It’s always exciting to move into a new home and be landed with a new dose of independence. The first time you go for a food shop and have to add things like bleach and toilet roll to your list can be very exciting (even if it sounds quite boring). One of the biggest perks of owning your own home is that you can host a dinner party for your friends. Let out your inner Gordon Ramsey and take over the kitchen, creating some amazing dishes for you and your friends.
Before you start planning your kitchen, make sure that your kitchen is totally up to scratch. Replace the kitchen sinks, paint the walls and make room for your table if you don’t have a separate dining room. Preparing your kitchen and dining room for your guests is the first hurdle before you can start getting down to the fun stuff.
- Don’t Go Crazy With Your Menu
Just because you saw a program where someone roasted a whole hog in their back garden, doesn’t mean that you should do it too. Be careful with the meals that you choose and try to resist the temptation to make something you’ve never tried before. Because if anything goes wrong, you will stress yourself out and it could jeopardise the whole night. Cook something you know off by heart, but maybe add in some extra side dishes such as hasselback potatoes to spruce up the dish for dinner party standards.
- Keep your balance
Instead of planning your meal with bruschetta to start, roast beef for the main and crème brulee for dessert- try and stick to a theme. If Italian is your favourite kind of food, stick to Italian throughout the night. You can even plan your table decorations in accordance with the theme, spacing out your plates enough and making sure to leave room for dishes in the middle of the table.
- Avoid nasty surprises
Always make sure to check with your guests if they have any dietary requirements, or if they don’t like a particular food. You may have a friend who is gluten free, or a vegetarian, so make sure to cater for everyone in your dinner party.
- Plan your time
Make sure you accurately plan how long it will take you to cook each element of your meal. For example if you plan on cooking a joint of meat you’ll need to allow several hours for cooking. To save you time, cook the pudding the night before and leave it in the fridge ready for serving, It will save you stress and mean less things in the oven at once.
Don’t stress yourself out. A dinner party is supposed to be a night you can enjoy too, not just your guests. Make sure you pick meals that don’t require you to be constantly in the kitchen stressing out. Take the time to be in the dining room with everyone else and enjoy the conversation, wine and games.
- Go seasonal
Think about what’s in season at the time of your dinner party. For example, in the fall, squashes and pumpkins are in season so make the most of this with a pumpkin soup or pumpkin pie. The food will taste even better because the ingredients are in their prime.
- Prepare ahead
If you decide to make something like ice cream for your dessert. You can make this up to a week ahead and leave it in the freezer until you need it. If you want to make some fresh bread for the soup for your starter, you can get away with making it the night before and leaving it under a tea towel in the kitchen until you are ready for it. If you can do anything to make the night easier for yourself, definitely go ahead and do it.
If you want to impress your guests with your cooking skill, you may be surprised to know that soufflé isn’t as difficult as many make it out to be. There are some very simple recipes which you can create ahead of time which look incredibly impressive on the plate, but don’t take much effort at all.
- Is it homemade?
You aren’t in a cookery competition, so you don’t have to make everything yourself. If baking isn’t your strong point, don’t feel bad about buying a cheesecake from the store for your pudding. Your guests won’t mind, and as long as the food tastes good it really doesn’t matter.
- Finishing touches
To make your everyday home-cooked meals look like something much more impressive, there are some simple things you can do. By adding some herbs to garnish a simple bowl of soup, you can make a homemade dish look so much more professional. Here are some of the things you could try:
- A drizzle of olive oil or balsamic glaze
- A generous sprinkling or sprig of fresh herbs
- A handful of rocket or basil
- Turmeric in rice to make it yellow
- A wedge of lemon to offset fish dishes
- A grind of black pepper
- A dollop of crème fraîche or soured cream
- Melba toast, Parmesan crisps or cheese straws
- A dollop of mascarpone or extra thick double cream
- Fresh seasonal fruit eg berries or apple
- Sprinkle over icing sugar, cinnamon or cocoa powder
- A sprig of mint
For general presentation:
Make your plate a rainbow. Try and offset orange with green and add reds into meat dishes for extra colour. Use square plates or slate dishes if you want to make your meal seem more gourmet. Try and serve the main part of your dish in individual portions and leave the sides in dishes on the table for everyone to help themselves. A metal dish of curry or a ceramic dish with your lasagne in will look much more impressive than having it all in one pot for everyone to take. It also means that you can make sure everyone gets the same amount and no one misses out on a good sized portion.