Good Food Blog
Dinner party disastersPosted at 12:02PM, 17 March 2011 by Jessica Gunn - Features editor - olive magazine
'Only cook things you've made before and know will work,' was the sage advice from olive's food editor for my dinner party. But hey - where's the excitement in that? Plus, who really practises the kind of dishes you serve up to friends on a Saturday night on a normal evening when there are trips to fishmongers, delis and other out-of-the-way-but-worth-it-for-a-special-occasion kind of shops? Not me.
When friends come round, I prefer to cook things you can prepare ahead, rather than getting stressed in the kitchen on my own.
Now, I'm not usually a complete failure in the kitchen. I've had no professional training but I can knock up something tolerably good most of time - although I do need to think about it a bit first, and I'm certainly not going to venture into MasterChef territory - not even first-round MasterChef (you will not be served tuille baskets in my flat). When friends come round, I prefer to cook things you can prepare ahead, rather than getting stressed in the kitchen on my own.
So what to make? I had some kohlrabi (always a bit of a challenge), and some fennel from the veg box, so planned from there. To start, Kohlrabi carpaccio (served with anchovies, hard goat's cheese, thyme and rapeseed oil), followed by roasted seabass and fennel, and finally a mascarpone tart topped with summer fruits. Simple! Or not, as it turned out. The rather odd sounding starter (a recipe from the Guardian magazine) was rather odd, but quite nice. The fennel however, was undeniably crunchy (read: raw), and the fish overcooked. The tart didn't set so I was obliged to dish up a kind of creamy, fruit slop.
Nowadays, I think a little harder about menus when friends come round. This weekend, a Delia starter hadn't been tried before, but something similar had, and that went down a treat. Duck breasts with a blackcurrant sauce was a bit of a mix of several recipes but again, not entirely new territory. As for the Lemon & vanilla puddle pudding from the front cover of last month's olive - well, I had a bit of insider knowledge on that one so I was confident I was onto a winner.
What about you? Do you always practice your dishes before serving them to guests or do you try something new despite the potential for disaster? And have you had any major dinner party disasters you're not too embarrassed to share?