Last night my husband’s parents came over for dinner. I won’t lie – I spent a lot of this week freaking out over it. I have a great relationship with my in-laws, but who doesn’t get a twinge of nerves at the thought of entertaining their partner’s parents?
Dave and I rarely entertain, especially over mealtimes. I tend to get a little too obsessive about how tidy the house is and whether or not everyone’s happy and comfortable and whose drink needs topped up and is everyone warm enough and what if there’s an awkward silence and what if I’m being a terrible host… honestly, often I find that it just isn’t worth the stress. Still, a get-together with either of our parents has been long overdue, and both sets are always kind enough to invite us to their house. It was definitely our turn.
We decided to keep the food simple. As we usually do on the rare occasions when we feed people at home, we played to our strengths. Dave did the main and I made the dessert.
For the main, Dave made lamb shanks in red wine and garlic sauce, with mash and veg. As I didn’t have much involvement in it, I only managed to steal a couple of pictures before he popped it on to cook. We’d never made lamb, but we pretty much followed this recipe and avoided deviating from it as we hadn’t used it before. In ten minutes, Dave had chucked all the ingredients for the lamb in to the slow cooker, popped it on for eight hours, and commenced chilling out for the rest of the day.
Can I just take a moment to recommend slow cookers if you don’t have one yet? Seriously, if you’ve got the cash going spare for one of these, get one. This meal was so low-hassle and created hardly any dishes, and you can cook curry, stew, fajitas, and all sorts of other meals while you’re out at work or going about your day. I’m told you can actually make a cake in a slow cooker, too, but I haven’t tried that yet!
The lamb came out of the cooker once dave had made the mash, and the meat pretty much fell off the bone while we were trying to plate it up. It tasted amazing and the lamb cut like butter, and I’m already looking forward to making it again some time. Good job, Dave, and thanks for the recipe, Delicious Magazine!
As I said, I was in charge of the dessert. The basic recipe I used is this one, and there you can find exact measurements and instructions. It calls itself a torte, but I had always thought a torte was supposed to have gelatin in it. Either way, this is a really hard recipe to get wrong, and as you’re about to see it’s really easy to adapt to your own taste. The original recipe doesn’t have a base, but honestly I think a base improves it immensely. I just made one up but it works fine.
To make the base you’ll need:
1.5 packets of Oreos
50g dark chocolate
Before you start on the linked recipe, crush up the oreos in a bowl while you melt the chocolate and butter. Bind it all together, and voila! Easy peasy base mixture.
Press it into the bottom of a cake tin so that it’s about a centimetre thick, stick it in the fridge, and get started on the above linked recipe for the creamy filling. The recipe uses coffee and cinnamon, but in the past I’ve swapped these out for essence of peppermint, orange, and vanilla, depending on who I’m feeding.
Anyway, melt your chocolate in a bowl with your golden syrup and a quarter of your cream, while you whip the rest of your cream with the coffee and cinnamon (or whatever you replaced these with). When the chocolate is melted and allowed to cool until barely warm and your cream is whipped up, fold them together until silky.
Take your cake tin out of the fridge, fire the cream mixture on top of the base, and smooth off the top before popping it back in the fridge for at least an hour.
Once it’s set, dust a bit of cocoa powder over it and serve it! We had it with mint chocolate chip ice cream.
It went over really well altogether, and I actually think I’d be happy to entertain again soon. My main tips, I suppose, if you’re apprehensive about hosting but would like to try:
- Keep it simple -if you’re nervous about hosting, the last thing you need is to be stressing out about your food going wrong too. If you want to make something new, don’t overcomplicate things and give yourself added pressure. Pick something straightforward. You’ll enjoy the experience a lot more if you know you have things under control.
- Prepare early – if you’re hosting on a day that you aren’t working and you have the time, start getting your ingredients together in the morning. That way you only have to finish everything off later. Nothing worse when you have guests coming over than to still be rushing around when they’re due in five minutes! If you’re very busy, some things can be prepared the night before.
- Remember that nobody is judging you as much as you’re probably judging yourself. Chances are good that you’re your own worst critic, and your guests are probably just delighted that you’re having them over! Have fun!
What about you? Have you found any failsafe, tasty recipes lately? Let me know!