Friday, June 05, 2009

frugal friday

I do believe it's possible to be frugal and still entertain well. In winter, frugal dinner parties are even easier. Slow-cooked dishes and retro puddings are cheap and delight almost everyone's tastebuds. Combined with bargain bottles of good wine and champers, all you need to do is set the scene for a great night.

I always used to over-cater. If I was doing a cheese platter for nibblies it'd have four to five huge slabs of cheese, loads of pancetta, a massive dish of olives, quince paste, paté, a couple of different types of biscuit/bagel chips/grissini... But no more. Now, I'm aiming for an elegant sufficiency. 

I love to plan my menus as soon as my friend's have said 'yes' to my invitation. After asking about any allergies or dislikes I'll plot out my main and pudding - then think about a suitable nibbly to have with our pre-dinner cocktails/champagne. It might be fried slices of chorizo or haloumi, home-made marinated olives {simple: bowl, olives, garlic, chilli, lemon zest, herbs, olive oil}, maple-roasted mixed nuts or a simple dip and crackers. Then I usually choose a one-pot main with a potato side and a green and serve this with slices of baguette and butter. 

But now, I'm concentrating on portions. Most of us aren't used to eating more than one course, so realistically, each of those courses SHOULD be smaller than we're used to serving up. That's why I love individual puds in ramekins - perfect portions.

Pudding's whatever I feel balances out the main - or what I'm particularly craving lately... So long as the food comes out regularly, the wine's topped up, and there are bottles of water to balance the wine that's all a person can ask for.

Combined with a well-set table {I'll even bring out the iron and press my tablecloth and napkins to make it special} and attention to detail fun can be frugal.

Dinner party's aren't an opportunity to impress others with budget-busting complex dishes. I think they're a great chance to actually sit down and chat with people whose company you enjoy - while the kids eat and play together - and for me, it's a chance to cook dishes we wouldn't ordinarily have most nights of the week {pudding regularly would make me resemble a pudding dish!}.

1 comment:

  1. The BEST entertaining I have done has been over the cheapest and simplest meals. You do get good food but you also get to spend more time paying attention to your guests instead of worrying about fussy foods and fussy tables. I iron my linens, if I can afford it, buy some cheap and cute flowers, and make good food. I have an arsenal of cheap and good wines I keep in rotation. For very special occasions, I'll go for the good, expensive stuff, but I do like to just keep things low key for right now. Maybe when I'm a senators wife or something I can spend money on all white giganto floral arrangements and bottles of Cristal.


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