As the evenings get longer and darker and the wintry weather sets in, leaving the house seems less and less attractive. The hermit season doesn’t have to mean you miss out on fantastic food and spending time with friends, why not transform your dining room into a shelter from the storm with a cosy dinner party?
There is nothing better than sharing something you’ve cooked yourself with loved ones, but there’s no need to be a slave to the kitchen on the day of your party. Every delicious, easy lamb recipe you could ever want is at your fingertips at www.tastyeasylamb.ie to make preparation and cooking time as minimal as possible.
We asked TastyEasyLamb Lambassadors Imen McDonnell, Nicola Halloran of The Wonky Spatula blog and The Little Green Spoon Indy Power to share their top five tips for hosting a delicious dinner party to remember.
1. Prep ahead- make as much as you can ahead of time so that you can enjoy the evening rather than spending time in the kitchen. Assembling, dressing and heating things is fine but you shouldn’t be standing over the stove while your guests are in the other room.
2. Choose dishes you’re comfortable with so you don’t have a last minute disaster with an unknown recipe.
3. Make extra – hopefully your guests will love the food and it’s better to have some leftovers than to run out.
4. Make sure the dish washer is empty! There’s nothing worse than going to stack it quickly and realising it’s full.
5. Use lots of candles! I love lots of candles on the table and a nice scented candle in the bathroom and in the hall. It really sets the tone and makes your house really inviting and chilled.
Read our interview with Indy here.
1. Curate the guest list so that you have an interesting mix of people. I love to sit a farmer next to a fashion designer, or the dentist next to the chef. Never put couples together. This starts out a bit awkward, but always ends up more fun.
2. If you can bring the dinner outside, do! Long lingering dinner parties surrounded by nature in the garden are so much better.
3. Make it easy on yourself. When I designed my kitchen, I wanted it to be open plan stadium style, so for years I used to stand and cook for everyone while they sat at the dinner table in front of me. I never got to relax and enjoy the evening. Now, I have gone in the exact opposite direction and prepare as much as possible before the party or have the guests pitch in too which can be fun. Prep in advance and keep the menu simple.
4. I like to keep the table settings natural and seasonal. Fresh flowers or garlands of what is growing locally at the moment, beeswax candles, rough linen napkins, local stoneware, you don’t need much to set a beautifully inviting table.
5. Serve dessert in another room if you can. It’s nice to move away from the table at the end of the meal. Maybe light a fire in the sitting room and bring everyone in there…..which brings me to 6!
6. Parlour games. Everyone knows that I insist of playing parlour games at the end of our dinner parties. Cards of Humanity, Charades, Apples to Apples, it gets everyone laughing and ends the night with a bang.
Read our interview with Imen here.
1. Cloth napkins are an absolute must for any dinner party – you can jazz them up with napkin rings or match their colour scheme to your table accessories for a polished look.
2. Delicious, hassle-free food is the key to a great dinner party – one pot dishes like this Lamb and Spinach Curry are ideal for a crowd and can be made in advance.
3. I never have a dinner party without Champagne! Toasting to a great evening with your favourite people deserves bubbles!
4. Invite your good friends and tailor the menu to include things they love – if your best friend adores banoffee pie then that’s your dessert choice sorted!
5. Most importantly – have good fun! Don’t ruin the evening for yourself worrying about everything being perfect – the best dinner parties are the ones where the hostess is having as much fun as the guests.
Read our interview with Nicola here.
Growing up with the name Darina, I was constantly asked if I could cook like my namesake. I am the only person to have contested both Masterchef and the Great Irish Bake Off and am passionate about discovering and creating delicious things – I can sometimes be caught in the act on TV3’s Six O’Clock Show. Working with TheTaste allows me to satisfy this craving and marries my food fascination with my love of writing and ranting.