Dinner parties – a great way to catch up with friends
Growing up, I always thought dinner parties were for “old people” – something your parents did with their friends on a Saturday night.
I’d always spend the afternoon prior to one of mum’s soirees watching her bake, stir and stress. We lived in Adelaide in a house that was more than 100 years old – and I loved to watch her get her very best dinner set, complete with crystal glasses, out of her antique sideboard cupboard (which I am proud to say has been passed on to me) to set the dining room table. This crockery never saw the lights of day, except for such an occasion.
The adults would always sit at the dining table, sipping wine and laughing with music playing in the background. I always loved how mum would get ger candelabras out and the way the tall candles looked so grand when they were lit and melting wax everywhere.
I always wished I could be a grown up too and sit at the table while they ate their prawn cocktail entrees out of little glass bowls. But, in the proper dinner party style that was the late 80s – we were sent to the other end of the house to watch TV, a movie, or play video games. Before desert was served (usually chocolate mousse or a Pavlova) – mum would usher us up to the dining room, where we said goodnight to dad and their guests and were swiftly put to bed. I always recall finding an excuse to get up again – toilet, drink, there’s a monster in my wardrobe – the usual excuses a child under 10 would use to not stay in bed when other exciting things where happening elsewhere in the house. But really, I just wanted to be a part of it all.
But, around two decades on, I understand why my parents wanted us in bed. That’s because it’s an occasion to be grown-ups – to enjoy some punch or a glass of wine, cook up a storm and enjoy each others company – and that’s what we did with four fabulous friends this Saturday night. It was fun to chit-chat while making the final preparations for the entree – to stand around the barbecue and laugh and to catch up on all the goss that’s happened since we last saw each other.
And, it’s also totally awesome for someone like me – who just loves to cook! I don’t cook as much as I used to (living with another woman who is a terrific cook makes this an awesome thing!) – so to get the chance to go a little berserk was very cool!
What was the menu, I hear you ask? Well – this is what we had – I decided I wanted to do a gourmet barbecue with dishes from all over the world. Lots of fun and variety 🙂
Mango, lime and ginger punch (get the recipe here)
Mussels and prawns in a white wine and tomato sauce with chorizo
Mediterranean marinated lamb backstrap (click here for the recipe)
Italian marinated beef shazlicks
Barbecued corn on the cob with lime and chilli butter
Warm potato salad (click here for the recipe)
Cous cous salad
Yogurt and mint dip
Hommus (click here for the recipe)
Pavlova with summer fruits
While I have to confess that I didn’t actually make the desert – Matt’s mum whipped it up before she left (and it was sooo yum!!)- I made everything else from scratch. And as you can see, many recipes were from Uforic Food. Very proud 🙂
Over the coming days I’ll share the recipes for all these dishes – starting now with this fabulous tandoori chicken recipe, which I actually got from the Indian episode of Food Safari. However, I have modified it a little, as I added salt as per the recipe – and I thought it was too much and ended up adjusting it. I also added tomato paste, as the turmeric and paprika alone didn’t give me the vibrant colour I was hoping for.
- 1kg chicken fillets, cut into pieces
- ¼ cup natural yogurt
- 2½ tsp fresh ginger, grated
- 2½ tsp fresh garlic, grated
- 50ml vegetable oil
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1½ tsp ground cumin
- 3 tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp hot chilli powder (optional)
- 4 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp
- turmeric powder
- 5 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 2tbs of tomato paste
Add all ingredients to the yogurt and mix well. Score the chicken fillets with your knife – about halfway through the flesh. This helps the marinade to seep into the chicken and reduces cooking time.
I always think it’s best to use your hands to massage the marinade into the chicken, to ensure it’s all covered and in the slits you have cut into the chicken.
Once covered with marinade, cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
And, finally, a big thank you to my wonderful friends Ruza, Sam, Laura and Matt for joining us for dinner. And, a big thank you to my Matt – for helping me when I started to get a little stressed that I had bitten of more than I could chew! Happy Valentines Day!!
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