Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dinner party

I am so behind with my posts and have lots to catch up on.  First things first.  Our friends Anna & Tom came to stay about a month ago so we organised a dinner party.  Anna and I spent a lovely afternoon in the kitchen chatting, cooking, drinking cups of tea, setting the table.  Anna took lots of photos, she is a very experienced photographer and made any of my attempts at food photography look hopelessly inadequate.   I would so love to have that eye for capturing an image.

She did ask me afterwards how I had managed to get it all together and onto the table so that it was still (reasonably) hot when we sat down.  Firstly, you must have hot plates. My secret weapon in the dining room is an ancient Magic Maid, which I inherited from my grandmother.  I could not live without this masterpiece of engineering and although it is lacking in style there it will remain until it dies.

So I heat the plates in the MM and the rest of the dinner can sit quite happily in there too.  I did something easy and ahead of time (lamb shanks) that I could reheat in the oven, along with the pearl barley and red wine (more on that in another post..) and even the green veg won't go grey if you don't put a lid on them (and a pinch on bicarb soda in  the cooking water helps to keep their colour).
Also it is easy to serve up (or plate up as they would say on Masterchef)  and I don't need a carver so he can get on with the wine.  It is always better to have everyone sitting down before you start serving too.  This is NOT EASY if everyone is busy talking but you must be firm..

Obviously not everyone has a MM, but it is possible to warm the plates in the oven with a menu like this if you have the room.  I have also been known to warm them by the fire and wrap a towel around them.

Dinner parties are always an effort, but if you get the right mix of people and don't burst your boiler with the food (keep it simple, no fancy tricks for any number more than six), they really are great fun.

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