Easy entertaining, a prepare and freeze ahead menu for afternoon tea or cocktail party

Cottage Rolls

As promised here are some of the dishes I served at our Jubilee party last Saturday. As you can see my menu was quite extensive yet I managed to prepare everything myself. Of course I did have to bake and prepare ahead. I'll talk about the savories first.

I have a little clipping from a magazine from years ago entitled Emergency Last-Minute Guest Supply Kit. I only came across it today but luckily I had remembered that bread freezes well, even specialty bread such as my homemade foccacia. The article recommends wrapping French or Italian bread in foil in the freezer then warming in a 180 degree oven for 15 minutes before serving. Works a charm and is great for the loaves you can get at Costco.

Cheese also freezes well as do deli meats and smoked salmon. Thaw in the fridge for several hours or overnight before serving. I served smoked salmon on top of cheese scones with a little cream cheese and a garnish of red pepper and broccoli sprouts. I made the scones a week ahead. Once they were cool I split them in half horizontally, wrapped them in greaseproof paper and froze in a ziploc bag. I'm not sure if the paper was necessary. I thawed them on the bench on the day of the party, inside the bag.

I made bread cases a few days before and stored them in an airtight container in the pantry. Get some thin bread or use a rolling pin to flatten a slice then cut rounds with a cookie cutter. Brush lightly with oil and bake carefully in a hot oven (they brown very quickly!). Make sure they are properly cooled before packing away. I topped these with caramelized onion which had also been frozen. My neighbour gave me a huge 5kg sack of onions so it was a good way to use up a few and they were yum. I blasted the frozen onion in the microwave to thaw, then served it atop the bread rounds at room temperature.

Another favourite old-fashioned thing of mine are Asparagus Rolls. I got some beautiful new season asparagus about a week before the party so I boiled them, drained and patted them dry with a paper towel,  then stored in the fridge in a tupperware until the day of the party. Use thinly sliced bread lightly spread with butter, top with an asparagus seasoned with salt and pepper then roll up and secure with a toothpick and you have an Asparagus Roll!

Chicken sandwiches were also part of my savory menu. Some lovely fresh chicken breasts arrived in my groceries two weeks before the party. I boiled them then used a fork to flake the cooked chicken into smallish pieces. I laid the chicken on greaseproof paper then froze the cooked chicken flat in the freezer, in a ziploc bag. I was careful not to overlay the chicken too much so it was free-flow once it came out. I thawed it in the fridge on the day of the party then combined it with mayo, chopped cucumbers and chopped red peppers for a yummy and colourful sandwich filling. The other sandwiches were egg, very basic, with a little chopped spring onion for colour.

Frozen seafood is a no-brainer. I made cute single-serve shrimp cocktails in some tiny plastic cups I found at the shops. The shrimps were defrosted overnight in the fridge then mixed with cream, tomato sauce, a dash of tabasco and some freshly squeezed lemon juice. I served them on a bed of lettuce with a lemon wedge. These were very popular!

The last savory that I was really happy with was my 'sausage rolls'. This standard New Zealand party fare is hard to make here in Japan where it's virtually impossible to buy sausage meat or even real sausages. I found a great recipe that uses cottage cheese as the base - unbelievably they actually come out tasting like real meat was used!. Check out the recipe here at Taste.com.au. (I used almonds instead of pecans since that's what I had). I made them a day or two before, stored them in airtight container in the fridge then reheated in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

I think that's all! Stuffed eggs were also planned but I didn't get around to serving those until later that night for our dinner.


  1. Yum, yum, yum. Thanks for all the great hints. Gosh, I wish we lived closer.....

  2. I wish you did too Jo! stay tuned for my sweets to come!! You should come up to Osaka one day.


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