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How to organise a royal wedding street party

What better reason could there be to share some grub and have a good old fashioned knees up with your neighbours but for the royal wedding? Whether you’re into the royals or not, the point is that we’ve got an extra bank holiday to fill, so let’s take to the streets… as residents in Wales are keenly doing, though others less so.

Selection of street party food

 

Not only do street parties give us the chance to sample our neighbours' cooking, they strengthen community spirit and promote neighbourly ties. There are some useful resources out there if you’ve never done anything like this before – from this general guide to tips to ensure your party is as eco-friendly as it can be.

Once you’ve got clearance from the council and rounded up the trestle tables, it’s time to turn your attention to the food. If the weather’s OK you could plump for a barbecue – always good for feeding a crowd. Or if you’re feeling ambitious, what about a hog roast?

Chef Merrillees Parker who runs the catering company Pink has the lowdown on how to scale up your favourite recipes for this kind of event. "For anything long and slow – say curries or stews  – simply multiply up your recipe. Or with something like a Caesar salad, the amount of chicken and dressing per person stays the same.

"Catering is all about organisation and space. You’ll need a big cool box to extend your fridge. If you need lots of cool boxes for your party, get everyone to chip in to buy a few. Use a plastic bin with a bin liner and bags of ice to keep drinks cool, saving the fridge for the food. I think every family should have a large pot or stockpot to serve about 20 people. Beg, steel or borrow the neighbours' pots."

Union Jack fondant fancies

Union Jack fondant fancies

Merrillees suggests a classic British afternoon tea theme for your parties – with easily portable things like cupcakes, Scotch eggs, sausage rolls, flapjakes, tray bakes and fridge cakes. “Bake your cakes beforehand and ice them on the day. Remember meringues keep for three days and keep in mind that fruit cakes or dense carrot cakes will last nearly a week in air-tight containers. Everything you do takes more time for say 50 people rather than five. If there's a job you can do beforehand, don’t do it on the day. You just want to be tweaking - chopping herbs, icing, sprinkling, decorating, not the bulk of the work. It's possible to do it all on the day, but you'll enjoy yourself more if you're organised.”

Lots of desserts freeze brilliantly, so you can get ahead of yourself that way – make lemon posset or chocolate mousse beforehand. A good rule of thumb is to avoid freezing anything with chunks of fruit, which will have high water content. Simple sponge cakes freeze well – just ice them them beforehand.

Sandwiches and fairy cakes for a street party

 

Also sandwiches are not as easy as you'd think. Merrillees says, “They can dry out so easily. When cutting don't stack them more than two sandwiches high and, once filled, place them on separate plastic trays covered with a clean tea towel/unused jay cloth. Keep them covered until serving. Use moist fillings such as smoked salmon and cream cheese or egg mayo (not slices of cheddar or ham), if you're making them in advance. Cut them into strips at the last minute."

Coronation prawn vol au vents

Coronation prawn vol-au-vents

Francis O'Hagan from catering company Jackson Gilmour says, "Menu choice is paramount. You need to cover a broad range of tastes so keep it simple. Chicken is a cheaper meat, is easy to cook and is versatile for flavouring. Indeed that's why coronation chicken was invented.” Merrillees adds, “Communication is so important. If you're hosting, speak to everyone and check what they want to make. Go back if more than one person wants to make the same thing. I'm far too much of a control freak for pot-luck suppers".

The safest option is to go for something that you’ve made before, but if, like me, you like to give something new a go when you’re cooking for friends, Francis says, “Cold salads are a good way to go - it gives you licence to experiment but without destroying the overall effect if things don't go to plan”.


Get more inspiration with our special street party recipe collections. Are you planning on gathering your neighbours together for the royal wedding or another event this summer? Tell us what you’re doing and share any tips for making it go as smoothly as possible.

Ramona Andrews is the host of the BBC Food Q&A blog and messageboard.

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