Now the holidays are over, the menu planning and entertaining involved is done, I can’t help but think about hosting dinner parties.
We invite some friends, try and decide what to cook and in general make ourselves nuts!
Have you ever watched “Dinner Party Wars” or better yet the UK version “Come Dine With Me”? It’s like watching a horror show a lot of the time which, I guess, is the attraction! They all start out with such optimism or are so cocky and then things seem to go from bad to worse and in some cases, the host “goes down in flames!” And don’t you just love it when the “guests” start rummaging through the “hosts” underwear drawer!! Yikes, what is that all about?
I cooked for a living, so have learned a thing or two about planning sit down dinners out of necessity, where the fear factor (like losing my job), played a huge part!
For starters, remember the KISS (keep it simple, stupid rule!) As time marches on, I try more and more to simplify things and our Christmas dinner this year was a great example of the host and hostess not being completely exhausted by the time dinner was ready to be served! We had juicy roasted turkey breast, a gravy base concocted from the neck, giblets and wings, made the day before, then used to make the gravy once the turkey was done, scalloped potatoes flavoured with roasted garlic, onions and thyme, green beans with lemon and braised carrots with sage. For dessert there was sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce, both made the day before requiring only a short time to reheat. All in all, it was a delicious but straightforward meal, easy on the cook!
If it can be done ahead, DO IT! When putting together menus, I start out with some recipe ideas of what I would like to make but always remembering the KISS rule. So long as the food is wonderful , the host is relaxed, there’s nice music and great wine being poured, things pretty much look after themselves and everyone enjoys themselves!
In the olden days, we spent days preparing for a big dinner party, only to find that by the time everyone was seated I was so burned out that I could barely eat or taste the food!
Enough of that…
So…back to the T.V. shows. I know they have a deadline and a day to get things done but the menus are usually so over the top and far too complicated with too many things being done at the last minute and of course and you’ve seen this, the host has been sipping away during the day! Yikes…what I call a recipe for disaster. No, you cannot do it all! It’s crazy making! KISS, you’ll be thrilled you did!
**If you would like to check out the recipes for our Christmas menu, please see “A Christmas Lunch.” Not only for Christmas!