Why do we get so stressed by doing dinner for friends? The main point of a dinner party is to relax and enjoy each other’s company.
No amount of money thrown at food (or decoration) is going to impress your guests more than an easy evening full of stimulating conversation, eating good food accompanied by lashings of the latest offers from your local wine shop or supermarket.
Most people’s stress stems from aching their brains to come up with a menu that mixes courses well, is easy to prepare and leaves the cook plenty of time to spend with the guests rather than slaving away in splendid isolation over the cooker. Things you can prepare in advance or things that you can cook in an instant in front of everyone are the best bet.
Make it and Mend it's Clare O’Brien has done the hard work for you by developing some great menu suggestions: her 10 good menu ideas for giving your mates a great meal for under £20 (to feed four) are on the MIAMI website.
Here's a couple of examples:
Roast chicken, roast potatoes & green salad. Chocolate crunchies & fresh fruit
This is a classic, low cost, wow them with flavour dinner. One chicken will do for four people. Try and use duck or goose fat for the potatoes: they'll taste so much better. Just add a simple vinaigrette dressing on the leaves. The chocolate crunchies are a Nigel Slater grown up twist on a childhood favourite. Ho yum!
Chilli con carne, rice & salsa. Tiramasu.
Two classics. Try for a change Delia Smith’s great recipe for Chilli from her Winter Cookbook (she uses black beans not kidney beans). Round it off with everyone’s favourite dessert (and again, Delia does Tiramasu so well). So nostalgic, you’ll want to light the room with candles stuck in chianti bottles!
For more menu ideas