local food, frugal living ,wartime recipes and veg boxes

Friends for Dinner

I do so love having friends over for dinner, so much more fun I think than just going out for a meal …of course if you hate cooking then you will think I am completely Bonkers but you are talking to the girl who catered her own wedding and made the wedding cake having moved house 8 weeks previously and the builders still in situ the day before the wedding with half a dozen family to fit in overnight…now that’s what I call stress, dinner for a couple of friends should be a doddle!

Entertaining at home is the frugal girls answer to a gourmet guzzle and what could be better than inviting some favourite people over to share the feast with you. Now I know a lot of people would stress about everything and hate the idea of slaving over a hot stove all day, but if like me you love to cook and dream about table settings then having an audience to applaud your efforts is indeed my idea of culinary heaven.

Planning is really the key to having an event that runs smoothly and for me that means planning my menu well in advance to include dishes that can be prepared ahead of the evening so that I can enjoy seeing my friends too. I can’t think of anything worse then being stuck in the kitchen for hours while all my guests are sipping Pimms and catching up on the gossip.  Once you have decided on your menu then you can write out a shopping list and ensure that you have everything that you need before you start to cook. My Dinner Party menus are often planned around the contents of my weekly KentVegBox so that I can extoll the virtues of shopping locally and buying fresh seasonal produce. My local Rooks Butcher has also become a great discovery and source of advice on the best cuts of meat for a particular dish and tips on cooking cheaper cuts of meat.

You will of course have to take your guests likes into account, some are trickier than others but it is always worth checking if anyone has any pet hates or allergies. This dinner party menu takes into account that fish and lamb are not liked by these particular friends, but it wouldn’t suit my Mother In Law as she doesn’t eat pastry, pork or strawberries which are all on this menu. I do wonder if this is maybe a Freudian way of ensuring I don’t get an uninvited dinner guest!…bliss  are guests that will eat anything!

So my menu is planned, to start with an Asparagus and Stilton Flan to be served with salad leaves and some of my Homemade Beetroot Chutney. I made the flan first thing in the morning along with my new favourite Becksie Bread…just because it seems there is nothing more impressive than having baked your own thank you Becksie at TeamPugh- A Year Without Supermarkets  for encouraging me to give it a go


The main course is to be a belly of pork, marinated overnight in soy, honey and mustard and then slowly roasted for eight hours on a bed of veg, the cunning plan here being that you can shove it in the oven at a leisurely pace mid morning and forget about it completely until the guests arrive leaving you plenty of time for an afternoon snooze. I have bought some fresh beetroot at the market and this will be wrapped in foil with a drizzle of olive oil to slow roast as well, leaving just a bagful of Red Chard leaves to wilt down like spinach with a couple of garlic cloves at the last minute

Dessert is a Fiona Cairns inspiration from her gorgeous book Bake & Decorate . Her version is three meringue bases stacked high and oozing with cream and berries, very simple really but the “wow” factor in the presentation is amazing, I mean who would think of twirling pink food colouring through the meringue and scattering it with rose petals…some foodie gurus leave me speechless with admiration and wondering ” why didn’t I think of that”.  For those who havn’t heard of her she made Kate & Wills wedding cake and a series on TV about baking.. sorry I’m getting boring now but the lady does impress me completely!.. anyway to get back to my menu I hope Fiona wouldn’t be too disappointed by my offering….I have left off a layer as I am only feeding four of us and her recipe is for 10-12 portions. it would work really well for a garden party or summer wedding  and even make a very inexpensive wedding cake as it is so pretty…

this is my version of Summer Berry Rosewater Meringue


I’m no wine expert and relied on tweeting my menu to the good guys at Chapel Down Wines for their recommendation of “Flint Dry”..Englands answer to Chablis or ” Bacchus Reserve 11″, I only wish I’d asked them earlier as I don’t have time now to get over to Tenterden  to visit the Vineyard which is on my list of local producers to visit and I settled for a Petit Chablis. For the designated driver I have a lovely Worcester Pearmaine Apple Juice made at a farm a few miles away which I discovered on one of my shop local trips in the greengrocers about ten minutes walk from our house.

Table decorating is one of my favourite bits of entertaining and I generally do it the day before so that I have plenty of time to get creative and play about with glue and stuff! I use oddments of wallpapers or wrapping papers for a cheap throwaway theme, add candles and ribbons, contrast some napkins and flowers and base a colour scheme around some favourite china or in this case gorgeous green glasses a treasured wedding gift from my daughter.



I can report that the evening went really well and although I had every intention of photographing the main course for you once my friends had arrived and the wine was flowing I completely forgot to do it and anyway who wants to faff about with a photo shoot when dinner is on the table so “cheers” and I hope I have inspired you to cook a meal for friends.

2 comments on “Friends for Dinner

  1. teampugh
    June 9, 2013

    This looks AMAZING 🙂

  2. LFFL
    June 14, 2013

    Love the pictures. Dinner parties can be fun.

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Morphy Richards


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