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What was the best dinner party you ever hosted?!

(22 Posts)
PARunnerGirl Tue 13-Nov-18 20:03:40

I always have the same close family (adult) members over for dinner on Christmas Eve. I know it’s still weeks away but I love food/ eating planning! There are only ever 5 or 6 of us and so I like to do something special. Several (not massive!) courses, paired wines, cheese course and all that good stuff! My family don’t do Christmas gifts between the adults and I feel that this is a really nice way of treating loved ones and spending time together.

I’ve done all sorts of things and usually there is some sort of theme (usually sticking to a specific national cuisine).

Does anyone have any ideas or would like to share what they made for what they humbly consider as their best ever dinner party? smile

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RockingMyFiftiesNot Wed 14-Nov-18 19:20:44

Was excited to read this thread, sorry you've had no responses.
The best dinner parties to me are those where you manage to find simple but impressive looking food. Being able to prep ahead, and planning for it to look brilliant, while spending as much time as possible with guests.
My favourite starter was home made gravadlax, is started a couple of days before. I sliced it thinly and served with a small Russian salad.
My favourite mains have been en croutes - salmon (obviously not in the same meal as the gravadlax); beef Wellington; pork fillet en croute.
Desserts - I like a combination of a cake, fruit and a home made ice cream. My favourite was a moist lemon and almond cake, with lemon meringue ice cream, and blueberries in a lemon curd and gin sauce.
Hope this bumps for some more ideas

PARunnerGirl Thu 15-Nov-18 09:57:02

Thank you @RockingMyFiftiesNot ! That dessert sounds delicious. I also agree that prepping ahead and not feeling stressed on the night is the way to go!

I also love en croute recipes. My mum makes THE best salmon en croute! I actually did beef wellington last year which was good but I feel the bottom was a bit soggy (pardon the pun!)

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caperplips Thu 15-Nov-18 15:04:08

We host a lot, sometimes for just 4 in total, sometimes up to 20..depends.

I find making a much in advance as possible works for me as then I can concentrate on the guests. We cook a lot of Italian and French I suppose.

recent dinners have been:

Dinner for 12
Coktail on arrival: kir royale
hors d'oeuvre: melon & parma ham (bite size), olives, parmesan crisps,
Starter: seafood pasta (white fish, garlic, white wine, butter, parsley
Main: Italian chicken parcels, garlic & rosemary cubed roast potatoes, green salad with mozzarella pearls, foccacia
Dessert: tiramisu, chocolate meringues with raspberries and cream
LOADS of nice wine / tea / coffee

Small dinner for 4:
cocktail on arrival - prosecco with spiced pear and ginger syrup
hors d'oeuvre: olives, tiny red peppers stuffed with ricotta
Starter: caramelised red onion & goats cheese puff pastry tarts with pear and walnut salad
Main: beef bourguignon, creamy mash, green beens with lemon and garlic
Dessert: lemon tart with berries / winter pavlova

Dinner for 8
Cocktail: bakewell (processo, amaretti and black cherries in Kirsch)
hors d'oeuvre: olives / salami / parma ham
starter: mini sticky cherry tomato tarts & salad
Main: Italian beef olives, tagliatelle, salad
dessert: italian amaretto chocolate mousse

I love planning (and eating nice dinners!!)
Your gathering sounds fabulous and we do similar over the holidays

maxelly Thu 15-Nov-18 16:09:22

Ooh great inspiration thread! Agree with everyone else that whilst it's lovely to make a big effort with the food, I need to not overstretch myself as the least successful parties have been when I've been stuck in the kitchen sweating all night, snapping at DH (my sous chef!), not allowing any guests into the kitchen to talk to me lest they see the chaos etc! Also I have learnt that if you provide plenty of drink and snacks this will cover up pretty much any deficiency in your cooking... and not to be ashamed of using some ready made stuff to cut corners. I recently discovered that a relative from DH's family who has been (apparently) effortlessly catering for unfeasibly enormous crowds with delicious home-cooked food has for years been sourcing at least 50% of her menu from a local restaurant and then simply decanting it into her own serving platters - no wonder she is always immaculate and unstressed - I'd been trying to find out how she manages it for ages and now I know I'm a bit disappointed to find its all been an illusion! But hey everyone always has a great time at her house and loves the food so why not?

My favourite starters all involve fish in some way,. smoked salmon/gravadlax, hot cured mackerel, prawn cocktail, potted crab! Sadly many people don't share my fishy love so I also like starters which involve cheese like baked camembert or goats cheese, or mezze type platters involving feta parcels, baba ganoush, hummus etc often go down well.

For mains for a small group e.g. just my parents I really like to cook a game bird as main course, e.g. a guinea fowl, duck, goose as the amount is usually just right for 5-6 people. Game can also work well for a bigger crowd e.g. venison stew, rabbit casserole, game pie. I like it because it's something that most people don't have everyday but isn't too challenging for fussy eaters or difficult to prepare- sides can be classic potatos+veg for the most part to keep things simple. I also do a slowed cooked shoulder of lamb which goes down a treat, and for more feed-a-crowd type dinners have a range of persian stews which mainly are for the benefit of my non-Persian friends and family (persian ILs like them too but recognise the deficiencies of my persian cooking!), e.g. lamb with herbs, lime and kidney beans (ghormeh sabzi), lamb with tomato and auberinge (khoresh bardemjan), chicken pomegranate and walnut stew (fesenjan).

Puddings are definately in the make before hand or buy in categories for me, I like a tiramisu, a steamed chocolate or ginger pudding or a cheesecake best as they are failsafe!

PARunnerGirl Thu 15-Nov-18 23:56:41

Right, I think you lot have convinced me to try making gravadlax for the first time and go with that as my starter! The other option is Rick Steins Sarde a Beccafico (cold/ room temp stuffed sardines) which I always think of as kind of special and Christmas-y.

@maxelly I absolutely LOVE Middle Eastern food but had a Jordanian theme for a recent dinner party which a few of these people were at. Intrigued to try some of your Persian main course suggestions.

I’m a thinking about Nigella’s ham cooked in cola as a main! Anyone done it before? I think potatoes dauphinoise and braised red cabbage/ apple might be nice with it?

Dessert unsure but something lemony after the richness of the ham... maybe a lemon tart as @caperplips suggests.

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RockingMyFiftiesNot Fri 16-Nov-18 07:20:30

Gravadlax is honestly so simple and impressive. When I first made it I spoke to a Swedish friend who made it loads. She has never used vodka or anything, just salt & dill, so I kept it simple and was very happy with the results

CherryPavlova Fri 16-Nov-18 07:33:10

Sometimes it’s the ones where you have low expectations that turn out the best. Sometimes those where you’ve spent days preparing and planning don’t live up to expectations. Friends are generally nicer than hosting work dinners. Relaxed is generally nicer than starchy. Decent wine is often more important than the food but a wow to start and finish is better than a wow in the middle.
Thinking of specifics. I recently had to rush back from work in London to host so couldn’t spend all day preparing. We did really simple canapés to start with sticky mini sausages, cheese straws, mushroom bruschetta, crudités and guacamole, spiced nuts etc then simply served dressed crab and a pomegranate ham with homemade bread, new potatoes and salad. I had the crab delivered by courier from Cornwall from an excellent online fishery - so no effort at all. Then pudding of miniature figs in spiced syrup served with mascarapone or brownies with ice cream. Finished off with a couple of good local cheeses. It was a lovely evening and totally stress free.

Miltonkeynesmummy Fri 16-Nov-18 07:46:02

Anyone where all the food is just assembled at the last moment so it's really relaxed. I hate dinner parties when people are cooking for ages while you're there. It's too stressful.

If I was doing one today I'd probably do

starter- deep friend Camembert and sweet chilli sauce
Main- probably something quite light like spiced chicken, cous cous and salad
Pudding meringues, cream, pears, chocolate, toasted almonds

PARunnerGirl Fri 16-Nov-18 11:14:13

Definitely prefer to keep it as low maintenance as possible @CherryPavlova. Good cheeses always go down well and are a nice way to finish I agree. I have one of those slate boards that you write the cheese name on with chalk... people always like that!

You’re talking my talk with baked Camembert @Miltonkeynesmummy ! Heaven!

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Omega16 Fri 16-Nov-18 11:30:26

We are a veggie/omni/Pesci family and I like meals that fit together, rather than a wonderful dish and a separate sad offering vegetarian alternative.

So for example spiced shoulder of lamb with chickpeas, couscous and roast veg sprinkled with feta and pistachios. Flat bread and dips to start and baklava to finish.

Another menu that was well received baked Camembert with caramelised onion jam to start. Slow cooked beef in stroganoff flavours, spinach puff pastry pinwheels with superfood salad and wild rice. Toblerone fondue and fruit to finish.

PoisonousSmurf Fri 16-Nov-18 11:36:47

I'm almost 50 and so glad that I've never had to host a dinner party...EVER! Go down the pub for goodness sakes!

Chewbecca Fri 16-Nov-18 11:48:31

I love cooking for people and planning the menus.

I almost never do starters as it makes for too much getting up and down and just mucks up the flow imo. I do make extra effort with nibbles instead and we always have a dessert followed by a cheeseboard (I know, wrong way round). If a special occasion I pay a trip to Neal's Yard dairy for the cheese.

I aim for dishes which are almost all prepped in advance so, again, flow isn't disrupted.

Fave nibbles
- pork and veg spring rolls
- chorizo and prawn skewers
- mini mozzarella wrapped in basil and Parma ham
- peach chunk wrapped in Parma ham
- mini yorkies with beef and horseradish
- smoked salmon blinis ( homemade blinis)
- honey and mustard sausages
- terrine with home baked bread and pickles. (DH's favourite)

Some fave mains:
- duck breast with plum sauce (BBC good food)
- 7 hour lamb (BBC good food)
- salmon coulibiac (Delia's)
- easy beef wellingtons (Lorraine Pascal)

If I am being a bit more casual maybe a pork and cider casserole or beef in barolo.

Fave puds:
Chocolate tart
Individual chocolate puddings (Delia's)
Mango and passion fruit parfait

PARunnerGirl Fri 16-Nov-18 13:52:13

Beef in Barolo sounds delicious @Chewbecca and perfect for winter!

I also love an evening in the pub @PoisonousSmurf smile It’s nice to be able to enjoy different ways of spendibg time with family and friends.

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wowfudge Sat 17-Nov-18 17:01:28

A group of us did a NYE dinner party a few years ago. There were canapés then we had a salad of rocket, roasted butternut squash cubes with feta and toasted flaked almonds. Main was beef Wellington or veggie Wellington with mushroom duxelles rather than pate, gratin dauphinoise, roasted root vegetables and green beans. I can't remember what dessert was, but it was a fab night. I like The Barefoot Contessa's approach - she never cooks absolutely everything from scratch and always has one thing bought in. Takes the pressure off. What the hell did we have for dessert?

LadyMonicaBaddingham Sat 17-Nov-18 17:12:36

The best dinner party I ever gave was just after DH and I were married. We had a little galley kitchen in our tiny rented first home, but I fed eight people on:

Baby leeks wrapped in prosciutto and roasted. Served with hollandaise sauce.

Lamb steaks with rosemary and a port and redcurrant sauce. New potatoes and green beans with garlic.

White chocolate cheesecake or gin and tonic jelly.

Cheeseboard with grapes and walnuts. Port.

We had to borrow a neighbour's folding ping-pong table to seat everyone

tsonlyme Sat 17-Nov-18 17:15:50

I dunno about the best dinner party but I once came down the next morning to find the dining room door off it’s hinges and that the cheap wine someone had brought had taken the varnish off the table. Decades ago now <sigh>

Yvbmioasp Sat 17-Nov-18 17:21:19

I made red pepper and tomato soup and served with homemade crusty bread. I cooked shoulder of lamb, long and slow with garlic and rosemary, crispy roast potatoes, carrots and peas. Homemade peanut butter cheesecake with banana ice-cream.

kalinkafoxtrot45 Sat 17-Nov-18 17:37:47

I love cooking for friends! I like to have dishes that can be prepped ahead and don’t mind waiting in case people rock up late. We always host for Christmas, Burns Night and a few other times throughout the year. My best Burns Night effort was this: welcome cocktail of sloe gin + Prosecco; oatcakes topped with thinly sliced smoked venison, crumbled black pudding and rowan jelly to start; traditional haggis, neeps and tatties as the main; dessert was Tipsy Laird (whisky trifle) with a non-booze version for those who don’t like whisky. 12 of us round the table, heaps of beer, whisky and wine, and a good time had by all. I’m now planning our next Christmas blowout.

PARunnerGirl Sun 18-Nov-18 17:21:42

I have loved reading these replies! Lots of lovely evenings had, by the sounds of it 😊

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FedupNagging Sun 18-Nov-18 18:28:31

I love hosting dinner parties and we've had some corkers over the years!

Everyone loves the ham in cola which I tend to do with Nigella's potato gratin and spiced red cabbage (plus another veg) all of which can be prepped in advance.

White chocolate cheesecake with a raspberry coulis & Nigella's chocolate bread and butter pudding both get requested by friends and relatives who've been for dinner before!

I'm going to have a good read of this thread for inspiration.

maxelly Mon 19-Nov-18 14:59:21

Coming back to the thread a little late but to the poster who asked about the Persian stews, I mainly learnt from members of DH's family who do it all by eye/feel, but I do like this blog which has easy to follow recipes that work:

Or Sabrina Ghayour's books are quite good as a starting point although they are more fusion/middle eastern generally than 100% authentically Persian...

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