Posted by: dave | September 12, 2011

My kitchen rule

We had some friends over for lunch on Saturday and I think I’ve finally worked out how to cook for people. Yes I can cook, but for years having people for dinner or lunch was a mite stressful because I’d tend to look through cookbooks until I saw something that looked AMAZING and decide I had to cook that for my friends.

The trouble being that the AMAZING recipes are always the ones that involve lots of last-minute pan-frying, or sauce reduction, or some other sort of process that keeps you chained to the stove. I’d then add several side dishes that are simple on their own but a pain in aggregate, and once starter and dessert was in place you had a massive hassle and all I could do was drink wine and listen to everyone else when it was all cooked.

Now I knew that the secret to all this was preparing more simple meals. But I’d managed to convince myself that what I was planning was pretty simple, and indeed it was if you didn’t see having friends for dinner as a social event rather than practice for working in a busy commercial kitchen. Once I started talking to people and having fun, the whole match broke down.

Anyway, all that’s a roundabout way of saying that I’ve finally worked out that, when planning a meal for guests, you’ve basically got to set it up so that you’re wondering what you’ll be doing most of the time. There should be basically nothing that needs doing for an hour before people arrive. If it feels like there’s no work to do, there will probably be just about as much as you can take.



  1. When you Granny Betty had people in for a meal she was all prepared and sitting with a gin and tonic half an hour before her guests arrived. I have always felt this was a great idea and tried to imitate her!

  2. Roast dinners are brilliant for this reason. Unless you’re feeding vegetarians of course.

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