Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The Perfect Dinner Party with Friends!

It was a LOT of work. It was so much planning, preparing, grocery shopping and cooking that I actually reconsider my idea of starting a living room restaurant! But OMG it was also so much fun!!!

I had celebrated my Bachelor of Law graduation with family by throwing a BBQ. But to celebrate with friends I decided to invite the 11 most culinary ones for a dinner party in our living room. Unfortunately the friends who love cooking, eating and wine as much as we do were on holiday, but there were still 9 amazing friends with a good appetite left!

Preparing Lemon Cheese Cake desserts with white chocolate in glass ramekins

Recently I wrote a post with 5 tips for throwing a stress free dinner party. Well, after last weekend I have some more tips! Especially for throwing a dinner party for more people.  It turned out there are other things to think about when you host 8 or more guests, instead of the 'normal' 4 or 6. 
When I googled on Internet I found dinner party do's and don'ts like; 'create a playlist', 'learn the art of conversation' and 'send formal invitations'. Those were not the tips I was looking for...

Table ready for our guests to arrive
It turned out that my most important advice for people who are planning a big dinner party is:
Make sure you have enough space in your refrigerator! 
Because I really hold on to rules number 4 and 5 (plan ahead and start cooking in time) I composed a menu with almost only dishes I could prepare a day or a few hours in advance.
That was a good thing, because at the evening of the dinner party I did not have to stress at all about getting courses ready on time. But off course all the pre-made dishes had to be stored cool. As soon as I started shopping for all the groceries, on my 3-page long(!) shopping list, I realised there was not enough room in our fridge for all the food. Not to mention the many bottles of wine and beer that had to be served chilled!

All dishes and the ingredients needed
Which brings me to the second extra tip when throwing a dinner party for a big group, but also for dinner parties in general:
Be creative! 
I put a part of the stuff I didn't need in the fridge at my work and another part in the fridge of our neighbours. We also borrowed a little extra refrigerator from my parents and used a camping fridge plus a coolbox with ice packs.

Another thing I had to be creative with was how to bring a lot of glasses, from the amuse bouche and the cocktails, to our guests while I only had one serving tray. For that I put a kitchen towel on an oven tray and that worked perfectly as a serving tray.

The third thing which is really handy if you're planning a dinner party for a lot of people; make a list of all the things that need to be done. If possible even write the time schedule with it. I'm convinced I would have forgot to heat the oven if I had'nt looked at my schedule that night.

Time schedule

And the last tip:
Be flexible, and don't be afraid to change the menu or just leave something out if you discover you don't have time for it or just doesn't fit.
I really wanted to have a dish with fresh figs, because their in season now. So I planned on serving fresh figs with blue cheese and prosciutto on a crostini with the aperitif. But last minute I skipped them from the menu because it meant keeping an eye on the oven during the time everybody arrived.

And a few hours earlier, while the  menu's were already printed and on the plates, I decided to skip the chicory with serranoham from Ottolenghi. Let me tell you; nobody even noticed!!!

The dinner was a big success! Even though just a few of our friends met each other before, everybody was talking and enjoying the food and wine.

The final result! 
Although I normally like to plan a dinner around a theme I decided to skip it because the most important thing was that it had to be easy to make for 11 persons.
But in the end I discovered I accidentally did have some sort of theme; Lemon! Except from the amuse bouche all the courses, including the cocktail, had some lemon in it.
And because I like to do things properly I especially bought some coffee and tea with a lemon link in it ;-)

Curious about the whole menu? Here it comes! The Persian grilled chicken was really popular, followed by the Kisir and the amuse bouche. Unfortunately I totally forgot to make pictures of all the dishes because I was so busy organising everything. Recipes will be published in next posts!


Pistachios, Remeker cheese and dried sausage from butcher shop Le Jeune
Amuse bouche
Parmesan Foam / acidic cherrytomatoes / basil oil (inspired by the signature amuse bouche from Beluga chef Hans van Wolde)
Toast with Fiorito Frizzo Cocktail and Strawberry/Lemonsoda Mocktail

Tilburg Sourdough bread with butter (grass/goat), salt, olive oil

First course
Salad with smoked salmon and Middle Eastern dressing
White wine: Domaine Gibault Sauvignon Blanc
Main course Israeli mezze:
Ottolenghi's marinated aubergines
Kisir (Turkish bulghursalad)
Dina’s carrot salad with honeyroasted pecans
Lamb Meatballs with tahinsauce
Red wine: Oratoire Saint Vincent Côtes du Rhône
Rose wine: Domaine de Gournier-Mourvedre
Lemon Cheesecake (inspired by Gu)
Dessert wine: Muscat de Beaumes de Venise


Coffee or tea with friandises
Homemade dried date cake/ Helva/ Chocolate coffeebeans
Tea: loose leaf Verveine
Coffee: Freshly ground coffee from Finca el Limoncillo (Nicaragua)

Liqor: Sabra
All wines (except the Muscat) were ordered at Vindict wineshop who also adviced about the winepairing with the food.

The Persian grilled chicken wings on the BBQ

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