Tuesday, 13 November 2012

atCatharines Throwing a Dinner Party Tips

After much happening this year with Kat's house improvements and me getting up the duff, we finally get to host a dinner atCatharines a couple of weeks ago and boy did we come back with a bang. We fed 17 diners and the first one to leave was at midnight to which she quietly admitted to me that she normally would have stayed out longer if it wasn't for her hangover!! At 37 weeks pregnant, I was ready to go to bed 3 hours ago, I was glad of her hangover. Despite having acute back pain that night, I was content and proud! This is what we are about atCatharines. We love to entertain and come what may that's what we do best!

We are sad to say that it will be a few more months yet before we get to host another one again given the imminent arrival of baby Coombes but as it is nearing Christmas, we thought we might equip you with a few entertaining tips for the festive season. Not long ago, I heard on the news that Pippa Middleton has published a book called 'Celebrate' and I looked it up on the internet for the reviews which I have to admit it was notoriously unkind and downright rubbish. I haven't read the book but I have read some of the extracts that people has included and I must admit that it does sound 'unnecessary'. So if you are thinking of hosting any parties, I would not waste my money and here are some practical useful tips and it has worked for us.

1) Decide on your menu
Whether it is a sit down meal or buffet, it is always good to decide on what to feed people. Choose something that you can make in advance and you are confident in making, it doesn't need to be the entire menu but as much as you can. People always say choose a safe menu, I agree to a point but what's the fun in that?!? Feel free to cook something that is not in your repertoire. They are your guests, hopefully all good friends otherwise you won't invite them anyway so experiment on them! But one thing that you have to sure of is your confidence that you can pull it off. I know I can't pull off souffles for 17 so I am not going to try!

Make sure your menu doesn't use up too much oven space for example choose mash potato instead of roast potatoes. Perhaps a cold starter instead of hot. You get the idea? Unlike a professional kitchen, a normal household will only have a single oven.

2) Write down the list of ingredients/ decorations
Lists are essential so that you can go out and buy what you need and not what you might want. Try to buy loose ingredients so that you are not wasting what you do not use in a pack. For example buy one or two chillies rather than a pack. Search through your purse to see if you have any vouchers from certain supermarkets and put them to good use when doing a big shop!

3) Write down a list for the things you need to prepare and decide on a timeline
If you have things to make in advance, decide when you will make it, what else need to be done and tick it off the list as you go along. You can make it as detail as you want it to be.

Sample list assuming party day Saturday:
Starter: Chicken Caesar salad
Friday - Roast chicken
Sat - Wash leaves, grate Parmesan

Main - Chilli con carne
Thursday - Make chilli
Sat - Boil rice, serve with sour cream

Dessert - Chocolate tart
Make tart Friday evening
Sat - Serve with vanilla ice cream

Sat am
Hoover downstairs
Get flowers
Set up table
Get decorations up
Ask husband to clear up his muddy boots in the hallway

4) Count plates, cutlery and glasses. Make sure you have enough
There is nothing more irritating than scrambling for forks and glasses when your guests are here so make sure you have enough so you are not running around trying to find them last minute. Separate them so that you know what you need and when. If you need 5 plates for starter, put 5 plates out so it is there when you need to dish up and join your guests. Savvy?

5) Put out wine openers and ice buckets
Let your guests help themselves to opening the wines or beers. Show them where to get their glasses and ask them to hold on to them.

6) Change into a posh frock
After all, you do not want to look like you have been dragged through the mills. It is a party after all!

7) Be there to greet your guests
Wait until some guests have arrived before you excuse yourselves to prep the food. Remember, hosting a dinner party is not a sprint. You can take your time. If your kitchen allows it, get your guests to come to the kitchen while you prepare the food.

8) Washing up
Very simple, dishwasher. I don't know what I will do without one. Oh and leave it till the next day. Go and have fun and get drunk with your guests. Of all things, washing up can jolly well wait!

Lastly have fun. There is no point in throwing a party when you are not enjoying it.

Cat & Kat xx