Cooking for guests: exciting and enjoyable or scary and too much pressure?
Here is how you can make cooking for guests an enjoyable experience for all involved!
Check Dietary Requirements
Different people have different dietary needs, and it might not always be obvious whether your guests have any. Before you start planning your soiree, have a quick check all of your guests’ dietary requirements. It’s better than not checking, and ending up serving food they can’t or won’t eat: my husband took over the reins recently when we had very good friends round – he wanted to prove that he could actually cook and whipped up his famous spaghetti vongole… unfortunately, neither of our guests ate seafood!!!
Write a plan
I have a book where I record who is coming round, what I am intending to cook and the timings; from this I write a shopping list. As well as being very useful for the dinner party, it also acts as a lovely reminder of our social occasions over the years!!
I have lots of suitable recipes in my recipe section: I like dishes which I can make in advance as I don’t want to be slaving over the hob while my guests are sipping wine!!
Put Hygiene First
Hygiene should always come first when cooking: make sure you defrost everything properly (and safely) and if you precook anything, ensure that you cool it and store it properly. And always check things are properly cooked through: a thermometer is a good purchase, or you can just cut a piece open and take a look!
As well as food hygiene, I always make sure I have plenty of hand soap and hand sanitiser available for my guests – I am a big fan of the soaps from a company local to me called Handmade in Harpenden: they add a touch of class to my bathroom (and you can get candles to match!!)
Better to have too much food than not enough! I always over cater as there is nothing better than having leftovers the next day (just make sure you cover everything and pop it in the fridge/freezer before you get too carried away with the wine!!)
If hosting a BBQ, consider having some dishes that you can cook in the oven and prepare lots of side dishes ( they are always my favourite part of a meal!)
It’s Not Just About The Food
Finally, try to remember that it is not only about the food – think atmosphere! Can you come up with a theme: I have gone Mexican before (I have lots of recipes in my recipe section) and served margaritas on arrival and had some sombreros dotted around the kitchen. You could pick a decade: how about going back to the 80s with volovents and angel delight or you could go Italian and serve pizzas, meatballs and tiramisu!