A Mediterranean Dinner with friends

A few weeks ago we had friends over for dinner. I love a good dinner party and it’s nice to have friends over to enjoy good food, drink and music. As always I had planned this weeks in advance, actually a month or so in advance. We had mentioned a few dates but with summer coming up, a trip to Bristol, a Champions league final and a few other things in place, it was difficult to choose a day we could all commit too.

But whilst dates were swirling around, the big thing on my mind was what too cook. For ages I had settled on the idea of a Greek Meze, but instead I decided on a different theme instead. Whilst there were Greek-inspired dishes, Sam’s favourite-style of food – kebabs, Sam said I couldn’t really do a dinner party without my slow cooked BBQ Ribs, so I needed to make sure there were plenty on offer to please all appetites.

We had a party of 6 and my mini me. Two of the friends coming over we knew via our other friends, but had only met on a few occasions, so it was nice to make proper new friends, especially who I hadn’t cooked for before. 2 though had tried to brownies and been impressed, the other had heard about them and not yet tried them. That’s how this evening had come about.

We had hoped it would be a nice day, the sun had been shining but it decided that day it was going to be warm but dull and wet.

I love throwing it in a party. Combining my passion of cooking and then sharing it with people, makes it that much more exciting for when the day comes. I’ll admit I do get a little stressed out, and nervous. But that’s part of the fun, isn’t it?

Photo credit: http://www.misschilis.com

I’ve learnt in the past with previous dinner parties we had, that I should prepare everything beforehand. When guests arrive I should be entertaining not standing in the kitchen cooking. With this dinner party, instead of everyone sitting around the table, I cooked everything in stages, laid it out in a buffet style in the kitchen and let everyone help themselves. I’ve found whilst one may be hungry, others like to chat. I don’t always want to eat when everyone else does either. I’m not being rude, I just need to relax a little with a glass of wine before diving in – I’ve been cooking all day, I like to have a little break!

Being British we are a nation of foodies and wine lovers. Throwing a dinner party is just another opportunity to show off your culinary expertise, or so they say. In the last few years supper clubs have become almost the norm in modern culture, and whilst it’s lovely to go out and have dinner with friends, it’s not always easy with a toddler and all of our busy lives.

With this dinner party I channeled the Mediterranean with a hint of spice. A mixture of flavours for everyone.

The Table

I don’t believe in tablecloths. I think they can sometimes look really cheap and tacky, whatever the occasion. Instead, using platters, beautiful flowers and little decorations, really make all the difference. I don’t expect anyone to sit at the table. I suppose not having a huge amount of space in our dining room is probably the reason for that, but having a nice set up at the table, means there’s always a go to place for food and whatnot.

Sam bought a lovely bunch of flowers, which sat nicely on our table. A bit of colour makes the place brighten up, don’t you think?

The Food- Sharing is Caring

Whilst platters were my main aim, I did arrange dinner in a buffet style. So everyone could help themselves. It’s also a relaxed way of eating, no pressure and all that. People can socialise without feeling pressured to sit around a table and eat. The great thing about this way of eating is that people love the interactive style of eating, where they can serve themselves, enjoy what they want without pressure of having to eat what’s given.

The Menu

Appetisers

  • Black olives
  • Green olives
  • Selection of meats
  • Nuts
  • Selection of relishes and dips – Cucumber & Chilli Relish, tomato salsa, hummus and tzatziki

Mains

  • Pork & Pineapple kebabs
  • Chicken gyros
  • Bbq slow-cooked Ribs

Side Dishes

  • Salad
  • Greek roast potatoes
  • Roasted Greek vegetables
  • Selection of pitta and flatbreads

Desserts

  • Jaffa & Terrys Chocolate Orange Brownies
  • Biscoff Brownies
  • Strawberry Cheesecake

Drinks

  • Red wine
  • White wine
  • Beers
  • A selection of soft drinks

Getting ready for the evening. My itinerary for the dinner party

Planning is the way to go for any event and it’s even more doable when you have an itinerary in place. I wrote, rewrote and wrote again my list for things to prepare myself, house and things to do for the evening. Sounds a little extreme, but I didn’t get the nickname “Dannii the list,” for nothing you should know!

1 day before:

  • Baked 2 batches of brownies

• Did a final food update of what I had and wrote a list of what I still needed to get

  • Went to tesco
  • Defrosted food from the freezer
  • Peeled potatoes and added to pot of cold water
  • Chopped new potatoes in half and add to pot of water

On the day:

9-11.30am:

  • Diced the pork and mixed in with marinade.
  • Put pork in an airtight container and leave in the refrigerator
  • Went to Tesco (madly didn’t have time the day before!)

12pm:

  • Made the marinade for the ribs and add the ribs to the slow cooker – let slow cook for 7 hours
  • Made the strawberry cheesecake
  • Make the cucumber and chilli relish
  • Chill the wine, add beers to fridge

12pm:

  • Chopped the chicken and marinaded with yoghurt, lemon and oregano, put an airtight container in the fridge
  • Make the hummus
  • Make the tzatziki

4pm:

  • Boil both pots of potatoes. Drain and set aside.
  • Set the table with serviettes, drinks, glassware

5pm:

  • Shower, wash hair, do make up.
  • Hoover and tidy toys.

6-7pm

Glass of wine time!

Friends showed up just after 7pm and we had a great night. Admittedly I cooked too much but we ate that so it didn’t matter. I ate cheesecake every day for a week. Ha ha!

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