Stress-free dinner party
The combination of cooking for more people than you are used to and the added pressure of a “special” occasion has caused many a meltdown in my kitchen over the years. Disasters have happened mostly when I’m exhausted after a long week at work or my enthusiasm has got the better of me and I have taken on too much. So from my mistakes, I offer a few tips for an enjoyable, stress-free evening.
Keep it simple
Never try to tackle too many new things or be too fancy. Don’t be afraid that your food isn’t impressive enough; your guests are just pleased to see you. Fresh, quality ingredients cooked well but simply are likely to impress much more than lots of crazy things cooked up in frenzy. When you’re cooking a lovely piece of meat you only really need two well-cooked accompaniments to compliment it.
Try it the week before
When cooking a new recipe, no matter how well you follow it, there is probably going to be something that goes wrong. All of our ovens are different for starters and some things just don’t work for us. The children laughing their heads off at my attempt at celeriac mash said enough for me to ditch the recipe.
Make the starter/dessert in advance
If dessert can be made a day or two earlier, definitely take this option! This is going to give you more time with your guests on the night and time to start again if it all goes wrong. Some of my favorites to make are no-bake cheesecakes, Panacotta, and summer fruit jelly. As for starters, I normally choose pretty salads that can be arranged an hour before or tartlets that can be heated up when I want to serve them.
Choose the right meat
When it comes to deciding what to cook I tend go for the fail-safe options that need little cooking and are delicious with little done to them. Fillet of beef in a piece or cut into steaks, for example, just needs a little seasoning and browning in a pan before throwing them in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to cook pink. The meat is so tender and of such a good quality, that fancy tricks aren’t needed to impress.