How to cater for large groups

Catering for large groups can be scary, whether it’s your student society evening meeting or a weekend retreat, our resource is here to offer you simple tasty recipes to get you started. All of the recipes can be used to feed more people by simply multiplying the ingredients.

Breakfasts

Cereal Party

If you’re leading a retreat with your group, why not have a cereal party? It’s a great way to get everyone to bring something fun for breakfast and you can have a prize for the most exciting cereal.

Scrambled Eggs (Serves 2)

Ingredients

2 eggs

Salt

Pepper

Milk (optional)

Instructions

Beat 2 eggs with a splash of milk (milk optional). Season with salt and pepper. Melt a knob of butter in a pan. Add the egg mixture and stir. Cook until it’s fluffy.

Eggy Bread (Serves 2)

2 eggs

Salt

Pepper

Sliced bread

Beat 2 eggs with salt and pepper. Soak bread in egg mixture for a few minutes. Fry in a hot pan until brown, turning over to cook both sides. 

Lunches

Carrot, coriander and lentil soup (Serves 12)

Ingredients

4 large onions

1 kilo carrots

800g red lentils

2 vegetable stock cubes 

3 cloves of garlic

1 lemon

Instructions

Peel and chop the onion and garlic. Fry off the onions, plus the garlic, until soft in a large saucepan.  Add about a kilo of finely chopped carrots and sweat until soft.  Meanwhile cook 750g-1Kg of red lentils in a pan of water, add to the pan of carrots along with the vegetable stock cubes.  Cut the whole lemon in half and add one or both halves to pan.  Simmer until tastes good, rescue remains of lemon and serve. Keep stirring to ensure the lentils don’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.

Leek and Potato Soup (Serves 6-8) www.jamieoliver.com

Ingredients

2 carrots

2 sticks of celery

2 medium onions

400 g leeks

2 cloves of garlic

400g potatos

Olive oil

2 vegetable stock cubes

Salt

Pepper

Instructions

Peel and roughly slice the carrots. Slice the celery. Peel and roughly chop the onions. Ct the ends off the leeks, quarter them lengthways, wash them under running water and cut them into 1cm slices. Peel and slice the garlic.

Place a large pan on a high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add all your chopped and sliced ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon. Cook for around 10 minutes with the lid askew, until the carrots have softened, but are still holding their shape, and the onion and leeks are slightly golden.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1cm dice. Put the stock cubes into a jug or pan and pour in 1.8 litres of boiling water from the ketter. Stir until the cubes are dissolved, then add to the vegetables. Add your potatoes. Give the soup a good stir and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on.

Remove the pan from the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Serve like this or pulse until smooth using a hand blender or liquidizer.

Dinners

Veggie Lasagne (serves 4) www.bbcgoodfood.com

Ingredients

2 tbsp oil

1 onion sliced

1 garlic clover sliced

1 aubergine, cut into chunks

1 red pepper

8 plum tomatoes halved

350ml passata

200g ready-cooked lasagne sheets

6 tbsp half-fat crème fraîche

2 tbsp grated parmesan (or vegetarian alternative)

Instructions

Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Toss oil and vegetables together and roast in a large, shallow tin for 35 mins until lightly charred. Spoon a layer of roasted veg over the bottom of a medium-size baking dish

Pour over some passata and cover with a layer of lasagne sheets. Repeat layers to use up all the roasted veg and passata, finishing with a layer of lasagne. Use a spoon to dollop over the crème fraîche, then sprinkle with the Parmesan. Return to the oven for 25 mins, until the lasagne is heated through and the top is golden and bubbling.

Carrot, Cauliflower and Lentil Curry (serves 6)

Ingredients
6 carrots
6 stems celery (half a celery head)
1 onion
1 small cauliflower
1 pepper
2.5cm of root ginger
3 garlic cloves
125g of brown lentils
1 vegetable stock cube
1 tin chopped tomatoes

Instructions
Cook the brown lentils in a pan of water and simmer until soft for 20 minutes. Fry onions and garlic. Add the finely chopped or grated ginger, finely chopped celery, then carrots and sweat until soft. Cut the cauliflower into small pieces, add and sweat until soft. Add the spices, tomatoes and lentils from pan and the stock cube, gently simmer until ready. Serve with jacket potatoes, mashed potatoes or long-grain brown rice.

The Impossible Pie

Ingredients

4 eggs

¼ cup margarine

½ cup flour

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp baking powder

2 cups of milk

1 cup coconut

1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until mixed together. Pour into a buttered 10-inch pie dish. Bake in a 180°c/350°F/Gas 4 oven for 1 hour. When cooked, the crust will be on the bottom, the custard in the middle and the coconut on the top.  

No Fuss Shepherds Pie (Serves 4) www.bbcgoodfood.com

Ingredients

1 tbsp sunflower oil

1 large onion, chopped

2-3 medium carrots, chopped

500g pack lamb mince

2 tbsp tomato puree

Large splash Worcestershire sauce

500ml beef stock

900g potatoes, cut into chunks

85g butter

3 tbsp milk

Instructions

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, then soften the onion and carrots for a few mins. When soft, turn up the heat, crumble in the lamb and brown, tipping off any excess fat. Add the tomato purée and Worcestershire sauce, then fry for a few mins. Pour over the stock, bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 40 mins, uncovering halfway

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180C/ fan 160C/ gas 4, then make the mash. Boil the potatoes in salted water for 10-15 mins until tender. Drain, then mash with the butter and milk.

Put the mince into an ovenproof dish, top with the mash and ruffle with a fork. The pie can now be chilled and frozen for up to a month. Bake for 20-25 mins until the top is starting to colour and the mince is bubbling through at the edges. (To bake from frozen, cook at 160C/fan 140C/gas 3 for 1 hr-1 hr 20 mins until piping hot in the centre. Flash under the grill to brown, if you like.) Leave to stand for 5 mins before serving.

Puddings

Flapjack (Serves 30)

Ingredients

500g margarine

454g tin of golden syrup

500g golden granulated sugar

100 raisins or sultanas

1.25kg oats

Instructions

Melt the margarine in a large pan with the golden syrup and granulated sugar. Stir in the oats and the raisins or sultanas. Spoon the mixture into a greased tin and press the mixture down firmly with the spoon. Bake for 30-45 minutes until golden.

Vegan Brownies (serves 9) www.bbc.co.uk/food

Ingredients

170g/6oz self-raising flour
salt
2 tbsp cocoa powder
170g/6oz caster sugar
5 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
230ml/8fl oz sweetened soya milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation method

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease and flour a 20cm/8in square cake tin with some of the sunflower oil.

In a bowl sift together the flour, salt, cocoa powder and sugar. Add the oil, soya milk and vanilla extract, and mix carefully together until completely mixed. Pour into the tin, and bake for about 25 minutes, until the brownies spring back when gently pressed. Leave to cool for five minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Ultimate Scones (serves 5-6) www.bbcgoodfood.com

Ingredients

225g self-raising flour

¼ tsp salt

50g slightly salted butter, chilled, cut in small pieces

25g golden caster sugar

125ml buttermilk*

4 tbsp full-fat milk

A little flour for dusting

Strawberry jam and clotted cream, to serve

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 220C/gas 7/fan 200C and lightly butter a baking sheet (unless you’re using a non-stick sheet). Tip the flour into a mixing bowl with the salt. Shoot in the butter, then rub together with your fingers to make a reasonably fine crumbed mixture, lifting to aerate the mixture as you go. Try not to overrub, as the mixture will be lighter if it’s a little bit flaky. Now stir in the sugar.

Measure the buttermilk, then mix in the milk to slacken it. Make a bit of a well in the middle of the flour mixture with a round-bladed knife, then pour in most of this buttermilk mixture, holding a little bit back in case it’s not needed. Using the knife, gently work the mixture together until it forms a soft, almost sticky, dough. Work in any loose dry bits of mixture with the rest of the buttermilk. Don’t overwork at this point or you will toughen the dough.

Lift the ball of soft dough out of the bowl and put it on to a very lightly floured surface. Knead the mixture just 3-4 times to get rid of the cracks.

Pat the dough gently with your hands to a thickness of no less than 2cm and no more than 2.5cm. Dip a 5.5cm round fluted cutter into a bowl of flour – this helps to stop the dough sticking to it, then cut out the scones by pushing down quickly and firmly on the cutter with the palm of your hand – don’t twist it.You will hear the dough give a big sigh as the cutter goes in. Gather the trimmings lightly then pat and cut out a couple more scones.

Place on the baking sheet and sift over a light dusting of flour or glaze if you wish. Bake for 10-12 minutes until risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack, uncovered if you prefer crisp tops, or covered loosely with a cloth for soft ones.

Serve with strawberry jam and a generous mound of clotted cream (Cornish people put cream first, then jam, Devonians the other way round). Eat them as fresh as you can.

*Buttermilk is a residual liquid that's leftover when you're done churning butter. And that's how it wound up with the name "buttermilk." Some people believe that buttermilk has butter in it, and that it is high in fat and calories, but that is not true. Buttermilk has fewer calories and less fat than whole milk or cream. Buttermilk helps with browning baked goods, and it also helps with the texture. It can be bought in supermarkets (www.about.com).