Recipes, reviews & lifestyle

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

How to: Dinner Party for 10


Catering for 10 people will always seem (and partly is) a daunting process. This is why when I had the joy of 10 of my lovely friends visiting on the weekend, I had to be prepared! 
In this post I will be explaining my tips and tricks of how I planned and prepared my dinner party for 10, and hopefully give you some inspiration along the way! 

First Priorities and Things to Think About

1. Will your party have a theme?
2. How much do you want to spend?
3. Do any of your friends have any allergies/intolerances/preferences? I.e gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian etc..

One of my guests had a strong intolerance to spice; strong like he would notice even the tiniest bit of spice, so I had to be careful. I also had a guest who didn't eat chocolate, so I had to bare that in mind to. It's always respectful to try and adhere to your guests tastes and preferences. 

Planning Stage

When you have established what theme your party will have (mine didn't have a theme, although it did have some Middle-Eastern influences in some of the food) and how much you are going to spend, you're ready to hit the cookbooks/internet to get planning. 

It's best to plan at least a week in advance

How I began my planning stage, was to browse quickly through most of my cookbooks and make a note of any recipes that I would deem quick and easy to cook for 10 people. I would put aside any that were too fiddly or not great for bulk cooking. You are looking for:

1. Recipes that are great for batch cooking. I.e. Chilli con Carne.
2. Nothing fiddly or too fine dining-esque
3. Nothing too weird or unusual in case some guests are not used to it. (i.e. don't cook rabbit, just incase!) Unless you know your guests love this particular ingredient!
4. Recipes you can prepare most parts in advance, to make life easier

Once you have chosen your top choices, narrow down to those that you prefer or think will work best according to your circumstances, and draw up your menu. 


My Dinner Party Menu for 10

Drinks on Arrival

Paris Ice Tea

Nibbles on Arrival

Rosemary and paprika coated Almonds
Hummus served with crispy flatbread and raw veg

Starter

Pub-style cheese and chutney croustades

Main

Crisp-coated chicken breast served with mediterranean veg and/or fattoush salad

Dessert

Millionaire Cheesecake served with clotted cream ice cream and a wafer


Everything on the above menu was homemade, even down to the ice cream wafer. Trust me, it is possible with a little preparation!









Once you have your menu sorted, the next step is draw up a plan of which items you can prepare in advance and when you will do this. Also you will need a shopping list of what to buy for the following week's preparations. My plan looked something like this:
FYI: My party was held on a Friday night

Tuesday: shop for all items needed
Wednesday: Make ice cream and coated nuts
Thursday: Make cheesecake and ice cream wafers

I know this may seem brief, but it doesn't need to be long or complicated. However yours can be as a complicated as you like if you want it to be, as long as you can understand it! 

Why I Chose What I Chose (Recommended recipes at bottom of post)*

- The ice tea was so easy to prepare in advance and non-alcoholic, so great for everyone.


- Coated nuts were so simple and easy to prepare in advance. They keep for a long time too.
- Hummus is so easy to make and always goes down well. Again, great for advance prep. And the flatbread can be done in advance too.
- Croustades starter was quick and simple, and I gathered most people like cheese and bread.
- Crisp-coated chicken was unusual yet also very easy and great for bulk cooking.
- Med veg is yummy and again, great for the bulk-ness aspect.
- Salad is a nice healthy option, and is easy to make. The Middle Eastern twist on mine just made it that bit extra special.
- I chose cheesecake because it's easy to prepare in advance and most people enjoy it.
- I have a ice cream maker, so the ice cream was pretty simple to do in advance, but also created that 'wow' factor of having made it myself.
- Wafers are so simple. End of! 

Because of careful planning and choice of recipes, all I had to prepare on the night before guests arrived were:

1. Cut up the salad items and use any excess for the pre-dinner nibbles.
2. Slices the baguette and toast.
3. Make the cheese and chutney mix. Chill.
4. Cut the veg and roast. 
5. Crush the crisps for the chicken coating.

Once the guests had arrived:

1. Serve the drinks
2. Grill the baguettes with the cheese/chutney topping
3. Coat chicken breasts and cook in oven.
4. Plate up and finish off the salad.

Now I think you will agree with me that this is quite minimal for a host hosting a party for 10 people. Because of careful planning, I was able to mingle with my guests and not stress out! Most of the work was already done.

How did I cater for the person who can't have spice and the one who doesn't eat chocolate?

I put out two hummus dishes, one with paprika sprinkled on top and one without.
I made sure that I had prepared a separate salad bowl without any of the Middle Eastern Spice added. 
I made a couple of croustades without the chutney and just cheese.
And because I had made ice cream as well as the cheesecake which had a chocolate topping unfortunately, I was able to serve an extra helping of ice cream with a little wafer to finish it off.

To some it may seem that I went too much out of my way, but I feel that little things like this don't go unnoticed and can really make your guests feel at home. 

Now you have the food down to a 't', next you need to think about:

Preparing the Table

Now I'm not expert at table planning or design, however I have read enough magazines and been to enough parties at my sister's (a great table layer!), to know what works and doesn't. 
Just consider these points:

1. Try to avoid weird patterns or anything too old or dated on your table cloth. A nice neutral colour always works best. Unless your party is themed of course.

2. Don't over crowd the table with unnecessary items. No, those fives vases are not okay, unless you're going for a botanical look!

3. Lay the table before guests arrive (see below).

4. Try and make sure everything matches, unless you like it that way. This is why neutral and wood-based items work: i.e a wooden salt and pepper shaker will blend in nicely with most themes.




What To Include On Your Table
No matter what theme your party will be, these items are always necessary on your table:
- Cutlery (get your best out!)
- Napkins (cloth or paper - you can fold these so many ways)
- Drinks glasses
- Table cloth 
- Salt and Pepper shaker

Optional Items Which Make All The Difference:
- A vase with a flower. Or even a small plant - succulents work well.



- Candles - tea lights are best.

So now you are all prepared with your table laid and food prep done, you're almost ready. Just remember these few points:
1. DON'T stress - your guests will always be forgiving.
2. Try and mingle with guests when they arrive. Give yourself time to breathe between each course.
3. Don't forget to eat as well. It's easy to forget when thinking about other things.


I really hope this little guide has been useful for you. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments. Also let me know if you have any tips if you have also hosted for this amount of people before - would be nice to share!

*The Recipes I Recommend 
I've only added the recipes which I perceived as being particularly great for a dinner party. If you wish to know a recipe I haven't added, feel free to ask and I will send it your way.

Paris Ice Tea (Park Avenue Potluck by Florence Fabricant)

Ingredients
1 cup of sugar
Juice of two limes
3 orange spice tea bags (I couldn't find this flavour so I chose lemon and mandarin)
Fresh raspberries
Fresh blueberries
2 limes, in wedges

Method
1. Put sugar in a saucepan and add 1 cup of water, bring to a simmer and cook until sugar dissolves.
2. Add the lime juice.
3. Pour into a metal bowl and cool down by placing bowl over another filled with ice and water. 
4. Infuse the tea bags in a tea infuser or pitcher with 1 pint of water boiled water. Steep for 10 mins.
5. Remove tea bag and chill until time to serve.
6. To serve, divide the fresh fruit between the glasses and add the ice tea. Pour the sugar into a small jug and serve alongside to sweeten. 

Rosemary Roasted Almonds (Mary Berry Cooks by Mary Berry)

Ingredients
200g blanched almonds
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Method
1. Dry dry the almonds on a high heat until toasted.
2. Add the oil, salt and rosemary and reduce the heat. Fry until crisp.
3. Remove from heat and sprinkle in paprika. Toss together and serve. If not using straight away, store in a air-tight container. 

Hummus Recipe (Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour) 

Ingredients
3 x 400g cans of chickpeas - keep the liquid of 1 1/4 cans
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp garlic oil (I used crushed garlic cloves instead)
Juice of 3 lemons
4 tbsp of light tahini (I used normal tahini)
Sea salt flakes
Paprika to garnish 

Method

1. Whizz the chickpeas in a food processor until smooth. I used my nutri bullet but I had to do it in stages because even the large cup wouldn't hold it all. You can use whichever you prefer. Add part of the chickpea liquid and olive oil a little at a time, to get an even texture.

2. Add the garlic oil (or cloves), lemon juice and tahini, as well as the rest of the olive oil and sea salt to taste. Mix thoroughly. 

3. Keep adding olive oil drizzle until you reach the right consistency. Correct seasoning as you wish.

4. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkling of paprika. 


Pub-Style Cheddar Chutney Croustades (Park Avenue Potluck by Florence Fabricant) - I've adapted the method slightly

Ingredients
1 jar (10 ounches) mango chutney
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
24 thin slices of baguette, lightly toasted

Method
1. Grate the cheese into a bowl. 
2. Pour in the chutney and mix in.
3. Toast the baguettes slices lightly. 
4. Top each slice with a spoonful of cheese and chutney mix. Grill under a medium grill for 5 minutes. Serve straight away. 

Melissa McGraw's Potato Chip Chicken (crisp-coated chicken!)

Ingredients
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 bag of crisps
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 lemon
Salt and Pepper

Method
1. Place the butter into a baking tray, large enough to fit the chicken in a single layer.
2. Put the tray into a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees until melted. 
3. Crush the crisps in a polythene bag. 
4. Coat the chicken with butter in the baking dish. 
5. Place each breast one a time, into the bag with crisps, coating evenly. Place back into the tray.
6. Squeeze the lemon juice all over the chicken. Cut the lemon into slices, and place around the tray. Season and bake for 20 minutes.
Note- I doubled this recipe for my party. 


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