Do you ever find when people come over for dinner that rather than relaxing and enjoying yourself you spend the whole evening rushing around and sweating over something complicated in the kitchen?
I used to do this all the time until I realised two things. Firstly that I didn't actually have to make everything from scratch, surely if my friends want a complicated gastronomic meal they’d choose to eat at a restaurant rather than my humble abode? And secondly that if I didn't want to be in the kitchen all night I was going to have to do the majority of the cooking before my guests arrive. (This also meant that I had the awful realisation that pasta would be permanently off the menu, unless I wanted a steam facial whilst my guests were waiting for their dinner.)
After these two light bulb moments presented themselves (during said pasta steam facial) I realised the key was all in the planning – budget, menu, shopping, prep, cooking etc. etc. Now I realise this sounds terrible boring, and perhaps nothing new, but it is crucial. There is no point in 8 hour slow cooked delicious stew if you start cooking it three hours too late and one of your guests has started to gnaw at the table leg in the meantime. Or if you choose to do a wonderful cheese board instead of desert but this ends up costing the as much as a small share in a channel 2.55.
There are countless magazines/cookery books out there with wonderful sounding dinner party menu’s/ canapés etc. but I realised, to my peril, that unless you have an army of sous chefs to help you with prep and a bottomless wallet these all seem somewhat over ambitious. So, after many trials and tribulations, this series is about my favourite and most successful entertaining menu’s. They might be stupidly simple, super cheap, super extravagant or something in between, but above all else I hope they are useful! I’d love to hear how they work for you and your top tips for entertaining.