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NOW CLOSED Share your best dinner party dishes with Waitrose.com - you could win a £100 Waitrose voucher

(100 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 13-May-12 17:28:35

On Saturday 12th May Waitrose.com sent 12 Mumsnetters and their guests to Waitrose Cookery School in North London to attend a Michelin-star cookery masterclass. They spent the day preparing (and eating) a three course dinner party menu consisting of:

~ Roast scallops, potato gnocchi and truffle emulsion
~ Rack of lamb with braised peas, bacon, lettuce and mint with dauphinoise potatoes
~ Inverted lemon tart, summer fruit salad and lemon yoghurt sorbet

This thread is for their feedback on the day but we'd also like to open this up to all on MN - so if you didn't attend please add your own comments on your favourite dinner party dishes - what's the best dish you've either made for or been served at a dinner party? Everyone who adds their comments to this thread will be entered into a prize draw where one winner will receive a £100 Waitrose.com voucher.

For those of you who attended the event, please tell us all about it. Specifically we'd like to know:

~ What did you enjoy most about the cookery masterclass? Was there anything that particularly stood out for you/your guest?
~ What was the most valuable tip you learnt on the day?
~ Which dish did you enjoy cooking the most and why? Do you think you will you cook any of these dishes again? Have you thought on any twists on the dishes you cooked that you'd like to try?
~ Do you think you'd recommend a class at the Waitrose Cookery School to a friend or family member? If so, why? If not, why not?

Please also feel free to add any other comments you have about the day.

We hope you enjoyed the experience, good luck with the prize draw.

MNHQ

lumbago Sun 13-May-12 17:29:50

you cant go wrong with a nice lemon tart imo.
im crap at pastry but my mate isnt. everyone loved them and not too ££ wither

That's not the main course that we cooked....

~ What did you enjoy most about the cookery masterclass? Was there anything that particularly stood out for you/your guest?

I really enjoyed learning how to make new dishes. The Chefs worked fantastically well as a team and made us all feel very welcome. Although they used 'chef words' they explained the meaning, so we all came away with new vocabulary to bamboozle our friends. grin I also liked that someone else cleared away our cooking utensils/pans to keep the work/cook area tidy.

~ What was the most valuable tip you learnt on the day?
How to present food in such a way so that it looks fabulous as well as tasting amazing. Having the chefs onhand to check and advise while we were cooking was handy.

The best tip was to put the pan on the heat without butter/oil for cooking until just before you need to use it.

~ Which dish did you enjoy cooking the most and why? Do you think you will you cook any of these dishes again? Have you thought on any twists on the dishes you cooked that you'd like to try?

My favourite dish was the scallops, although the flavours of the dessert were amazingly thought out.
I have already organised to have some friends round and will cook the whole menu for them, although probably wont do all of the pudding, maybe lemon tart and the fruit salad with some cream/ice cream.
I am making Scallops for us all tomorrow, again, wont do Gnocchi but will do asparagus, broad beans and peas with maybe some celeriac remoulade instead of gnocchi.

~ Do you think you'd recommend a class at the Waitrose Cookery School to a friend or family member? If so, why? If not, why not?

I would recommend a course, actually have already done so - and I will be back for more.
I learned lots yesterday, despite being an accomplished cook (toots own trumpet) and my friend who is a real foody is desperate to attend a course since I called her last night to tell her all about the day.
The photographs we took yesterday were proof that we made, ate and enjoyed everything.

ah yes, we made sous vide venison, not rack of lamb.

CheeryCherry Sun 13-May-12 18:27:05

Starter....the most delicious creamy garlic mushrooms with slices of home baked ciabatta.
Main.....melt in your mouth hand hand made lasagne (pasta freshly made) with in season asparagus and baby carrots roasted in oil&honey. Side salad too.
Pudd....chocolate orange mousse with home baked shortbread fingers.
Mmmmmmmm!

noseynoonoo Sun 13-May-12 19:21:48

I went on the course as someone who wanted to develop some cooking skills but also wanted to learn more about cooking equipment and serving ware, having just had a new kitchen installed.

~ What did you enjoy most about the cookery masterclass? Was there anything that particularly stood out for you/your guest?

The trainers and other staff stood out as the School’s greatest asset. As someone with basic skills I appreciated the clear instructions given and the patience shown by the trainers. The 'back-stage' crew should be commended to for making it appear seamless.

~ What was the most valuable tip you learnt on the day?

Cooking the scallops at a medium heat rather than high heat. Also, cooking the cabbage with just a small amount of oil/butter.

~ Which dish did you enjoy cooking the most and why? Do you think you will you cook any of these dishes again? Have you thought on any twists on the dishes you cooked that you'd like to try?

I enjoyed cooking the starter most of all. I will definitely cook this again. The gnocchi will be made this week – I never realised they were so easy to make. My children will enjoy these with a range of different accompaniments and I think my husband and I will have them with something mixed into them prior to cooking.

~ Do you think you'd recommend a class at the Waitrose Cookery School to a friend or family member? If so, why? If not, why not?

I would recommend it to friends. No matter what your competency level I think everyone would take something away from the course. I am converted to the idea of cookery schools and am sure I'll book a course but perhaps might not go back to Finchley Rd due to its distance from my home.

In addition to the answers you’ve requested:
~ I would have liked to know more about the wine – and would probably have bought a bottle of the red to take home.
~ I felt that there was insufficient work space and we kept bumping into the people behind us.
~ I would have preferred a menu that we could make in its entirety rather than having components made for us.
~ I would attend a course on how to use different types of equipment - and then go on the JL website to buy the items I thought were useful.
~ I shall now be looking for Greek basil in my local Waitrose.

Thanks for a great day!

Snapespeare Sun 13-May-12 19:37:48

Favourite 3 courses for dinner party...

Starter, chorizo and brie salad
Main, mushroom lasagne with crisp salad greens
Pud almond shortbread with cream cheese and strawberries.

I'm doing dinner next weekend tho and will pinch cheerycherrys menu. Sounds lovely!

Wiifitmama Sun 13-May-12 20:18:08

I was one of the lucky attendees.

~ What did you enjoy most about the cookery masterclass? Was there anything that particularly stood out for you/your guest?

It was an amazing day overall. Some of my favourite parts included: the magic fairies that cleared up after us between each course and made the per-measured ingredients appear for the next course!; learning about fancy presentation; the attention to detail.

~ What was the most valuable tip you learnt on the day?

There were two: one was that ihave been cooking with extra birgin olive oil which they don't recommend. I should be cooking with light olive oil instead which is good news as it is cheaper! The other tip was about getting everything prepared and cooked that can be and then "finishing off" at the last minute before serving.

~ Which dish did you enjoy cooking the most and why? Do you think you will you cook any of these dishes again? Have you thought on any twists on the dishes you cooked that you'd like to try?

The dessert was amazing and something I would definitely make for a dinner party. It was so impressive to look at and eat but not tha complicated to make as so much could be done ahead of time.

~ Do you think you'd recommend a class at the Waitrose Cookery School to a friend or family member? If so, why? If not, why not?

Yes, definitely. It is very local to me and I have already told lots of friends about it. The all day classes are very expensive, but they do evening classes at a much more reasonable cost. I would love to do another class there! The environment was very nice too... Very comfortable and airy and light.

Woodlands Sun 13-May-12 21:00:56

~ What did you enjoy most about the cookery masterclass? Was there anything that particularly stood out for you/your guest?
My DH and I both really enjoyed the day. We loved the experience of cooking with all the ingredients prepared for us and the washing up whisked away as if by magic!

~ What was the most valuable tip you learnt on the day?
There were loads of great tips. The ones I liked the best were to cut a lemon on an angle if you are going to juice it so that the juice comes out in one stream, and to roll out sweet pastry between two sheets of greaseproof paper. So simple but so effective!

~ Which dish did you enjoy cooking the most and why? Do you think you will you cook any of these dishes again? Have you thought on any twists on the dishes you cooked that you'd like to try?
I really enjoyed cooking all three dishes. I was surprised to find out how easy it is to make gnocchi - I'll definitely try that at home. The lemon tart was also surprisingly simple. We were discussing on the way home whether we would try to cook the whole menu at home - not decided yet. We'll certainly use some of the lessons we learnt about how to present food elegantly.

~ Do you think you'd recommend a class at the Waitrose Cookery School to a friend or family member? If so, why? If not, why not?
Yes, definitely. We were impressed with the set up and the format of the day, with each stage being demonstrated in a theatre while the ingredients were made ready for the next stage. The whole day was seamless. The staff were all professional and knowledgeable but also very friendly and informal. I'd love to go back!

Woodlands Sun 13-May-12 21:02:26

I would agree with noseynoonoo that it was a bit of a shame we didn't get to make all the elements ourselves (things like the truffle emulsion, the celeriac puree and the lemon yoghurt sorbet were all made for us)- but we saw why they did this.

~ What did you enjoy most about the cookery masterclass? Was there anything that particularly stood out for you/your guest?
What a great day! The chefs were fantastic, very warm and friendly but incredibly clear in their instructions and advice. We thought the format was well balanced between learning and then utilising your new skills. It was also lovely having regular pauses to eat our creations.

~ What was the most valuable tip you learnt on the day?
I also definitely valued the tip on rolling out short pastry between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper, what a difference it made. The advice on working with the tuille was fab too. Popping it in and out of the oven means you can mess up as much as you like and have another try.

~ Which dish did you enjoy cooking the most and why? Do you think you will you cook any of these dishes again? Have you thought on any twists on the dishes you cooked that you'd like to try?
All the dishes were great but I particularly enjoyed the starter dish and will definitely recreate it for my husband at least. I've also been pondering on other ways to use the truffle emulsion, and I reckon I'm going to try pairing it with beef carpaccio. I will also try elements of the dessert. I'm not usually a dessert cook, but I feel a renewed confidence!

~ Do you think you'd recommend a class at the Waitrose Cookery School to a friend or family member? If so, why? If not, why not?
I would certainly recommend a class at Waitrose Cookery School, it was a fantastic day out and a really valuable experience in terms of the new skills I learnt. The staff were great, the dishes were delicious and I would love to go back myself. I think this particular course was a great introduction but I would like to try something more technical and a little more challenging next time. I was also a bit disappointed not to get more feedback from the staff on our finished dishes. I was hoping for John and Greg style comments!

Thank you MN and Waitrose

DaisyMaisyJessicaEmily Mon 14-May-12 11:37:28

Fruity zingy desserts are much nicer after a meal than rich puds.

My best dinner party was blush a fondue party! Things like that and picky mezze style courses are great.

CMOTDibbler Mon 14-May-12 11:45:37

My favourite dinner party menu is simple, but with great ingredients - this time of year it would be:
amazing fresh asparagus from down the road with great butter, and basted eggs
roast beef (local, rare breed) with great veggies, maple roast parsnips, roasties in goose fat
lavender creme brulee

I do love a raclette too

flamingtoaster Mon 14-May-12 11:57:10

The dish which produced the biggest reaction at a dinner party was when I made a very large Creme Caramel for my DH's boss as we knew it was his favourite. The cookery book I had only had a recipe for a very large one which was then portioned so that was what I made - bringing it to the table whole. DH's boss had never been served Creme Caramel other than in a ramekin so was very impressed!

Other favourite dinner party recipes: a Malaysian Fish Stew recipe given to me by my MIL who had got it from a Malaysian friend.

dairymoo Mon 14-May-12 12:24:12

I was one of the people lucky enough to attend.
My feedback:

~ What did you enjoy most about the cookery masterclass? Was there anything that particularly stood out for you/your guest?
The format of the day was brilliant - it felt relaxed and enjoyable. At the beginning, I was wondering how we were going to have enough time to pull together all of the different elements of the dishes, but the fact that some were pre-prepped ahead of time meant that the actual cooking stages were really stress-free. I agree that it would have been nice to have a go at making, for example, the truffle emulsion, but I felt the demo equipped me with enough knowledge to have a go at home.

~ What was the most valuable tip you learnt on the day?
To have all the parts of the dish 'en place' so that the final stage is just a quick flash in the pan, and a bit of time spent on plating up.

~ Which dish did you enjoy cooking the most and why? Do you think you will you cook any of these dishes again? Have you thought on any twists on the dishes you cooked that you'd like to try?
I thought the starter was amazing, and I will def be serving it to friends soon. I loved the fact that so much of it could be done in advance. I wasn't as keen on the vension 'sous vide', or the black pudding but I'd like to have a go sustituting duck breast for the venison and some kind of alternative sausagemeat for the black pudding.

~ Do you think you'd recommend a class at the Waitrose Cookery School to a friend or family member? If so, why? If not, why not?
Yes, definitely. My mum and I love doing cooking courses and so I am trying to work out which Waitrose Cook School one we'd like to do next.

One last comment, it would have been nice to have some feedback on presentation from the chefs, and also to find out some more about the wines that were chosen to accompany the courses.

A great day all in all - thanks very much Mumsnet and Waitrose.com!

SpagboLagain Mon 14-May-12 12:38:49

I have a favourite dinner party dessert. It's a Delia summer fruit jelly. You make jelly with champagne/ prosecco and pour over berries in a loaf tin, set and slice. It looks amazing, is dead easy, and who doesn't love fizzy jelly? smile

hanahsaunt Mon 14-May-12 12:55:49

Pudding of the moment here is Heston's exploding chocolate ganache; tastes sublime and the popping candy is just fun smile.

BornSicky Mon 14-May-12 13:04:25

my favourite food is all relatively simple, but social food, so I love Raclette... plates of meats, cheeses, salads and new potatoes and the fun of assembling your cheese/meat in the grill pans and then pouring over hot, buttery potatoes...

and i like comfort puds in the winter... treacle tart and custard, or apple crumble and cream.

but in the summer - i love fruity dessert...tarte au citron raspberry sorbet. a really quick and nice dessert is crushed digestives with sliced apricots and clotted cream!

i was served an amazing yotam ottolenghi goats' cheese tart which was heavenly.

PineappleBed Mon 14-May-12 13:20:26

Oh favourite dinner party menu...

I think it would have to be:
- homemade pate with toast, butter and watercress
- duck with orange polenta, sticky sauce, smashed new potatoes and veg
- big slab of chocolate mocha cheese cake
- coffee

Lie on sofa, hold stomach, groan

Firawla Mon 14-May-12 13:24:58

I didn't go to the event but just having a look at the site now because it sounds quite interesting, i feel tempted to do the morrocan or vegetarian ones but whether or not i would get round to organising childcare and actually going im not sure.
But as for dinner parties, my cooking is quite crap! so i do worry about when i have to feed people as my food will not be that good so actually seems like quite a good idea to go on a course and learn a menu that i would feel confident in doing because of learning it from professionals - although non of the items listed from the course the mners went on, is really something i would make (apart from the lemon tart) because we normally have asian food. if i go for dinner most people normally give biryani, but i cant make biryani (i have tried and failed, it comes out rubbish) so i have to make normally either lamb curry or roast chicken, rice, dal, + vegetables etc etc

I am another lucky attendee here & thanks to an amazing uncle of the DC's I was able to take DP with me. I was excited, he was nervous. We both had an awesome day.

~ What did you enjoy most about the cookery masterclass? Was there anything that particularly stood out for you/your guest?
The staff were all amazing, talented, personable and fun.
I really enjoyed the luxury feel to the day - not just regarding the cooking, but the overall feel was one of a real treat, high quality from start to finish. Nothing was too much trouble for all the staff, who worked well as a team to look after us throughout the day.
Also using the kitchen workstations was incredible - airy & light, well equipped and thoughtfully set out, with everything you need to hand. Inspired me to do some de-cluttering in my kitchen.
There was lovely attention to detail with fresh coffees, and iced drinks available for us.

~ What was the most valuable tip you learnt on the day?
So many little things - cutting citrus on a slant, how to make a really flash sausage roll, the concept of mise en place may seem glaringly obvious, but it was great to see that in action (esp for DP who tends to cook one thing at a time smile), you can buy truffles in a jar and make the most awesome mayo on the world with them. And of course I CAN cook a sublime 3 course meal. ME, MOI!

DP is quite a good cook but has NEVER used a recipe despite encouragement from me (he cooks what his Mum or brother taught him & cooks what he knows). He skipped out of class at the end of the day, talking about how he now feels like he could follow a recipe and make it work, which for me was the hugest achievement of the day (seismic shift there).

~ Which dish did you enjoy cooking the most and why? Do you think you will you cook any of these dishes again? Have you thought on any twists on the dishes you cooked that you'd like to try?
The scallop, gnocchi, truffle starter was a winner & I will def make this again. Will be making the black pudding, serrano ham sausage rolls too. And I will try the pudding too. Not overly keen on venison and don't have a sous vide, but a friend does and I now feel confident enough to experiment a little more with that.

I will experiment with tarts/pastry in the future. Although we didn't make the pastry (as it needed time to rest/chill etc), it was amazingly delicious and I'm inspired to explore pastry further.

All my ice cream will be served with tuilles in the future smile at the very least.

~ Do you think you'd recommend a class at the Waitrose Cookery School to a friend or family member? If so, why? If not, why not?
Oh yes I would & I have already. I have brought cookery classes as gifts in the past and I think a class here would make a lovely gift. Waitrose combine learning, talent and knowledge with a fun day of gastric pampering very well.

Thank you very much MN & Waitrose!!

HateBeingCantDoUpMyJeans Mon 14-May-12 16:10:40

Sounds like it was a fab day envy

The best things I've served, probably homemade pate and homemade bread ( not via a bread maker!) with a friends homemade chutney. We quite often have had pâté in our circle of dinners but they've always been bought so was did impress them (yes's easy to impress!)

I also made mojito sorbet once, it's a drink that has is significant for tge group. If there is something you can make that has meaning I think it works well for a dinner party.

Best thing I have had served is a cherry and choc trifle. I hate so wasn't looking forward to it, had just been told trifle for pud. So when it was served it was a pleasant surprise and is now something I make every Xmas.

OvO Mon 14-May-12 16:33:32

I've never been to nor held a dinner party. Woe is me. So I don't even have a favourite dinner party dish.

<gets out tiny violin>

devilsadvocaat Mon 14-May-12 18:01:19

on your favourite dinner party dishes -

Starter: nice soup and homemade bread
Main: Greek salad, stuffed peppers, Halloumi, hummus etc
Pudding: has to be something chocolatey!
Fondant or brownie

what's the best dish you've either made for or been served at a dinner party

Starter: beetroot and apple soup with goats cheese
Main: beef Wellington, asparagus wrapped in bacon
Pudding: hot brownie Sundae with cream and chopped nuts or nigella's ice cream cake with hot chocolate sauce

bagelmonkey Mon 14-May-12 18:45:10

I'm haven't really had or been to any dinner parties, but if I was hosting one, my favourite dinner party dish would a seafood lasagne recipe I got from my mum. If we have friends around for dinner it tends to be very casual - home made pizzas or a BBQ kind of thing. Im an ok cook, but I wouldn't be confident about hosting a 'dinner party' at all.

missorinoco Mon 14-May-12 19:24:44

I'm salivating at that dinner part list

The best dish I have served at a dinner part was a beef in guiness pie. I had to prepare it the day before, and I just caught it before it burnt, but it tasted divine. I would probably class that as the tastiest though.

The best dishes are ones which are stress free, I currently cut all possible corners when catering due to limited time.
Massman lamb curry (from the Waitrose website), tastes lovely, very easy, and has given me a reputation as a whizz (?sp) in the kitchen now.

Also a few select Jamie's 30 minute meal dishes. The chicken pie and french style peas were served to me at a dinner party, and I was in cuilinary heaven.

Sorry, that's not one favourite, I know.

QOD Mon 14-May-12 20:12:52

Bes t dinner party I hosted was one month post bariatric surgery!

I wanted to provide food I could eat grin

Starter was bread sticks and hummus
Main was home made broccoli and stilton soup
Desert sugar free jelly and low fat custard

Their faces were hilarious!! I did allow the other guests to have fresh breads and garlic breads etc

The soup was utterly delicious and I converted 3 people to it

PepeLePew Mon 14-May-12 20:55:36

That menu sounds amazing. I am not nearly that ambitious.

My most successful menu involved a pesto and tomato galette with rocket salad, posh fish pie, and a chocolate and raspberry torte. I have another menu I do when I want something less formal which involves a lot of curries, mostly prawn and fish based.

My husband is a butcher so we are very spoiled with great meat at home all the time - beef, fillet steak, venison, his homemade sausages and burgers but one of the most memorable meals we made at home was a lobster bisque. The lobsters were ridiculously cheap so we cooked 4 of them and had 2 whole lobsters each over candlelight - felt very extravagant and tasted delicious! Easy to make and memorable

What did you enjoy most about the cookery masterclass? Was there anything that particularly stood out for you/your guest?

I loved getting to cook and eat some dishes/flavours that I'd never normally try - gnocchi, truffle, black pudding (won't be returning to that ingredient but at least I've tried it!). I really liked watching the demonstrations of the dishes and learning tips. The kitchen was equipped with everything we needed but agree with another comment above that there could do with about a foot more between the benches! It was good not to have to worry about washing equipment and just put it on the trolleys.
The coffee and pastries were great and the staff were so welcoming. The folder with recipies will be very useful too.

~ What was the most valuable tip you learnt on the day?

Rolling pastry between greaseproof paper is a great tip, and so is putting wet kitchen towel under choppping boards to stop them slipping! The whole ethos of the day (preparation is key to a good dish) is the best overall tip I think.

~ Which dish did you enjoy cooking the most and why? Do you think you will you cook any of these dishes again? Have you thought on any twists on the dishes you cooked that you'd like to try?

The best dish to cook was the starter, as I think it was the one where we had the most to do. I will absolutely be making it again and will be making and eating gnocchi whenever appropriate. I served macerated summer fruit (part of the dessert) the day after the course and it went down well with my parents. I can't wait to go through the recipies in the folder and make things.

~ Do you think you'd recommend a class at the Waitrose Cookery School to a friend or family member? If so, why? If not, why not?

I would recommend it, and several of my facebook friends have seen the pictures I took and asked about them already.

Other comments:

- The course started late and over ran by nearly an hour. Not great from the babysitter's perspective.
- I understand why certain elements of the dishes were made for us already. However I did come away feeling that I'd just 'assembled' dishes rather than cooked that much. Maybe that's Michelin level cooking for you?!
- I think the recipes should have the wine suggestions on them too.
- It would be nice to get some feedback on your dishes, not as harsh as Masterchef, but just some praise constructive criticism. Essentially you could have served up any old rubbish, as you were eating it!

DP and I had a fantastic day, thank you so much!

gybegirl Mon 14-May-12 22:01:06

One of my fave meal memories would have to be...
When I'd not been living with DP long and was generally renowned for being an absolutely appalling cook (I literally couldn't boil a potato), I decided to cook him some fancy valentines meal involving crab pancakes in a seafood sauce. The 'masterchef' sauce had about 30 ingredients including fried lobsters shells. It took me about 6 hours to make but it went remarkably well and tasted delicious.

I have improved (significantly) since those days!

JessCartandahorse Tue 15-May-12 08:58:38

I love homemade soup - I think my fouvourite was one made by a friend using butternut squash and cream - absolutely delicious with warm homemade rolls.

Presentation counts for a lot with dinner parties so I like something that carves well and looks decorative - like a beef Wellington, or a joint that has been flattened then roasted with other meat/cheese rolled up into it. And an excellent sauce makes a meal. We have a brilliant book by Michel Roux called "Sauces" that are pretty easy to make and taste fantastic.

I don't appreciate a healthy pudding at a dinner party (though I offer simple fruit salad for those on a diet). I love any combo of chocolate and cream. Lemon tart with fresh raspberries is good. Serving mini portions of three different puds helps the meal end with a bang. Doesn't have to be fancy _ Eton Mess always goes down well.

AustinPowers Tue 15-May-12 14:10:54

The last dinner party I went to was last NYE. There was no official starter due to canapes before sitting then the main was sea bass fillet on squashed potatoes with veg. Sounds simple but was absolutely delicious. I do think there needs to be a choice of desserts, my favourites would be something chocolately and gooey or summer berries with whipped cream.

Mmm, I think I feel a dinner party coming on, though the menu won't be quite as ambitious as in the OP here!

BigBadBear Tue 15-May-12 14:40:54

I'm so grateful that someone else is cooking for me that I always love anything at a dinner party! To be honest, I don't care what I'm served or how it looks as long as it tastes good, but given the current weather my current chosen three courses would be:

- some kind of pie (recently had an amazing steak and stilton pie, whichwould do nicely)
- a homely hot dessert (rhubarb crumble would be nice)
- an excellent and varied cheeseboard, with plenty of crackers and grapes.

No starter as I'm normally too full if I have one, whereas I can pick at a cheeseboard for hours grin

When I cook, I tend to stick to one type of food. So if I'm doing Indian:
- various bhajis with home made chutneys and pickles
- variety of curries, eg. tandoori chicken, mutter paneer, daal with nans, rice and raita
- mango sorbet.

Or for Mexican:
- guacamole, black beans and salsa with tortilla chips
- spinach and ricotta enchiladas (Thomasina Miers does a fantastic recipe)
- pancakes with salted caramel sauce, caramel nuts and ice cream.

Etc. I usually decide on a main then work out the other courses accordingly.

whattodoo Tue 15-May-12 15:08:22

I love spendng time preparing for dinner guests, but I'm a bit of an amateur cook, and tend not to tackle anything fancy or 'fine dining'.

If we have friends over, it tends to be pulled pork with roast pots and fresh veg followed by a fool-proof delia cheesecake.

My DP once spent a joyous afternoon making creme brulee, which were delicious.

Wigeon Tue 15-May-12 16:48:24

Thanks very much for picking me to go on the cookery course - my sister and I had a great time! smile

~ What did you enjoy most about the cookery masterclass? Was there anything that particularly stood out for you/your guest?

I enjoyed making everything I think. I was especially pleased to make such successful gnocchi as the only other time I tried to make them, they were a complete disaster!

~ What was the most valuable tip you learnt on the day?

Leave your pan warming without any oil in it, then put the oil in just before you want to fry something. Use a "chef's claw" grip when chopping things. Put things in odd numbers on a plate as that looks nicer than even numbers. How do do that kind of smear of puree that you get in posh restaurants, without it looking like, well, a messy smear.

~ Which dish did you enjoy cooking the most and why? Do you think you will you cook any of these dishes again? Have you thought on any twists on the dishes you cooked that you'd like to try?

I think I liked elements of all the dishes - especially the gnocchi in the starter, the croustillant in the main course and the tuille in the dessert. I will definitely cook some of these again.

I did wonder where the "Michelin star" element of the day was - although I definitely learnt some things about presentation, the skills I used were pretty much things which any decent cook knows (apart from the sous vide perhaps!) - I think I was expecting to learn some more technical things - either cooking techniques (foams and emulsions or something?) or more whizzy knife skills or something. I pretty much felt within my comfort zone in terms of the level of skill neede, and I don't think I'm a very technically accomplished cook.

~ Do you think you'd recommend a class at the Waitrose Cookery School to a friend or family member? If so, why? If not, why not?

I'd definitely recommend it, although I expect the usual prices are rather expensive...

Loved the little touches like real coffee and freshly baked pastries to start, and absolutely delicious iced real fruit squash (and iced water) available during the day. Like another poster, I was rather annoyed the day overran by at least an hour (having started late), not least because I was parked in the horrendously expensive 02 Centre nearby (as the Metropolitan line was closed for engineering works so I couldn't come on public transport), never mind needing to get back to my DDs.

Having said that, I really enjoyed the day and thank you again!

mrsseed Tue 15-May-12 17:57:21

I went on the waitrose cupcake course about a year ago. I could already cook a good cake, but now they are amazing and my friends are always asking me for them The school pta and rainbows have made lots of money from them too . The waitrose school was really well designed and equipped and the teachers made it such a fun day. It gave me the confidence to expand my repertoire with the tips given.
I loved it, I just have to decide which course to do next!

ICutMyFootOnOccamsRazor Tue 15-May-12 18:03:59

I've a few friends who are chefs <lucky> and have had some amazing dinners with them. A few favourites that are standing out in my mind:

Roast duck with passionfruit - so, so delicious
Barbecued butterflied leg of lamb with garlic and rosemary - rare and tasty
A whole roasted pig for a huge party once - it was cooking for about 2 days and was so tender it just fell apart
A wild mushroom lasagne that was a flavour explosion in the mouth
Sashimi made from a tuna that we caught while out for a day on a boat and ate about 40 minutes later
A rare Beef Wellington made from a huge piece of fillet is a bit dated, but actually is hard to beat on flavour

<Hungry>

maples Tue 15-May-12 18:24:25

I'm going to check out the cookery school now grin

zipzap Tue 15-May-12 22:01:19

Starters these days tend to be fairly non-existant; few dips and nibbles if pushed (or if I think I might be running late grin)

favourite main courses tend to be either very slow roasted garlic and rosemary lamb (got to be so soft it just falls to pieces, if it is a very hot day it can be done in the slow cooker thereby having the great advantage of leaving the kitchen nice and cool as the oven isn't on), or massive selection of assorted tapas type things (particularly useful if there is a mixture of veggies/non-veggies, people with allergies/intolerances etc as everybody can just eat what they want)

most favourite pudding I ever had at a dinner party was a wondrous dark chocolate and red wine sorbet - heavenly combination

If I'm cooking then it is often something like indulgent brownies with boozy griotte cherries or special fruit salad, cream and ice cream (again, works well for providing lots of different options from healthy fruit to heavy duty choccy/booze fix if there is a variety of guests)>

If it is Christmas then my mum still makes me a bowl of oranges in mandarin napoleon liqueur, which is a bowl of about 20 oranges cut into segments, all the skin and pith and separator bits cut off, in a sauce that is a little bit of sugar syrup and a lot of mandarin napoleon liqueur. There's usually enough for a few days, it gets topped up with more oranges and liqueur over that time too. Goes really well with lots of other puddings to provide a boozy fruity edge (you might be seeing a theme developing here...) as well as on its own. lasts for ages (assuming you don't keep picking at it and having big bowlfuls which is a problem) and is particularly good as breakfast oranges on Boxing Day morning (assuming you are not driving anywhere grin.

~ What did you enjoy most about the cookery masterclass? Was there anything that particularly stood out for you/your guest?

The day was good fun, I felt the instructors went out of their way to put us at our ease, and we laughed a lot. They were all very experienced at the dishes.

~ What was the most valuable tip you learnt on the day?

That the twile for the desert was very easy to manipulate if heated up, as many times as required.

~ Which dish did you enjoy cooking the most and why? Do you think you will you cook any of these dishes again? Have you thought on any twists on the dishes you cooked that you'd like to try?

I really enjoyed making the starter, as I had never made gnocchi before and again I found it easy as the instructions were very clear. The lemon tart was very good as well and his tip on heating the mixture slightly to create an emulsion which would help stop it splitting was very helpfull.

~ Do you think you'd recommend a class at the Waitrose Cookery School to a friend or family member? If so, why? If not, why not

Absolutely, the staff were lovely and very accomodating, the food was great and the wine served with each course was lovely. The level it was pitched at was just about right, although I personally would have like to do a bit more of the prep myself but I understood the time constraints. I would reccommend it to people for a special treat and a real day out of the rat race!

My thanks to mumsnet for selecting me grin

OldBagWantsNewBag Wed 16-May-12 22:50:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Parrish Wed 16-May-12 23:12:41

My best dinner party dishes have always been BBQ! a butterflied leg of lamb laid out on the grill had everyone asking for seconds. The starter was prawns on skewers after marinating them in coconut and lime. Then pudding was chocolate brownies, made with coffee, and creme fraiche. Then cheese. Bring it inside if you must!

ProfCoxWouldGetIt Thu 17-May-12 09:47:30

My fail safe dinner party menu is wild game terrine in winter or pidgeon breast salad (lightly fry the breasts and allow to stand for at least 10 minutes then serve with a mixed greens salad (rocket, cress, lambs leaf etc) and either a orange and honey dressing or chilli (depending on your guests)

Mains is normally a Slow cooked lamb shank - tin of chopped tomatoes, a glass of wine, a jar of cheap mint sauce, brown the shanks with some finally chopped onions and shove it in the over on a low temperature for at least 2 hours (sauce can be reduced, but guests seem to really like mopping it up with some fresh baked bread)

Dessert is always a lemon compote - super easy mix one tub of creme freiche and one jar of lemon curd, put in pretty little ramekins (thanks gu) and shove in the freezer - take out as you're serving the mains so the soften a little.

My best dinner party menus are...

Winter

Starter - A thick Pumpkin soup with nice crust bread
Main - Venison and Juniper Casserole, slow cooked with Mash and braised Cabbage, bacon and Shallots.
Dessert - A zingy and light Lemon mousse with Shortbread.

Spring/Summer

Starter - Asparagus with crispy bacon and Hollandaise sauce on top of a soft poached egg.
Main - Sticky slow cooked chicken thighs, baked with new potatoes and tomatoes with plenty of olive oil, red wine vinegar and Oregano, served with a huge green salad and crusty warm baguettes.
Dessert - Home-made Pistachio Ice cream in a Cookie cup.

I make a mean fig and toffee tart, it's easier than it looks.
Make shortcrust pastry and squidge it into a flan dish, cook sugar and butter in roughly equal amounts until it goes gooey and brown.
Halve baby figs and lay them all over the base of the pastry, seeds up, pour over the toffee, bake 200C 25 mins.

birdsofshoreandsea Thu 17-May-12 12:04:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

beachhutbetty Thu 17-May-12 15:38:00

I always make a cold starter which can be prepared in advance - caramelised onion tartlets (with or without goat cheese), homemade mushroom or mackerel pate, tomato tartlet etc.
Main - Spinach and ricotta either as ravioli or lasagna (homemade pasta) with a simple tomato sauce (canned toms, onion, garlic & fresh herbs) served with green beans, peas, broad beans, asparagus and/or salad depending what looks nice and fresh. Or monkfish, sea bass etc with the above veggies/salad and new potatoes
Pudding - Something chocolately and something fruity to cater for all tastes. I always serve cheese too.

I love entertaining but my biggest trick learnt over time is to prepare starter and pudding before hand so you just need to worry about the main course. Oh and have an empty dishwasher ready to take all the plates etc!

I don't really have a favourite dish but I love clean tasting, simple things. I prefer starters and mains and love fish but don't often serve it at dinner parties unless I know my guests like fish too.

HannahLI Thu 17-May-12 15:40:29

My best dish has to be profiteroles or strawberry pavlova! My husband makes a great roast chicken with all of the trimmings and my sister makes a great caramalised onion and cheese tablet,in combination we host a cracking dinner!

CelticPromise Thu 17-May-12 18:15:26

My favourite dinner party food would be some sort of slow roasted meat that you can prepare ahead and ignore all day. The merguez spiced slow roasted lamb shoulder from River Cottage Everyday is brilliant, or another H F-W one pork Donnie Brasco. I also make a mean seafood laksa. Veg from the garden would be ideal if it's the right time of year.

For a starter... maybe a pate or terrine, or some sort of salad, there is a Gordon Ramsay beetroot and blue cheese one I have made a lot.

Pudding... well that's not my department. DH does an amazing honey and almond cake (thanks H F-W again) or if we're being posh, panna cotta.

blue2 Thu 17-May-12 18:52:00

My mouth is watering sooooo much!

My starters would be either -
Thai beetroot soup or Home made gravadlax with soda bread

Mains - slow roasted shoulder of lamb - kleftico style, pot roasted venison haunch or a joint of pork from our own pigs with serious crackling. Veg from the garden as much as poss.

Pudding - Baked alaska (Thank you Nigella) or "Deconstructed Black Forest cake" - aka H/made brownies, cherries, whipped cream and ice cream all passed around the table.

Time to get some invites out!

megabored Thu 17-May-12 19:02:50

so if you didn't attend please add your own comments on your favourite dinner party dishes - what's the best dish you've either made for or been served at a dinner party.

I suppose it has been comfort food now I look back. Delicious simple food. Vegetable lasagnia followed by tiramasu. Or Thai Green Currey followed by some ice cream. The wine has flowed and late night conversations. That has been the best bit. Where the food has been fussy, it has been rather a boring night.

NotaDisneyMum Thu 17-May-12 19:33:52

My very own signature dish is sirloin steak with a blue cheese crumb on a bed of buttered cabbage and bacon.

That might out me because I cooked it in a local 'Masterchef' style live final in a demonstration kitchen in front of an audience - who all taste-tested it at the end! There are some fabulous pictures of the DCs tucking in backstage afterwards, too grin

Katz Thu 17-May-12 19:38:25

My favourite dinner party menu to serve:

Starter - open lasagne with garlic bruschetta (which is just fresh lasagne pasta cut into 1inch strips and boiled for 2 min, with a tomato sauce and parmesan shavings)
Main - Mozzarella beef wraps (subbed with aubergine for veggie guests) served with garlic roasted new pots and green salad
Dessert - chocolate mousse

I have a friend (hulababy) who is an amazing cook she makes the nicest main courses. I think my favourites would have to be:

sticky scallops with egg fried ice and chinese style greens
burgers and double fried chips
salmon with dill and cucumber

Wombat33 Thu 17-May-12 21:17:09

Best quick and easy dinner party dish that tastes great is fish pie made with king prawns, smoked haddock and cod in a creme fraiche and wholegrain mustard sauce and topped with mashed potato and grated mature cheddar. Heavenly.

turnipvontrapp Thu 17-May-12 22:02:48

Anything simple, lasagne, beef and mushroom pie, chicken with goats cheese wrapped in parma ham.

The easier the better, then you aren't stuck in the kitchen all night whilst everyone else is having a great time!

I am giving evil envyenvy faces to all who attended. It should have been me!

That aside, my best best dinner party dish is lemon posset. I make the Nigel Slater version, served in martini glasses. People love, love, love it.

And soused halibut with dill vodka shots for the fish course!grin

helterskelter99 Fri 18-May-12 08:24:41

My favourite dinner party menus are always things that can be prepared prior to guests arriving so it looks like everything is effortless.

Starters - nuts / dips / nibbles or smoked slamon & prawns, simple
Main course - Nigella's beef with anchovies always goes down well even though no one likes anchovies
Chicken in parma ham with a spread of pesto in the middle is another simple dish with dalphounoise pots & green veg. Just a little bit different
Pudding - I am renowned for Nigella's chocolate deserts - like the ones in the M&S advert.. people get upset if I don't serve them lol!

The best recipe for a great dinner party in my opinion is great friends, lots of wine & being relaxed

klaxon Fri 18-May-12 09:24:19

I am famous for my chocolate truffles 50g butter (salted), 300 ml double cream, 300g very good dark chocolate. 100g dark chocolate to coat.

Melt chocolate and the 300ml cream and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of water (DO NOT ALLOW CHOCOLATE TO GET WET). Stir till smooth. Put in fridge to set. Use melon baller to scoop out. Set on greaseproof paper in fridge. Dunk in the other melted chocolate when set (again set on greaseproof paper).

When you have made the cream/choc butter mixture you can add other flavours, popular are whisky, irish cream or cardamon and cloves (seriously, really nice).

My supper guests often forget the main courses but they all ask for my truffles at the end.

But I tend to make vast vats of curry and serve them in heated table trays so people can help themselves. Can't abide stacked up fussy food, would rather people relaxed and had what they liked.

I don't drink but I always make sure there is plenty of wine on the table and encourage people to serve themselves drinks.

BIWItheBold Fri 18-May-12 09:38:35

I love cooking for dinner parties, but I have found that I'm increasingly cooking simpler things these days. Back in the 80s, the Yuppie days, it was much more complicated - and generally all about showing off! I used to buy an incredibly poncey, foody magazine called A La Carte, which had ridiculous things in it. One of them, which I did cook, was green and white tagliatelle that you wove together to create a square, which was then filled with mozzarella in a garlicky tomato sauce. You folded the pasta square around the filling, so that you had a pretty green and white woven parcel on your plate. Was really, really fiddly, as the pasta is very sticky and starchy, but it look brilliant on the plate!

I like to do 'trios' of things occasionally, so for a starter I have done a small plate of mushroom risotto, mushroom pate and a stuffed mushroom. Or a platter of three different pates - a cream cheese and chive pate, a lentil and tomato pate and a pea puree. It's as much about the presentation as it is about the flavours, and that looks really pretty with the white/orange and green - garnished with the ever-trendy pea shoots.

My last dinner party was:

Roasted tomato and fennel soup with black olive ciabatta (and Waitrose Brittany butter with sea salt crystals!)
Roasted cod, on a bed of Puy lentils, with lardons and garlic, with a green salad
Lemon posset, with orange polenta biscuits (zaletti), or a platter of berries with extra thick double cream

iwantavuvezela Fri 18-May-12 11:03:23

I hope you dont mind, but I "stole" my favourite dinner party menu from one of your (ready prepared type) meals.

Salmon fillets, topped with feta, fresh mint, splash of olive oil and in the oven for 20 minutes. The feta melts only a little, and that against the pinkish salmon and mint looks lovely

then served with steamed spinach and either sweet potatoe mash or mash.

looks and tastes delicious and barely takes 20 minutes to cook, and about 10 minutes preparation.

I melted some chocolate the other day, dipped in strawberries, and they look lovely for dessert. None left at the end

i also like serving some cheese/biscuits etc

zipzap Fri 18-May-12 14:02:07

I'd forgotten to mention my hot chocolate sauce which comes out Whenever I have guests and never fails to impress. Best thing is that it is so easy, can be made in advance and if there is any left it lasts well in the fridge unless you scoop a fingertip out each time you open the fridge, for quality control issues obviously grin blush

You need:
a large bar of bournville (yes this is 70s recipe, but 200-250g of any nice dark chocolate works equally as well)
Butter - walnut sized knob of salted butter
Honey - a good squirt/couple of spoonfuls to taste (depends On how much you like honey as to whether you use teaspoons or table spoons!)
Small carton of double cream (approx 150-200ml of double cream)

Melt the chocolate, butter and honey - either slowly in the microwave (it can catch and scorch if you do it too high or for too long) or in a bowl over boiling water, making sure no water gets in or it will all turn into a flabby lump that's hard to rescue)

Once it's done, slowly add the cream and mix well - let the choc mix cool a little and don't add lots of the cream all at once if it's really cold, just drizzle it in to start with, stirring well as you go. stir until all the cream is mixed in, try it to check for taste.

And that's it. It's ready. It's a very flexible forgiving recipe - bit less cream, bit more honey, splash of liqueur, however you like it and however if fits with the sizes ingredients come in/you have around.

And if you do have any left, keep it in the fridge and it can be turned into truffles (by rolling balls in cocoa powder or dipping in melted chocolate etc) if you don't want to melt it again to put on ice cream...

ShatnersBassoon Fri 18-May-12 15:50:06

I only make things that can be prepared in advance and that can sit in a low over until everything ready. I like being served that sort of dish too, because it means you get to spend plenty of time with the host and they're relaxed.

I like a cheese board too, so people can have a little snack long after the meal is over. Put plenty of oat cakes, mixed biscuits, chilli jam, grapes with it and everyone can have supper to soak up some of the booze before heading home.

BlastOff Sat 19-May-12 12:11:42

My favourite dinner party components - I don't necessarily do this whole menu altogether but:

starter : grilled halloumi with lime and coriander dressing

main : either a whole salmon stuffed with smoked trout and a caper/mayonnaise dressing or

(70s favourite but everyone always loves it and asks for the recipe!) chicken tarragon with wild rice with pine nuts or

lemon spaghetti with rocket

pud : pavolva with red berries or

pannacotta with rhubarb

or I agree a good local cheese board or just one cheese, like a large brie always go down well.

I'd love to go on a Waitrose cookery course, but as usual these things are only ever in London sad

peggyblackett Sat 19-May-12 17:24:11

For me it is :

Scallops for the starter

Pumpkin and goats cheese lasagne for the main course

Summer pudding or chocolate mousse for pudding (season dependent)

I should not have read this thread, I am starving!

ceeveebee Sat 19-May-12 18:23:12

iwantavuvezela, we copied the salmon ready-meal too, its my DH's signature only dish!

I don't have dinner parties as such but often have friends round for sunday lunch, I love roast pork and I do excellent crackling mmm! Always have a stodgy pudding with custard afterwards

nah1974 Sat 19-May-12 20:14:39

Homemade pea soup with a poached egg floating on a 'raft' of crispy parma ham is a good starter: easy to do, cheap, doesn't require too much last minute faffing around! Plus it looks much more impressive than it really issmile

I like to follow with something that everyone can dig into at the table like a big pot of beouf bourginon with homemade bread

StillSquiffy Mon 21-May-12 10:39:11

Dishing out the gossip definitely trumps the food at any dinner party, but the very very best dish for a dinner party is Vietnamese Beef Salad.

It's not the most spectacular thing you can possibly eat (but it is great), and it's not the best dish simply because it stops conversation (even though it does). The reasons it's the best dinner party dish are:-

1) you can serve it as a starter, winter or summer
2) You can serve it as a mains with seasonal sides. At the moment I would serve it for a supper party with Jersey royals and asparagus.
3) you can prepare it all hours in advance, then simply warm the beef for 30 seconds before combining everything and serving
4) It requires virtually no cooking skills (other than being able to cook a steak rare)
5) You can keep a steak in the freezer and all the other ingredients except the salad itself can be bought in advance and kept as kitchen staples.
6) You can vary the dish to suit whatever salad vegetables are in your fridge (or your local supermarket). There is no hard and fast rule for what goes in the salad other than that the ingredients be fresh. You don't even need beef - I have successfully varied it with Tuna, Chicken and Duck.
7) The dish contains no simple carbs and is low fat. Yet even men like it, despite these facts....

MrsMicawber Mon 21-May-12 10:43:53

I don't like it when an hors douvres is too heavy.

My favourite that always goes down well is a salad of cubed avocados with cherry tomatoes and rocket, topped with 3 rolls of smoked salmon. Dress with balsamic vinegar, a little salt and a little garlic.

ComradeJing Mon 21-May-12 14:41:32

The day sounds brilliant. I'll have a look online as I think my DSM would love it for her birthday.

Best dinner party dishes:

Cheeses, cured meats, pâté, dips, bread and biscuits to start. I just set it out in the living room and people dig in as they fancy. Much easier than dealing with timings and getting mains on.

Roast lamb with cauliflower cheese, sprouts, roast onions, roast potatoes, peas, honey carrots, and steamed greens.

Apple and blackberry crumple. Add a good glug of a peaty whiskey before cooking.

It's all real comfort food and people are always impressed because most don't have ovens or dont cook so it feels like a real treat.

Other great dinner party was serving tacos with home made guacamole and salsa plus sour cream, cheese and lettuce. Everyone loved it and devoured the lot. Sounds so in glam I know but it just worked.

Elkieb Mon 21-May-12 16:36:20

I love cooking good homemade traditional British food so my favourite dinner to make for friends has to be a beef roast dinner on a Sunday afternoon with all the trimmings- the meat has to be rare, the potatoes have to be Maris pipers so crunchy and fluffy, loads of veg, stuffing, yorkshire puddings. For pudding my special-only once or twice a year- rhubarb and ginger crumble with proper vanilla custard. Officially feeling hungry now!

3littlerabbits Mon 21-May-12 16:55:09

This threads making me hungry...

My best dinner party is a mezze selection with hummous, pitta, grilled haloumi, olives and a whole selecyion of little bowls of tasty things - yum!

BIWItheBold Mon 21-May-12 16:55:43

Most don't have ovens? Really?!

wesolutka Mon 21-May-12 18:13:30

So many lovely ideas here!

My dinner party menu (suits summer or winter depending on the accompaniments):
Starter: beetroot & goat's cheese salad made with whatever pretty leaves I can find (rocket, pea shoots...)
Main: chicken pieces done in a tomato, chorizo and butter bean sauce. Served with potatoes and greens if winter, or hunks of crusty bread if al fresco!
Dessert: would serve a platter of fruit, cheese & biscuits - something there for appetites of all sizes smile

It needn't cost a lot - look for special offers on e.g. salad leaves, and use canned tomatoes and butter beans, supermarket own brand chicken/chorizo, etc. etc. Scrummy!

bebemoojem Mon 21-May-12 21:17:28

Personally I love doing:
Avocado Bacon Salad starter
3min beef sirloins with fresh carrots and beans and sautéed asparagus and bacon.
For dessert I like making white and milk chocolate swirl cheesecake (using the cream cheese based recipe for ease) with a chocolate bourbon crushed biscuit base.

Everyone always croons and every thing is so easy to make you could make it everyday.

FourThousandHoles Mon 21-May-12 21:22:53

Sorry, been meaning to add my thoughts for a few days but have been away. THanks so much for choosing me, my friend and I had a really wonderful day.

~ What did you enjoy most about the cookery masterclass? Was there anything that particularly stood out for you/your guest?
The organisation was amazing, it seemed to be a very well oiled machine indeed. The staff were all very friendly and the tone of the demonstrations was just right, not patronising but not boring or cheffy either.
~ What was the most valuable tip you learnt on the day?
Oh god loads - rolling out pastry between two sheets of baking parchment, slicing an orange on a slant to juice it, re-warming the tuille if it started to cool before you'd finished moulding it.
~ Which dish did you enjoy cooking the most and why? Do you think you will you cook any of these dishes again? Have you thought on any twists on the dishes you cooked that you'd like to try?
The starter was fun, looked very impressive on the plate but was quite easy to do. I enjoyed cooking all three courses.
~ Do you think you'd recommend a class at the Waitrose Cookery School to a friend or family member? If so, why? If not, why not?
Without a doubt I wouldrecommend it.

There was a couple of negatives, only minor points - the timing was a bit off, started late and finished really late meaning my friend had to rush back to catch her train. ALso there wasn't a lot of room between some of the stations and I am not a small person

Dinner party....
Starter - Red onion tarte tatin with a parmesan crisp
Main - steak with horseradish mash and steamed veg
Desert - spiced plum cheesecake

spendthrift Mon 21-May-12 22:24:46

Best starters, lettuce soup with creme fraiche, selection of Mediterranean starters, mushroom soup with nutmeg and sherry.

Best mains, poached salmon with garlic hollandaise sauce, chicken casseroled with chopped walnuts and pomegranate juice (faisanjan), vegetarian Lebanese stew with seasonal veg in a saffron and tomato sauce.

Best puddings, syrup sponge with cream, apricot creme brulee, meringue nests with cream and pureed mangos or raspberries.

alibubbles Mon 21-May-12 22:38:59

Best main, quick and easy and very impressive, Waitrose Sea bass fillets, pan fried in the butter that comes with it on Waitrose asparagus risotto from the frozen cabinet, add fresh asparagus for effect!

No mess, no prep, fast and yum!

Avver Tue 22-May-12 08:12:43

My most successful dinner parties (if you can call them that, I don't as it makes me feel like I'm my mum in 1986..) have been on the casual side but with amazing quality food. I don't do fancy individually plated food but rather put loads of dishes out and let people dig in. Much more convivial.

Tapas is brilliant for this and having lots of dishes neatly swerves the problem of people not liking the one main dish served.

Kidneys in sherry, salmon in saffron, fresh grilled sardines, lamb skewers, paprika butterbean stew, patatas bravas and tortilla etc is a good mix of dishes that can be prepared in advance and on the day, plus good olives and bread.

Waitrose are great for this sort of menu, by the way!

Avver Tue 22-May-12 08:13:35

My most successful dinner parties (if you can call them that, I don't as it makes me feel like I'm my mum in 1986..) have been on the casual side but with amazing quality food. I don't do fancy individually plated food but rather put loads of dishes out and let people dig in. Much more convivial.

Tapas is brilliant for this and having lots of dishes neatly swerves the problem of people not liking the one main dish served.

Kidneys in sherry, salmon in saffron, fresh grilled sardines, lamb skewers, paprika butterbean stew, patatas bravas and tortilla etc is a good mix of dishes that can be prepared in advance and on the day, plus good olives and bread.

Waitrose are great for this sort of menu, by the way!

gingercat12 Tue 22-May-12 13:47:55

My friend cooked coq-au-vin for us. I loved her recipe so much that I use it to this day.

mckenzie Tue 22-May-12 16:13:54

I think salmon with a peccorino cheese, breadcrumbs and pesto topping is the best I've ever served. It's easy to make beforehand, it doesn't take long to cook but it looks lovely on the plate. Served with baby new potatoes and green beans the whole plate looks colourful and appealing.

HarrogateMum Tue 22-May-12 16:43:51

My favourite dishes to cook would be:

Starter: either a dish of very simple smoked salmon on a bed of grated fresh beetroot with creme fraiche, or a lovely crab and smoked salmon starter that is basically chopped avocado and lemon juice pushed into the bottom of a cooking ring, followed by a layer of crab and cream cheese, dill and tabasco mixed togethr, followed by smoked salmon layered on top, all on a bed of rocket. Very clean fresh flavours.

Alternatively if I'm doing fish as a main I might do a tart of some sort on a bed of rocket - so caramelised onion and blue cheese, or red onion and goats cheese.

Main: I do a nice lamb dish with the lamb fillets that you can only seem to get in Waitrose (well of course butchers will do them but other supermarkets don't seem to). I roll the fillets in herbs such as tarragon, parsley etc and then flash fry them before putting them in the oven for about 10 minutes to cook so they are nice and pink in the middle. I serve them with either dauphinoise or a fondant potato each which is time consuming to make but ooooohhhhh so delicious and again can be done in advance and rewarmed before the meal. I make a nice jus with a simple bit of lamb stock, tomato puree, thyme and some butter whisked in to give it a nice glaze!

If I fancy fish I do a nice stuffed monkfish wrapped in parma ham. You whizz up pine nuts and garlic and olive oil and stuff them in the monkfish, wrap in parma ham and cook! Nice with parmentier potatoes and herby creme fraiche.

Pudding: Either a tart (if not done one for starter), make a mean plum and frangipane one, or a meringue roulade with loads of raspberries and cream!

not sure I'm posh enough to use the word 'dinner party' but when we have friends over, my tried and tested:

starter: scallops with sweet chilli sauce and creme fraiche. char grill the scallops. green leaves on plate with creme fraiche at 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock. sweet thai chilli sauce at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock. serve with crusty bread.

salmon with strawberry salsa. either bake salmon or fry. serve with strawberry salsa (strawberries, coriander, red onion and lots of lime juice).

LulaPalooza Wed 23-May-12 01:09:16

Heavens to Betsy, I love this thread. I am a fatty foodie and LOVE cooking and eating.

I am BEYOND jealous of those that got to go on the course, but I didn't enter as I was too freaked by the idea of being filmed.

So many great ideas and posts on this thread, but a few that I really need to respond to...

CMOTDibbler - can I please come over to yours for an early dinner then we can scoff some raclette at 11-ish with some nice red wine?! Or perhaps we could head over to BornSicky's after?

MakeTeaNotWar - am so jealous that your DH is a butcher! Mine brings home some amazing leftovers from work (event manager) plus booze, so we live a champagne and fillet steak lifestyle without the cash. I would love a man who knows his meat (fnar)

Comradejing - am intrigued by the slug of peaty whisky in cumble. Thanks for the tip!

I tend to cook homefood rather than fine food. Recent experiments that went down well include pulled pork (with my own homemade BBQ sauce made with a really smoky single malt), southern fried chicken, gammon in cola (pimped up version of a Nigella recipe, with more spice). Not all at the same meal, obv.

I think I might have lived in the southern States in a former life.

If doing scallops I serve them with a vodka tomato salsa.

I really like cooking roast dinner (slow cooked lamb or garlicky lemon chicken with tarragon), but my favourite meal to cook is breakfast:

Scrambled eggs with smoked bacon OR fried eggs with chorizo and strawberry salsa ...

Served with baked portobello mushroom, oven roasted cherry tomatoes (roasted with garlic, herbs and a shitload of butter), home made hash browns or crumpies.

Omnomnomnomnom...

Sorry this is so long. I am a Food Tart.

The best dinner party dish I have had/made is scallops with rocket, black pudding and squeeze of lemon to start. Beef Wellington as main with various veg and spuds and chocolate tart for pudding. Always goes down well.

In summer a big berry pavlova always looks nice, pain to cut and serve as it tends to get a tad messy but very tasty.

Glabella Tue 29-May-12 16:46:50

Our biggest dinner party success is my husband's risotto- chicken and spinach with lashings of butter and white wine in it, and parmesan on top. It is amazing!

We usually do tapas type dishes for starters- mozzarella and tomato salad, pate and flatbreads, feta and spinach spring rolls.

Eton mess always goes down well for dessert (is often meant to have been a pavlova, but our friends seem to like the failed version better).

cherryjellow Wed 30-May-12 10:45:38

sweet potato gratin was nice
I always love ham hoc home made soup for starter
chocolate mouse with sticky orange caramel

Ive only been to one dinner party though :/

nipitinthebud Wed 30-May-12 11:17:09

I love planning and preparing dinner parties and tend to choose things that can be done ahead of time so that its not too frantic once friends arrive (plus....the amount of wine I consume is inversely proportional to the quality and care of the food - so best to have something that doesn't need anything much doing to it).

My favs are:

Starter -

Good Housekeeping Roasted asparagus with a shallot vinegrette and Parmesan
Or
Delia's Piedmont Roasted peppers, but without the anchovies and with goats cheese or toms and mushrooms if pg
OR
Nigel Slater's baked goats cheese, honey and thyme wrapped in puff pastry

Main -
Crunchy pesto chicken (chicken smeared with garlic butter topped with breadcrumbs, smoked lardons, parsley and grated parmesan, baked in the oven with a pesto sauce made of cream with a couple of tbsp pesto sauce in it. But old fashionedly calorific and heavy but delish)
OR
Delia's Roast Duck with Sour Cherry Sauce (sauce can be done ahead, and roasting is just bunging it in the oven)
OR
Poussin with a creme fraice and pesto mix under the skin and topped with a couple of bits of proscuitto. Roasted with splosh of vino.
OR
Coq au vin

Pud -
Mary Berry's Divine Lemon Pots (served in tiny coffee cups)
OR
White choc and Bailey's cheesecake (if very special occassion or if I like the guests muchly)

Or go chinese and have:
Won Ton soup, yuk Soong, Ginger chicken, some garlicky pak choi and fried rice, then a scoop of Waitrose Coconut and lime ice cream, scoop of Mango sorbet and some pineapple

If its just me and DH we have:
Starter -
baked garlic mushrooms in butter
OR
garlic, chilli prawns

Main -
Steak and stilton

No pud

noo1985 Wed 30-May-12 16:41:47

I have never held a dinner party, but alweays wanted to do it.
Think if I were to hold one I would have to pick my favourite dishes to serve to everyone. Which would be:

Cream of winter vegetable soup
Lasagne with garlic bread on the side
Profiteroles

Not the most extravagant of menus but I don't care, its what I like to eat so everyone else can enjoy it with me to lol.

fallingandlaughing Fri 01-Jun-12 09:57:04

I think the key to cooking for a dinner aprty is making something that doesn't have to be poked at and tended to just before serving. Much better to whip something out the oven and spend more time with your guests. Stifado is great for that, nice made with venison, lamb or beef and served with roast potatoes, rice and salad. Anytime I have made the Nigella Easter Cake (not just at Easter) it has gone down a treat but I'm going to pinch some ideas off this thread as DD is allergic to egg, we need some new ideas she can join in with!

TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 07-Jun-12 14:39:47

Thank you to everyone who has posted on this thread and all those who went along to the cookery school event - we hope you enjoyed the day!

I'm pleased to announce that the winner of the £100 Waitrose.com voucher is...

HarrogateMum

Congratulations! I'll PM you to get your details.

PseudoBadger Tue 13-Nov-12 23:09:50

Does anyone know if the video ever got made and posted anywhere? Do asked me tonight if he was famous yet grin

TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 19-Nov-12 16:29:12

Good question Pseudo - I'll ask and get back to you

PseudoBadger Mon 19-Nov-12 16:32:14

Thank you! And obviously *DP asked me not Do... grin

PseudoBadger Mon 10-Dec-12 15:43:24

Any update TheOtherHelen?

TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 11-Dec-12 13:06:59

I've got the link to the video - just checking whether I can post it here or not - bear with please!

TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 11-Dec-12 13:13:08

Here's the link to the video from the day - looks like you all had a great time - the food looks delish!!

amp-london.com/videos/waitrose/waitroseIndex.html

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