It was my mums 50th birthday on Saturday and me and my sister planned a weekend of surprises for her! It was so exciting planning each treat and seeing it all come to life in a big smile on her face! Our weekend included an afternoon tea at the beautiful Luton Hoo hotel, followed by a party with good friends. Then the next day we sent her off to a holistic spa for a full massage, manicure and pedicure and then in the evening I cooked a dinner party for us all!
I am getting a bit more confident throwing dinner parties and I am starting to want to host them more frequently! I have found that by having dishes which can be made in advance and also having some dishes which can be served cold it helps you have a more relaxing evening once people arrive.
I also began planning recipes for the starter and main which included the same ingredients, for example including the same herbs running through the meal means you will only need to buy one or two varieties. This keeps the cost down and creates some uniformity throughout the menu.
This time I also decided to make a meat main course option because, although most of my dinner parties have been completely vegetarian, I felt it would be nice to cook a dish I knew everyone would enjoy, even if I couldn’t eat it!
Here was my menu (I can’t resist sharing!)
Bean and Pea bruschetta
Deli meat platter
Roasted peppers with goats cheese and herb oil (recipe below)
Herb and Lemon Roast Chicken
Marinated Chicken Drumsticks
Potato and Fennel Frittata with rocket (recipe to come soon)
Green bean salad
Tomato and basil salad
Red pepper sauce (Recipe to come soon)
Fresh berries including blueberries, raspberries and strawberries
Maltesers (Mums birthday tradition)
Cinnamon and Hazelnut cake
I made too much food but I would rather be eating delicious leftovers for a couple of days than see my guests finish everything on the table 🙂
In the run up to her birthday I subtly asked my mum what her favourite food was to help me plan the menu (although apparently not too subtly because she subsequently guessed I was going to be cooking!). Mum’s only answer at that moment was Tatziki! I planned around that dish 🙂 this instantly brought rustic, rural dishes to mind and I knew it had to include some kind of tortilla and a big platter of roasted veg. Placing lots of dishes on the table for everyone to help themselves is my favourite way to eat, I didn’t serve one thing up on people’s plates it was all in the middle with big serving spoons.
These roasted peppers were one of the big hits of the night. As soon as it was put down in the centre of the table everyone’s eyes lit up and lips were licked with anticipation of digging in. That’s what I love about vegetarian food, it is so colourful with lots of varieties of flavour.
I made this during the day and popped it in the fridge ready to serve later on, just before serving I allowed it to reach room temperature and then scattered toasted pine nuts over the top and added another drizzle of good quality olive oil (photos taken before the pine nuts were added). The bowl of olives was an added extra because we always have olives as part of our starters, they’re perfect to nibble on whilst waiting for a meal without filling you up like bread would.
Serves 5 as part of a larger buffet spread
Wheat and Gluten free, Vegetarian, Dinner party worthy
5- 6 peppers, all different colours
Small piece of soft goats cheese
Salt and Pepper
Preheat the oven to 200c. Pour a little olive oil into your hands and give each pepper a little massage to cover them in the oil, you don’t need too much but enough to make sure the skin will char and blacken. Pop the peppers (whole) onto a baking tray and put in the oven for 25-30 minutes. They will be ready when deflated and the skin is blistered and blackened.
Place them into a plastic sandwich bag (Or into a bowl with a tight lid of clingfilm) and leave to cool then pull out the stalk, core and seeds and gently peel off the blackened skin. Putting them into a bag helps you to take the skin off without damaging the pepper too much. Slice the peppers and arrange on a plate however you like.
Finely chop your fresh herbs and put them in a small bowl with a good lug of olive oil (around a tablespoon should be enough) and mix well then pour the herb oil over the peppers.
Crumble the goats cheese on top and give it a little pinch of salt if you like and a good grind of black pepper. This can now get put to one side either in the fridge or on the table ready for your dinner later. When ready to serve heat a small frying pan with no oil and add your pine nuts. Toast them until they start to turn golden and then scatter them over the platter.
This recipe has been submitted to Allergy Free Wednesday over at The Healthy Alternative blog