Staying in, in my world, is definitely the new going out. I love going out, I love nothing more than an anticipated dinner at a restaurant that has been on my wish list for months. I love meeting up with my dinner-mates early for a drink or three, the anticipation of a fabulous dinner and hours of chatting and laughing. But I also like attempting my own feast and as I haven't won the Euro Millions yet, it's a good thing too.
My most recent dinner party consisted of my lovely newly-wed friends back from their honeymoon with tans and happiness sparkling in their eyes, and Pippa the dog's favourite auntie and her Swedish boyfriend, visiting for the weekend. Much discussion was had over the menu, but not as much as we discussed the alcohol. The newlyweds arrived with bags full of booze and the freezer was promptly jammed full and we set about the gin.
Now, since I have very little self control, I have to make sure everything is as ready as possible because I know when the alcohol arrives, all the concern over serving dinner dissipates and I fill myself with gin and Prosecco. So the slow roast lamb shoulder I am always banging on about is perfect - throw it in the oven about 4 hours before you want to serve it up and Bob is your proverbial uncle.
I also chopped, mixed and prepped everything - the antipasti plates were laid out, I mixed the mixture for the ricotta mushrooms, and my brownies were ready for the oven to be served warm (more on that later).
I used to be a little scared of dinner parties, as our kitchen is also where the table goes, so you drag everyone in to sit down then they watch as you flap about in the final moments. Unfortunately this fear didn't go unfounded as I did manage to pour a whole jug of very hot red wine sauce over a friend's crotch once (after too much Prosecco) so don't get over confident or you could be preventing your friend's future child-bearing capabilities.
Normally, if you are well-prepared and have cooked what you're serving up before, then it will be fine. And they are your friends, so they won't be too harsh...right? Well, let's not mention the time my friend decided it would be hilarious to bring her video camera and film everyone's review a la Come Dine With Me. I still have nightmares about those scathing videos turning up online.
Anyway, this time everything went without too much a hitch and there were no crotch-scolding spillages. I did drop a ricotta-filled mushroom but it was onto one half of the newlyweds, so he didn't mind too much. He even described my lamb as 'meat heroin' the following day, so he is firmly in the good books. I even managed to enjoy plenty of food myself and I have to say I did myself proud.
The Londoner a blog by a rather beautiful London girl, who's life you will want a piece of. These Slutty Brownies are without doubt the best dinner party dessert. They take 15 minutes to make and 30 minutes to cook. You do have to cheat and get Betty Crocker's finest, but when you've slaved over everything else, an easy dessert is key in my book. They went down an absolute treat and I tried to avoid the credit for these - so easy and so delicious. I urge you to try them - and I promise I haven't exaggerated the ease of cooking!