Hosting a dinner party is stressful. It is also expensive, time-consuming and a hell of a lot of work. Let us look at the formula here:
5 appetites + 5 tastes/ (1 oven + 1 chef) = Massive potential for disaster.
There is no denying it, dinner parties can be terrifying.
Predictably one of the main causes of panic before a dinner party is the menu – in particular an over-complicated menu – I argue that with a little well placed forward planning and a realistic choice of menu, a dinner party need not be so terrifying. Therefore, I have decided to give you my three fool proof recipes for starter, main and dessert which should easily satisfy a table of six. So here we go; three recipes designed to excite your taste buds, and not your blood pressure…
Photo by Louise Ayling
Chili and Lime Cob
Along with my love of cooking, I also inherited this recipe idea from my talented Mum. With a touch of theater in the eating, this dish is perfect for dinner parties. It genuinely could not be easier, and the mix of flavors makes this typically summer-time dish into a year-round classic. I recommend beginning this dish once you have set your chorizo stew to simmer, that way your guests will not have to wait too long for their next course.
Cooking Time: Ten Minutes
6 Corn on the cob (removed from their ears)
1 ½ fresh lime
1 heaped tsp of chili flakes
3 tsps of rock salt
- Put your 4 corn on the cobs to boil in a large stock pot, making sure all are fully submerged in the water. Leave for 7-10minutes (depending on how soft you like your corn.)
- Meanwhile, using a pestle and mortar (or the back of a spoon on a chopping board) crush your rock salt and dried chili flakes together, down to a relatively fine texture and place in a small ramekin.
- Cut your lime into quartered wedges.
- Once your corn has cooked, remove from the boil and briefly drain of any excess water. Place on the table with the salt mix and lime wedges.
- Get your guests to take a wedge of lime, and squeeze the juice over the cob. Using a teaspoon then sprinkle a layer of your chili salt mix over the cob, it might seem a little alien to use so much salt in a meal at once, but it perfectly balances the sweet of the corn, and by allowing your guests to sprinkle their own, anyone who is a little concerned can always control their intake.
- Once sprinkled, your starters are done. Eat the corn straight from the cob to get the full kick of the flavours!
Chorizo and Butterbean Hearty Stew
This is an absolute staple in my household, and it could not be more perfect to combat a crisp autumn evening. I have not met a person who has tried this recipe and does not love it, and better yet, as it only requires one pot it even cuts out the rubbish washing-up part.
Cooking Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
2 large onions
4 cloves of garlic
Tsp fennel seeds
1 chorizo ring (chopped into 1cm slices)
2 tins chopped tomatoes
300ml chicken stock
2 tins butterbeans
Tsp dried basil
100ml red wine
Handful chopped parsley
To serve – warm crusty bread and a rocket salad.
- In a large stock pot, heat your onions with the garlic and fennel seeds. Once your onions have begun to soften, add your chorizo and heat until the chorizo releases it juices and begins to brown. This should take around 5-7mins.
- Add your tomatoes, stock, butterbeans, basil and wine. Give the mixture a good stir, and leave on a low-medium heat for 40mins. Stir occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Just as you are coming to the end of your 40mins, put your crust bread into the oven to heat through.
- Once the mixture has reduced down by 1/3 remove from the heat. (If at anytime during the 40mins of simmering the mixture begins to look dry, add a little boiling water and reduce the heat slightly.)
- Add your handful of chopped parsley, and mix through to add a little color.
- Serve in the pan with your warm crusty bread and a side salad of rocket.
Raspberry Frozen Yogurt with Meringue.
This dish can be prepared up to four hours ahead of eating, it takes five minutes to mix up, and then all you need do is pop it in the freezer until dessert time. Served with a sprig of mint, and some crumbly crispy meringue to sweeten, this dessert will be the perfect finale to your stress-free, flavor full evening.
Cooking time: 5 minutes for preparation & Up to 4 hours solidifying (but, can be eaten straight away!)
500g frozen raspberries
500ml natural plain yogurt
3-4 tbsp of runny honey
3 meringue nests (I use shop bought…)
(For an added extra, put the serving glasses in the freezer with the yogurt to freeze)
- Put your yogurt and honey in a food processor and mix thoroughly.
- Add in half the frozen raspberries, pulse in the blender until the mixture is smooth, and now add the other half – and again pulse until smooth.
The mixture should be quite tart, but as you will be serving it with very sweet meringue this will balance the sweet/tart well.
- Place in the freezer in a bowl, after 90 minutes stir the mixture to avoid it developing ice crystals. Leave in the freezer for a maximum of four hours.
- Serve in small glass sized portions, with crumbled meringue and a sprig of mint to garnish.
So there you have them, 3 delicious and easy recipes!