After deciding on a date for my dinner party, I had about a week and a half to pull it all together. My first stop was, obviously, Pinterest for a nice big dose of inspiration. Once I knew what I wanted to cook, I wrote a huge shopping list to make sure I didn't forget anything - especially as I was doing my shopping in a few different places. To stick with the Edinburgh theme, I wanted to use seasonal ingredients from local producers so I got my fruit and vegetables from Dig-In Bruntsfield and bread, cheese and other bits from the Edinburgh Farmers' Market. Planning also included working out where everyone was going to sit, cleaning the flat and making sure I had enough glasses and plates for everyone. Don't forget to check silly little things like having enough cutlery or a big enough dish for the oven etc. as those are the things you'll go to use last minute and then realise you don't have!
I didn't want to go too over the top with decor and themes, so just went for a simple summery table using bits and pieces I already had (apart from the table runners which were a new purchase I couldn't resist from H&M Home!). Somewhere on Pinterest I saw the idea of using washi tape as a napkin ring, so I dug out some gold striped washi tape, a little piece of string and a sprig of rosemary to make simple napkin decorations. My table is quite small and could only seat four people, so I utilised my big coffee table for the other three guests and decorated it with the same table runner, candles and flower arrangements to make it all match. To save on space, I didn't want big floral centrepieces so instead opted for lovely little bunches of wildflowers (well, they were actually bought from a shop but you know, they look wild!) and arranged them myself in wee milk bottles and empty jam jars. I got separate bunches of lisianthus, lavender and baby's breath and managed to make five separate arrangements out of them!
I love antipasti platters and they're pretty simple to put together, so that seemed like an easy choice for the starter. I put together some melon, parma ham and mozzarella skewers, platters of salami, proscuitto and cheese, some salad and of course plenty of fresh bread from the farmers' market with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping. As this didn't involve any cooking, I could do all the prep before the dinner party started which definitely made life easier. For the main course I wasn't so sure what to make so headed to Pinterest for some ideas. In the end I opted for honey & mustard chicken with parmesan roasted potatoes and chargrilled asparagus. The recipes I used were based on this one and this one, but I did a test run of this a few days before so I could make some tweaks to the ingredients and double check all the timings and temperatures etc. I thought this recipe would go really well with some chargrilled asparagus, which is in season during the summer, so I picked up a couple of bunches at Dig-In. Finally, for dessert I decided to make creme brulee and pavlova - for creme brulee you need loads of egg yolks and for pavlova you need loads of egg whites, so why not make both?! Both of these could be made the night before so I didn't have to spend much time in the kitchen during the party. All I had to do was torch the creme brulees with a mini blowtorch (I think I may have over-torched them a tiny bit) and add the cream and fruit to the pavlova, then serve.
Drinks wise, I served some failsafe white wine throughout the meal but for a welcome drink I decided to go for something a little more exciting and made a strawberry gin smash cocktail. Scottish strawberries are in season at this time of year too, so it was the perfect light, summery drink to kick things off. To make a pitcher (serves 4 - I may have had to refill this a couple of times!) you'll need 6 measures of gin, the juice of 1 lime, a couple of handfuls of sliced strawberries, 10-12 mint leaves, and then top it up with ice and lemonade. Give it a quick stir and then serve in a tumbler, preferably with a cute paper straw!
So, all in all, it was a great evening and a lovely way to catch up with my friends which (for me anyway!) didn't even involve leaving the house. Fancy throwing your own dinner party? Check out this handy blog post from Argos with lots of tips and tricks, and if you fancy winning a bundle of cute Heart of House kitchenware all you need to do is share your dinner party photos on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ArgosDinnerParty - good luck! What would your ideal dinner party include?
Competition Terms & Conditions:
To enter the above competition, entrants must share a photograph from their dinner party on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ArgosDinnerParty. Each entrant must also send their entry, along with their name and contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org. 1. No purchase necessary. 2. Only one entry per person. 3. The prize draw is open to all UK residents, over 18 years of age, except employees of Home Retail Group. 4. The prize is as follows: a bundle of kitchenware goods from Heart of House. 5. To enter the prize draw you will be asked to provide your name and contact details. 6. The information you provide here will be safeguarded under the Data Protection Act and controlled by Home Retail Group. 7. The prize draw ends at midday on Wednesday 30th September 2015. 8. The winner will be notified via email or telephone by Argos or their agency within 14 days of the closing date. 9. The winning entry will be selected by an independent judge and the judge’s decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into. 10. Entrants must use their own, unique photograph, and entering the competition confirms that they agree to this. 11. No cash alternatives will be substituted for the prize. The promoter reserves the right to offer alternative items/activities of a greater or equivalent value should unforeseen circumstances require it. 12. Use of a false name or address will disqualify any applicant from receiving the prize. 13. The winner may be required to participate in post-event publicity arranged by or on behalf of the promoter. 14. Promoted by Argos Distributors Limited, 489-499 Avebury Boulevard, Saxon Gate West, Milton Keynes, MK9 2NW. 15. Details of the winner can be found by contacting NetBooster, Suite 1A Gateway Business Centre, Unit 1 Barncoose, Gateway Park, Redruth, Cornwall TR15 3RQ, UK Telephone +44 2078029500. Email: email@example.com. 16. If the prize is not claimed within 28 days, we reserve the right to withdraw.