What are 3 things that are needed to host a fun & fabulous dinner party?
A relaxed vibe with good music, simple to serve meals for a chilled host (room temperature sides are good because they can be prepared in advance), and of course beautiful table linen to dress up the dinner and show your guests it's a special night.
When you are hosting, how do you decide the menu?
I pick a cuisine, usually Italian, and go from there. I'll open a Google Doc and jot down what I'm thinking of serving so I can make sure each dish complements each other, then copy-paste all my recipes into there and work off my laptop on the kitchen bench as I cook.
What are your fail-safe recipes that you always know will be a crowd pleaser?
My never-fails are often sides and starters! Fresh pastas (my favourite) can be tricky to make for larger groups, so I love simple grazing dishes like my tomato, mozzarella and peach salad, a simple balsamic and green leaf salad, mushrooms cooked in creme fraiche with pangratatto, and my rosé pasta (using a short, dried pasta which makes it easy to cook and serve) are in the top 4.
What are your top tips for creating a beautiful dining table?
If I'm hosting a big party, I do as much as I can the night before to alleviate any stress on the day, that way I can focus on cooking! I'll iron my table linen and set the table completely if we are eating indoors. This gives me enough time to make sure I'm happy with the tablescape combination I've chosen too. To make it beautiful, a tablecloth and napkins trump an undressed dining table and paper towels any day. I always love to have candles burning, even if it's only one single taper candle, it just creates a mood. Flowers also take it to another level, but I like to use small vases because I'm conscious that sometimes a beautiful tablescape can compromise some of my guests comfort by not leaving enough room on the table for food.
And now for her easy recipe!
Peach, Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella Salad
- 1 peach, sliced
- 250g heirloom tomatoes and/or cherry tomatoes, cut into pieces
- Handful basil leaves
- 200g fresh mozzarella, torn (buffalo mozzarella is best if you have access to it)
- Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
- Salt flakes
- Gently layer peach and tomato in a salad bowl or on a platter
- Sprinkle over half of the basil leaves, then top with mozzarella
- Generously drizzle extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle over salt flakes and top with more basil
We hope these help with your next hosting endeavour!
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