I’m a very sociable person, and love to eat out, eat at friends and host my own dinner parties on a regular basis. I love the whole process of dinner party planning, from choosing the menu (and recipes) to setting the table and cooking it. But, I realise that dinner party planning can be very stressful for some, so today I’d like to share a fabulous menu idea for a seasonal dinner party for eight people, with the costings to help your budget, and some basic tips for planning too.
First, when planning a dinner party, remember three main things: Season, Ease and Practicality. Try to work with the seasons and choose a menu that reflects local ingredients that are in season – it makes for easier menu planning and can promote local artisans and food producers. Ease – make the menu easy and accessible for you to prepare and cook; choosing recipes that can be made and prepared ahead of time or that can cook all day whilst you get on with other chores.
Practicality – make sure the date is agreeable to you as well as your guests – so don’t throw a big dinner party on the evening of the day you get back from holiday, or decide to eat al fresco when the weather report says it will rain. Other areas of practicality are making sure the dish washer is empty before your party, and that the table is set before hand, with all the cutlery, glasses and china, and making sure you have enough room around the table for all your guests.
Then comes the nice part, choosing the menu; make sure you know all your guests dietary requirements and allergies before deciding what to cook. Try to choose recipes that can be partly assembled or prepared beforehand so your guests can enjoy their time with you, and you won’t be chained to the kitchen stove all night. The menu I am about to share is perfect for this, as the salad is prepared beforehand with minimal last minute cooking and the main course can be cooked whilst your guests are eating their starter. The dessert can be made earlier in the day, so there’s no last minute panic there either.
~ Starter ~
Hot Goat's Cheese Salad with Bacon (£20)
~ Main Course ~
Chicken Wellington with Cherry Sauce Served with seasonal salad and vegetables (£40)
~ Dessert ~
Crème Brûlée with Mixed Berries (£22)
6 to 8 Bottles of wine (paired to accompany each course) (£90 to £120)
The wines I picked for this three course meal for 8 people were Sancerre, St Emilian and Sauternes. So, the total cost of the complete dinner party is between £172 and £202 including wine, which is very budget friendly. (I used Ocado for purchasing my recipe ingredients and for general costs - prices correct at time of publishing) I am delighted to share my main course recipe with you all now, a fabulous dish that can be prepared ahead of time and only takes 30 minutes to cook with a cheat’s quick cherry sauce. Serve these individual chicken and pastry parcels with seasonal vegetables and/or salad.