One of the motivations for moving into my own flat is so I could have people over without it feeling weird. Not that any of my previous flatmates would have minded, but I was always hyper aware that my having friends over pretty much put the living room/kitchen off limits. We have all had that moment of walking into a room in pajamas only to see your flatmate and friends gathered around a wine bottle or two.

But dinner parties are something I love, they are a shed load cheaper for people than going out to a restaurant and a lot more relaxing without the rest of London breathing down your neck. The problem has been that I am a complete newbie when it comes to cooking. I can cook a multi course feast under my Mums watchful eye (aka, she warns me when I am about to do something irreparably stupid) but on a normal day I struggle to feed myself without burnt bits, strangely runny bit and awkward flavours that never quite work. I mean I guess if I followed a recipe I might have more luck, but I don’t deal well with being told what to do…

Previously I knew that putting time in would work, the Christmas feasts take two days to prepare. But particularly in London no one has time to spend all day cooking, no one has time for anything, if I had to spend that long cooking I would never throw dinner parties. So instead I have just leapt in feet first and decided to figure it out along the way. Because SPOILER you only get comfortable cooking for other people….when you cook for other people.

I have had four dinner parties in my new flat and so far have not killed anyone (that I know of, if I have please let me know). Each time I do it I cut the time down by half (the Galentines dinner last night only took me an hour to cook and that includes cleaning the flat), I learn another little thing to make it easier and of course something goes wrong. So far over my collection of dinner parties I have learned:

  • Make the first person who arrived in charge of getting everyone else drinks as they arrive. Trying to get someone wine while the food is burning and you just got chili in your eye is less than fun.
  • Heat up your dishes (like whatever you serve the food in) before you put the food in, turns out that when you have a group of people food cools down really quickly.
  • Literally no one flatting in London has enough plates or cutlery for more than four people, people are happy to bring their own or steal from your closest friend.
  • If you keep drinking it won’t matter when all the food goes wrong

What I have learned is that even if the food does go terribly wrong people are NICE. They wont say anything because at the end of the day it is more about getting people together than perfect chef made food.  And I’m learning, each time I cook for someone else I am slightly less stressed, slightly less drunk, and enjoying it far more.

Sorry this turned into a ramble. What I meant to say was, you can’t expect to be good at something overnight and you can’t let inexperience stop you from having fun. If you want to have people over, start with paper plates and pizza and step by step work your way up.

And if anyone can tell me how to figure out how much food a group of people would eat it would be much appreciated, at the moment there is an equal chance of cooking twice the amount I need or everyone starving.

DK

DK has a new range of books out called ‘A little course in…’ and they are just what Generation Y has been looking for. For us kids there is no time to learn everything, but we also want to be experts. So what are we to do?

The DK books solve the problem. The ‘A little course in…’ books cover Baking, Preserving, Yoga, Pilates, Growing Vegetables, Wine Tasting, Sewing and Knitting. I purchased three (Baking, Preserving and Growing Vege) because they also come in digital editions for a mini mini £1 each.

Why the baking one I hear you say? Because no matter how many things I bake there is always the chance of miserable failure. After the amount of baking I have done, I largely put this down to the recipes.

I have attempted the Pinterest track, whereby you pin everything under the sun and then go hell for leather and MAKE ALL THE THINGS. Problem is that some of the recipes are just crap and the bloggers never actually tested them, or they are from America and don’t use any sort of same ingredients (FYI combining cake mix and pumpkin from a can does not mean you have baked a cake from scratch).

Normal recipe books aren’t much help either. Unless you bake one chefs recipes all the time and get used to their peculiarities (as an example, find a plain white bread recipe from each of the major celebrity chefs and see how much variation there is).

Whereas ‘A little course in Baking‘ has sensible step by step instructions, combined with pictures of what it should be looking like at each stage, and then goes on to give you other things you can make with the same method. And to stop us feeling like idiots  the books contain science pages to explain why it works. No only that but the Baking book actually contains a freakish amount of recipes – bread, brownies, cheesecake, cupcakes, biscuits, gateau and everything else you could want.

I highly recommend these for anyone wanting to try stuff and be good at it.

xx

DK