Holding a diner party


My mum and I decided to invite some special guests over and we wanted to do something special.

The most difficulty part of holding a dinner party, when it is for your favourite godmother and her lovely fella, is deciding what the menu will be. The best way to start is to choose the main dish and work out the remaining dishes around this. With that said, choosing which dish should be the centrepiece of the evening is difficult. I personally think deserts look better than the main course but I don’t think everyone would be impressed if I served up a cake for dinner. Therefore, you have to think what is a dish that people rarely make for themselves during the week and go for that. Avoid dishes that you wouldn’t choose at a restaurant because you throw the dishes together at home all the time.

Once you have this you can start to assemble some sort of theme for the evening whether that be spicy, sweet or sour.

Preparation

  • Try to set the table in advance, as well as setting up a tray for after dinner coffees. Nothing is worse than having to flap around like a headless chicken in search of a missing, and vital, teaspoon or cup.
  • Make sure you have all the ingredients and then set up a timesheet so you know that all the dishes will be ready in time and which ones you need to do first.
  • It is always good to have an appropriate playlist to last throughout the dinner. Not many people want to eat dinner, whilst trying to catch up, with heavy metal playing in the background. Especially while eating meat off a bone. It could turn into scene from the Flintstones.
  • Leave time for yourself – it is nice to be able to have a drink and get ready without rushing around before your guests arrive.
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Starters

  • Choose a starter which looks vibrant, appetizing and enticing.
  • Choose a dish which is tasty but not overwhelming. You want to ensure your taste buds are satisfied but now overwhelmed. Therefore, your guests will be looking forward to more scrummy dishes and don’t need a few hours break before the next course.
  • Try to choose something which is  within season. Even better, try to buy the staple ingredients local to ensure freshness.
  • Try to mix up some different tastes without having too many mixed together. One certain flavour should not drown out the others. instead, it should compliment them.
  • Try to choose a dish you can prepare while our guests are having a drink and catching up. Therefore, you can serve them straight away and fill the house with lovely aromas.
  • Always ensure present the dishes in a way that makes the guests rush to the table to start eating.

For our starters we choose to make Asparagus, mozzarella and prosciutto parcels. These little parcels of goodiness were a delight to make, one we turned the frying pan down to stop being spat on by droplets of hot oil. These were great to seal and then serve straight onto people’s plates. They were great served with homemade sun-dried tomato bread.

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Mains

  • For our mains we choose something which would be tasty and look a little bit different. So, after a trip to the local farm shop we made Jamie Oliver’s incredibly baked lamb shanks. Yet, it did look lightly suspicious as we left them out to defrost. These were not only great fun to make, as well as a mini test of intelligence trying to create foil parcels and then nestle the shanks on a bed of vegetables whilst pouring wine over them. Not to mention trying to get the herby butter inside the shanks!, but they basically cook themselves and the meat just fell away from the bone in a melt-in-the-mouth fashion.
  • They also looked fantastic on the plates and were almost a table decoration on their own.
  • serve with a mustard sweet potato and potato mash; redcurrent jelly and a cheeky bottle of red.
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Dessert
  • Choose two or three little desserts so you can tempt everyone into having a little bit of something.
  • I also chose to banish the guests to another room to have a drink and relax while I tidied up and reset the table for dessert. It is a little disconcerting trying to enjoy dessert with lots of unwashed pots strew around the kitchen!
  • I went for a refreshing homemade berry ice cream (thanks to Jamie Oliver), which is also why I banished the guests as the blender would have stopped any conversation. I served this with homemade sorbet. My mum had made a delicious Nigella Lawson‘s apple tart with a dollop of creme fraiche.
Shortbread
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Apple Tart
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Once this dish has been finished you can go and relax with a freshly made coffee and some cheese and biscuits. We even served ours on an overgrown mouse trap shaped cheeseboard. Well, the novelty factor is always a good way to end the evening.
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