Step by step: Friends over for dinner

It’s 4pm, friends are due over in three hours and the panic begins to creep in. You frantically decide on pasta, wander up and down the aisles in pure desperation. Does this sound a little familiar? Well, worry not I’ve got you covered, follow this guide and your next dinner party will be planned to perfection and you can even have a lie in! This works well for 6-8 people at an 8pm arrrival,


Roll out of your PJS and into the shower, spend a good hour primping, thoroughly cleanse and moisturise and then blow dry your hair as best you can (you’ll have allocated time later). 


Now for the food, here's your menu

Write these down: 

Check if you have these and if not add them to your list: Olive oil, Balsamic Vinegar, 7 Eggs , Pine nuts, Capers, Garlic powder, Mixed dried herbs, caster sugar. Pop off to the supermarket to pick up your goods. Also buy some of the best looking cheapest flowers and some funky-coloured serviettes and a bottle of something if you don’t have.


Unpack your ingredients and shove flowers in empty jam jars or milk bottles, 


Whizz up in a food processor :
50g/2oz basil
30g/1oz pine nuts, toasted
30g/1oz parmesan
1 clove garlic, crushed
85ml/3fl oz olive oil
a good squeeze of lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put in a bowl and set aside.


Pour 400ml cream into a saucepan and heat until it steams then snap in all your chocolate (dark and milk) leave to the side and whisk together 6 egg whites in a separate bowl (keep yolks!) until they make little snowy mountains when you lift the whisk out. For goodness sake use an electric one.  Whisk in 6tbsp on caster sugar but one at a time then stir in your chocolaty cream mixture and the 6 yolks slowly. Now spoon your pre-bought dulce de leche or caramel into as many glasses as there are people. Ladle your mousse on top and pop them in the fridge. Shove all in dishwasher!


Pop butternut squash cubes into the oven to roast for 20 minutes at 180C. Set aside.


Roll out the puff pastry onto a line baking tray and fold in all the edges to make a rectangular border. Spread over the brie and then pour a whisked egg on top. Lay out asparagus on top in lines. Top with pine nuts, garlic powder, dried herbs, capers, salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes at 180C. Set aside.


Trot upstairs and doll up!


Back down to top mousses with raspberries, cut up mozzarella into chunks with tomatoes onto a plate with basil and your butternut cubes. Set aside some of the cherry tomatoes. Mix together your dressing, olive oil and lemon with sea salt.


Lay your table, have a tidy up and set your tart onto a pretty plate cut into the same number of slices as people, Put together your salad on the plate and set out the avocado to be chopped and added last minute with the dressing. Also put the fresh pasta and pesto to hand and a big saucepan of salted water off the heat on the stove. I also like to litter the table with cheap tea lights and the flowers.


Add the avocado to the salad mix in lots of lemon if worried about browning and pour a drink into your best glasses, put on some music and mood lighting! Put out bowls of nuts/ crisps/ olives if you have- not essential! I also at this point use some room spray to cover any not so nice cooking smells. 


Greet guests with drinks and a smile.


Lock the door and unfriend any stragglers! Lay out the salad and tart on the table and pop the water on to boil, call everyone to sit down.


Pop the pasta in the water and sit down for 10 minutes.


Clear the tart and starter plates, put straight in dishwasher, leave the salad to have with mains too. 


Drain the pasta and tip in your aside cherry tomatoes and your pesto. Add any leftover pine nuts. I would serve up on plates and top with Parmesan and basil. Enlist a helper to carry plates to the table as you dish up each plate. Sit and enjoy with guests.


At your leisure clear the table and bring out desserts. Also offer tea and coffee.


You should be coming to a close without much clearing up left to do! Be a gracious hostess, say goodbyes, finish tidying and go to bed stress free! 

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