OH NO, YOU'RE HAVING A DINNER PARTY!
Its 6.30pm Saturday, the kids need dropping off at mum's,
you still have to shower, the Hors d'oeuvres are not made and your guests
are due to arrive any minute. Sound familiar? The
dreaded dinner party is about to begin. The one which stresses you all
day, and inhibits you from spending any time with your guests, and finally
as the last glass of wine is being poured, finds you lurching for an antacid.
Once all your guests have finally left, and the neighbors can rest that
your driveway has now relinquished being a taxi stand, you slip into bed
and unable to sleep, start the autopsy of another disastrous evening.
The answer is simple! Follow these 5 easy steps to blissful
1) THE SETTING
Make your home relaxing. Hide all those expensive tricky
cooking appliances. Create an atmosphere. Dim the lights and place candles
around the room. Add some fun. For example if you are serving Indian, light
some incense or place scatter cushions on the floor for Japanese style
food. Set the mood with music. Choose light background styles. Music which
is soft and not overpowering. Try not to cram everybody into a small area.
Keeping the number of guests to four or six people makes it more manageable.
Seating your guests depends on the style of dinner, formal or informal.
Place cards are not used much today and by keeping the number of guests
small are not necessary. Avoid the boy/girl syndrome. Allow your guests
the freedom of sitting where they want; they will feel more at ease. If
a guest is bringing a partner nobody else knows, sit them close together.
Making everybody comfortable is part of being a successful host. Getting
your guests in the right frame of mind makes your job that much easier.
Know the likes and dislikes of your guests. The last thing
you need is to serve seafood and find one of your guests is allergic to
crustaceans. Or that a guest is on a special diet. When is the best night
and time to have a dinner party requires research. Saturday night is usually
the best night. It suits most people, as they do not need to work the next
day. Checking with your guests is the best way to find out what suits them.
Many people will accept an invitation to be polite, although the timing
may not suit them. Avoid all of this by asking. What time to start usually
depends on three things. When is it convenient to your guests? Traveling
time for your guests. The seasons, an early start in winter is preferred
and the opposite in summer. Finding out your guest's needs is simple, when
you invite them ask if there is any thing they prefer you not serve. You
will be surprised how appreciative they are about the caring host.
Serving pre dinner drinks depends again on the guest list.
The best way to overcome a situation of asking people what they would like,
and then being asked for something you don't have is to, make some easy
cocktails like Martinis or a summer punch. Offer beer or champagne as the
two choices, most people will be happy with one or the other. If your guests
are driving , it is wise to supply soft drink or spring water for the designated
driver. No matter what red or white meat you are serving, supply your guests
with both red and white wine. Let your guests determine what they want
to drink with what food. Traditionally it is true that certain wines complement
certain styles of food. The trend today seems towards people drinking the
wine they like with the food they like, and so they should. Wine is to
It does not mater how formal or informal your dinner party
is, the most important thing to remember is your guests are there to enjoy
your home, the food and most of all your company.
5) THE MENU
A dinner party menu does not need to be complicated. The
trick is to find simple dishes that are tasty and look great. Easier said
than done you say. In today's supermarkets, there is an amazing array of
food pre-cooked or simple to make. Recently I held a dinner party where
all the food served came out of plastic or a packet, and my guests left
content, surprised and in admiration of my cooking skills. The secret to
a successful dinner party is to be well prepared, choose your menu wisely,
plan a menu that can be prepared a day in advance, such as meats in marinades,
and soups, which taste better after a day or two. Choose dishes that are
easily put together on the evening and can be plated with little fuss.
Cook food in advance, rice and vegetables for example. Utilize the dust
covered thing in the corner, which is called a microwave, to heat the side
dishes that you have prepared. Shop for food items the day before. Take
the strain out of the day of the dinner party.
Pumpkin and Seafood Soup
1 can of pumpkin soup
500g green prawn meat
1 can of seafood bisque
400 mls milk
Pour both cans of soup into pot and add milk. On a high
heat, bring to simmer. Place prawn meat in fry pan with a little butter
and cook for 3 minutes. Serve soup in bowls, top with prawns and a sprig
of fresh coriander
Sun dried Tomato Cheese Fagottini
2x375g sun dried tomato & cheese Fagottini (ready
made and pre cooked)
2x425g shrimp and mushroom pasta sauce (ready made from
Shaved parmesan cheese
Place pasta in a saucepan of boiling water, cook for 5
minutes, drain. Heat sauce in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring every
couple of minutes. Place pasta in bowls, pour sauce over pasta and garnish
with shaved parmesan and a sprig of fresh basil.
Aussie Cheese Platter
Australia makes some of the best cheese in the world including
Brie, Gouda, Blue Vein, Goats cheese and many more. Finish your dinner
party with a cheese platter. Place lettuce on a platter and cheese on this,
serve with dried apricots, raisins and water crackers.
Menu serves 4 people.
Now get on that phone and invite your friends over for
a dinner party. When they arrive, kick back your heels, relax, oh, and
don't forget to indulge in a little guilt on just how easy it all is. It
won't take long for the word to go around that you hold the most relaxing
and enjoyable dinner parties.
by Gary Keenan, © 1998
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