When you want to host a Come Dine With Me-style party but tuna pasta bake is the only thing in your repertoire, it helps to have some simple inspiration…
As you may or may not know, we host an annual exhibition dinner party here at Expensive Tastes. This year’s was supposed to take place last week, but I had to postpone due to a nasty bout of tonsillitis.
Hosting these dinner parties has inspired others to do similar things, such as one of my friends who has recently moved into his first flat. His proposed menu inspired me to put together this little feature for any beginners to the dinner party scene who need help choosing a main course.
COQ AU VIN
Innuendos at the ready. Coq au Vin is a classic French chicken dish reminiscent of a pot-roast or a stew. It really is as simple as placing all the ingredients into a pot for a couple of hours and letting it cook. There’s no real skill involved, which makes it perfect for a dinner party regardless of your level of experience.
Stew dishes (as pictured) for dinner parties don’t just stop at chicken. Beef stew with proper suet dumplings (or horseradish savoury scones as an alternative) or lamb stew served with a nice, buttered baguette also make for really easy mains that are full of flavour. The key to making them look attractive is an assortment of colours.
pork / lamb chops
The key to a good dinner party dish is either – a dish that can be prepared and cooked well in advance, then heated through and served on the night; or a dish that can be whipped up in minutes and served almost immediately.
When it comes to pork or lamb chops, these fall into the latter category. You are literally cooking the meat through. They need only be as complicated as you want them. Fry them up in some herbs and spices for simplicity, or go all the way and cook them in a sauce. What you accompany them with is also a matter of preference. If you’re looking for quick and easy, some mashed potatoes and steam vegetables will do the trick.
It’s my belief that if a student can learn to make it, anyone can. Lasagne (see pictured) is so easy that it would be more impressive if a person did get it wrong. It’s just a matter of layers. Between ragù sauce, Béchamel sauce and lasagne sheets, all of which you can buy pre-made, there’s little else to it. Chuck a couple of garlic ciabattas on the side, maybe a salad, and done.
The lasagne recipe I use is a trade secret, but a gluten-free and vegan-friendly version is available here.
ITALIAN STEAK SANDWICHES
Prepare to get creative in the kitchen now. These Italian Steak Sandwiches (see pictured) are a manipulation on a student recipe, which I did a video demonstration for back when I was involved with the YouTube channel The Student Takeover (see the recipe and video demo here).
This is a dish that will make you look good in the kitchen, especially if you’re a beginner. It may be as easy as putting together a sandwich, but there’s so much involved it will make you look like a pro. One to impress with.
CHILLI CON CARNE (WITH Optional NACHOS)
One of the first things people learn how to do in the kitchen is boil rice. If you have that down, you’re already halfway to making a successful chilli con carne. All you need to handle now is the sauce, which is a simple case of cooking up tomatoes, onions, garlic, kidney beans (and sometimes baked beans as well, if controversially) and as much or as little chilli powder as you and your guests can stomach. Serve traditionally on the rice (as pictured) or, if you’re feeling a bit more creative, I suggest layering the plates with nachos, spooning the rice over them and then the chilli on top of that.
Can you think of any more simple main courses for beginners to serve for dinner parties? Let us know in the comments box or on our social media channels.