Orange Juice so that we could make mimosa’s. I also had Ice cold water with Cucumber slices. If I can give one piece of advice to anybody looking to cater an event on a budget, that is do your research first, look at visuals, get ideas on garnishes or presentation. That old adage “Looks good enough to eat” is true. People eat with their eyes, so even if you were just serving French Toast, but pimped it up with Bacon, syrup and cheese and some fresh mint or lashings of powdered sugar it will be a sight for sore eyes and I am sure everybody will be dying to dig in. So there in lies the secret….and that is that presentation is key.
There is really nothing more left for me to say here, than just to show you the images of the food that were taken on the day. As far as preparation and ingredients go, they were all really simple. I was able to prep pretty much everything in advance the night before. I was very lucky to have two of my guests contribute in the way of the tuna terrine as well as the delicious Rosemary mini muffins with Peach and ham filling too which made it all the more special. I will try to give a brief description of what is going on in each photo, so that you can get an idea of the recipes. I really think this type of entertaining whether it be for a birthday, mothers day or Easter is really the way to go. You can have so much fun on a shoestring or on a lavish budget. I did not get a shot of the whole table at once, but lets just say my eight seater table top was groaning from end to end.
These are just a few pictures of some of the things I made. I also had a lot of fresh fruit, I made mini frittata with baby marrow, cheddar cheese and parsley and also baby spinach and feta. I prepared all of the pastry toppings the night before and the muffins and watermelon were assembled right before the party while I was baking the pastries. I chose to serve everything on wooden cheese boards to give a rustic yet also sophisticated appearance and it also made cleaning up a breeze. You will find boards like this at most craft markets these days. To give the table a feminine appearance I used White Table clothes and a floral table runner with white roses. I was able to use some antique serving knives and cake lifters which also added to the feminine feel.
I hope you enjoyed my post and that it inspires you to plan a brunch for a special occasion too.