Feasts for friends

Feasts for friends

By
Rosie Birkett
Contains
9 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742709147
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

I’m a feeder. It’s in my blood.

Mum is the same, and still, whenever I return to the warmth of her house, she starts offering me something to eat the minute I get through the door. If she had her way I’d be eating sandwiches and drinking wine in the middle of the afternoon, for no particular reason (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

I remember being a child and marvelling at the dinner parties my parents used to host for their friends and our extended family. I used to creep around in my pyjamas, unable to sleep, peering curiously into the dining room to see trolleys of drinks, wooden boards oozing with cheese, and the glitter from candlesticks on the dining table, half-empty wine bottles and plates piled with food. Occasionally I was roped in to help, and I was the most eager of waitresses when it came to dishing out canapés to my parents’ guests – it was my way of getting in on the action and sneaking mouthfuls when no-one was looking. These dinner parties always felt like an exclusive, alluring adult world of enchantment, and I longed for the days when I would be old enough to sip from a cut crystal glass and eat vol-au-vents.

Of course, by the time I was old enough to host my own dinner parties and lavish my pals with food, all of this formality had become terribly passé. If I folded napkins into lily flowers and handed out devilled egg mayonnaise in pastry cases everyone would assume I was hosting an Abigail’s Party-themed dinner (which I fully intend on doing some time). We live in an age where a dinner party is just that – a real party – and I think food for entertaining should reflect this, so you can serve cocktails in jam jars (no one will cry if they get smashed), and pile platters into the middle of the table so folks can help themselves and pass them along. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to keep it relaxed so that you can get on with the important stuff like drinking and dancing with your mates. And who the room for a ‘dinner set’ these days?

While throwing a dinner party or cooking for friends should be all about generosity, deliciousness and abundance, it shouldn’t cost the earth, so in this chapter you’ll find ideas for feasts which don’t rely on expensive produce to please your pals. ‘Wow’ dishes like the home-style porchetta or maple-braised pig’s cheeks might require a bit of time in terms of prep, but can then be left to slow cook while you get everything else ready, and are guaranteed to put a big smile on your guests’ faces – they’ve certainly gone down well at my supper clubs.

Then there are faster options like the smoky sweet chipotle roast chicken, which can be torn up at the table and loaded onto tortillas, while you tear into the margaritas. Break-up lasagne with radicchio, walnuts and dreamy Gorgonzola béchamel is bound to perk up even those with aching hearts, and can easily be made ahead, while top Indian chef Vivek Singh’s killer vegetable curry is the perfect fridge and store-cupboard dish to have in your arsenal for when guests pop over unexpectedly. All of these dishes are designed to serve generous portions to feed people who are as greedy as me.

Recipes in this Chapter

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