Thursday, December 27, 2007

How about throwing a dinner party on New Year's Eve?

I don't know about you but I am not a big fan of the crowds on New Year's Eve and if you have a glass or two of champagne to celebrate with friends then the sensible thing to do is not drive. So, you have to also face the crowds trying to get onto public transport or compete to get that rare vacant taxi!

So, why not make it nice and easy on yourself and celebrate New Year's Eve at a dinner party at home with friends?

Have a look at any of the themes listed under the category column - my suggestion is to have a late(ish) dinner party and get friends to bring a plate for a buffet dinner.

Or, if there's only a few of you, maybe your friends could bring a course each? Or, maybe this is the night to try out a formal dinner party where you all dress up?

Have a fantastic night and here's hoping 2008 is a wonderful year for you and your loved ones.

You may be interested in this new year's party kit:

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

In the meantime, now is the time to start your magazine subscriptions for the year.
Check this out.

The Hostess with the Mostess

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas dinner

Now is the time we are all preparing for our Christmas meals.

Here in Sydney where we are in Summer and the weather is warm, people seem to be choosing cold seafood more and more for their family Christmas meal.

But then there are many who stick to the traditional turkeys and hams with all the trimmings.

Here's hoping your Christmas lunch or dinner will be wonderful and that you enjoy spending time with those you love.

I wish you all the very best for Christmas and the new year and will be in touch soon with more dinner party ideas.

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon. In the meantime, take a look at this chocolate hamper!

The Hostess with the Mostess

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Vietnamese dinner party idea

Imagine your friends walking into the dining room you have lit with red paper lanterns and candles. The sound of traditional Vietnamese string music playing softly in the background and the smell of some Vietnamese aloes wood incense or another fragrance that touches your senses without being too over powering - a subtle fragrance but one that makes you feel you're in another far off part of the world. A warm and peaceful atmosphere.

It's not hard to understand why the Vietnamese food experience has become hugely popular therefore making a great dinner party theme - whereby the theme of the evening's meal focuses solely on Vietnamese flavors. A dinner party where a selection of Vietnamese dishes sit at the center of your table and which are shared with your guests.

The vitality of Vietnamese cuisine revolves around fresh produce. The food is light, delicious and easy to digest. It has a "clean" feel. A typical meal for the average Vietnamese family usually consists of bowls of rice for each person and a selection of other dishes that are shared communally around the table.

This selection of dishes generally includes a roasted meat or fish dish and a stir fried vegetable dish. Prepared fish sauce and/or soy sauce dipping sauces always accompany these meals. Vietnamese cuisine also boasts a huge variety of noodle soups and rice paper rolls (that your guests can roll for themselves). The rolls offer a large variety of fillings and are served with a delicious dipping sauce.

So, the food is perfect for Winter and Summer!

In Winter you could host a pho soup party! The lovely thing is that you serve individuals the delicious soup in their own bowl but centrally place a selection of fresh Vietnamese mint, regular mint, bean sprouts, basil, cilantro (coriander), chillies and lime or lemon wedges around a serving platter. Guests select whatever takes their fancy and add to their pho soup finally squeezing in the citrus juice before the delicious taste experience even hits their mouth.

You can pick up Asian soup spoons inexpensively from Chinese stores along with chopsticks which can be used to select the herbs they'd like to add to their soup (as opposed to using their fingers).

For summer, try the roll your own Vietnamese Banh Hoi rice paper rolls. Again, at the centre of the table is a plate presented with softened vermicelli rice noodles, thinly sliced carrot sticks, cucumber slices, basil, Vietnamese mint, regular mint and cilantro and sprouts and a dish of rice-paper wrappers.

A small bowl filled with warm water allows your guests to soften their burrito-sized rice paper sheet before they start adding the ingredients and roll their own roll. This is really a great and fun experience to share with your friends.

Apart from these ingredients you serve the amazing flavors of grilled shrimp paste on sugarcane prawns or grilled flat beef, chicken or pork or grilled cleaned shrimp and squid just cooked on a skillet. Or tofu if you want a completely vegetarian meal. Then there's the lovely sweet dipping sauce that tops off the flavors. Also Summery is the famous green papaya salad, Goi Du Du.

The sweet, salty, and spicy, nuoc cham is the indispensable sauce of Vietnam's cuisine. Here's a recipe:

The famous nuoc cham Vietnamese Dipping Sauce:

1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fermented fish sauce
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon minced jalapeƱo chili with seeds

Stir all the ingredients thoroughly in a medium bowl until the sugar dissolves. Let the sauce stand for at least half an hour. You can make this sauce a day ahead so the flavors really blend together if you like and serve slightly chilled.

There's a huge selection of other dishes you can serve if you want to serve the traditional meal I spoke of earlier.

For dessert you could serve a tropical fruit platter, banana fritters with ice cream or a sticky rice with mango. Again, there is a large variety to choose from.

I love good food and good wine and I love to socialize. Dinner parties give me the opportunity to indulge both my passions. I love dinner parties so much that I host a blog which provides ideas for your next dinner party. They provide such a great way to catch up with the important people in your life.

People love to be invited to dinner parties because they can enjoy an excellent event of great food and company and all it costs usually is a bottle of wine - and maybe a taxi fare home. But it's not about the money - it's just great to be spoiled by your hosts.

Here's the recipe book I would recommend:

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

The Hostess with the Mostess

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Thai dinner party idea

Have you thought hosting a Thai dinner party?

Thai food is delicious and it doesn't take long to prepare.

Here in Sydney, Thai food is so popular that it's probably the most frequented restaurant in terms of foreign cuisines here.

But you can still enjoy great Thai food in the comfort of your own home (you can even buy it and heat it up). Why rush when you can spend hours chatting and catching up - not feeling like you have to leave so someone else can have your table?

But the enjoyment for me is in the cooking of the meal - knowing that my guests are enjoying something I have prepared.

You have some many choices - spring rolls, money bags, fish cakes for a starter - for main Pad Thai or a stir fry and some steamed rice with a tropical fruit platter for dessert or stick rice. You really have so many choices. All you need to do is look at the menu of your local Thai restaurant and the recipes are easy to find.

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon. In the meantime check out this wonderful Thai recipe book:

The Hostess with the Mostess

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Delicious seafood dinner party idea

You may want to consider a seafood platter/buffet for your next dinner party idea.

A seafood platter is often a real treat for people when ordered at a restaurant so you can imagine your friends' delight if you decide to serve them this meal at your next dinner party together.

The first thing I'd suggest when considering this idea is to make sure you have checked that your guests actually like seafood first. You don't have to ask them directly if you'd like to surprise them with a seafood platter - you could simply ask if there is any food that they don't like or can't tolerate (remember, a lot of people are allergic to seafood).

The platter could consist of anything from oysters, prawns (shrimps), crabs and lobster (or crayfish) for a cold platter or you can add some hot seafood like fish fillets, calamari rings, scallops and baby octopus. Try to buy all of your seafood on the day on which it is to be served. If you are serving a combined platter, make sure you keep the cold seafood in the fridge until just before serving so nothing goes off.

Pre set your table for each guest with a large dinner plate and also small bowls filled with warm water and a lemon wedge. This would be used for people to clean their fingers after taking off shells, etc. Be sure that there's a quality cloth serviette for each guest since they'll be rinsing their hands with the warm water and using the serviettes to dry their hands. If you are serving crab, it's great to be able to offer claw crackers to each guest so they can break open the legs and harder shells. Here's an example:

Be sure to have a large bowl in the middle of the table for shells to be placed within as people peel the prawns or crack open the crab or lobster - a place also to discard oyster shells.

On your platter you can include natural oysters along with garnished oysters (add some salmon row for instance) to the platter or try some of the following:

- Oysters lightly grilled with a dill, lemon and caper butter finish
- Oyster grilled with a tomato and onion relish and a little haloumi cheese
- Oyster Kilpatrick (grilled with julienne bacon and Worcestershire sauce)

If you are adding other hot seafood to your platter, I would suggest barbecuing the seafood (or any grill is fine).

Be sure to brush or spray any seafood lightly with olive oil before you grill it so it doesn't stick. Make sure your grill is very hot before you cook the seafood. If you are using a barbecue with heat beads, wait until they have turned a whitish-gray before cooking - this can take 45-60 minutes so make sure you have properly timed this into your schedule. If food has been refrigerated bring it to back to room temperature before cooking. White fish will only take around a minute to cook.

Prawns with the flavor of a barbecue taste delicious and char-grilled baby octopus is always popular but you must remember not to overcook these as they will become chewy and rubbery.

Marinades are great and very popular for seafood but if you don't have time for this, the seafood cooked in their own juices are tasty too. Marinades are liquid bases that you season to marinate food in before cooking and this method allows foods to absorb the flavors - and makes the food tenderer.

Try to use a glass or ceramic bowl for the liquid then place the seafood within this allowing it to marinate in the fridge. Drain the food well before placing in onto the barbecue. Remember to stir the food in the marinade a few times (one or twice an hour) so each piece gets a good covering. Rather than pour the marinade over the food when cooking, brush the remaining liquid on while cooking the seafood otherwise it may cause a flare up.

You can marinate prawns for as little as 20 minutes in a mixture like this if you are time poor:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon chili paste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
a squeeze of lime juice
2 crushed garlic cloves

In fact, if you create any seafood marinade it will usually include ingredients like olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and garlic (this is always a great base for a marinade) and marinate for three or four hours for best results.

When you've finished cooking, place everything tastefully onto a large platter and add some lemon wedges or some barbecued lime slices (thickly cut lime slices cooked face down until they are brown in color).

Imagine the faces on your guests as you carry out a platter brimming with delicious seafood. Place it in the middle of your table which has been nicely laid out with a crisp table cloth and a stylish floral center peice.

The great thing with seafood is that it's fairly light so it's ideal for either lunch or dinner indoors or out.

And don't forget the rule - white meat goes with white wine and red meat is best served with red wine. Find out more about matching food and wine here
ChateauOnline-Europes leading online wine merchant

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

The Hostess with the Mostess

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Arabian nights - dinner party idea

As Featured On Ezine Articles

One of the most fun dinner parties I have ever been invited to had a Middle Eastern theme and it was sensational.

The reason it was so fabulous is that the hostess went to a lot of trouble to make the experience authentic.

When my partner and I arrived, the living room had been transformed - the room was lit only with candle light and a variety of cushions had been spread around the room. There was a lovely scent in the air - not too powerful. It must have been some sort of incense. The room looked totally different to the way it normally looked. I almost forgot I was actually at my friend's house.

The background music was gentle but had that Middle Eastern beat to it - it was like Arabic chill-out music - very smooth indeed.

She'd also hung some rugs or material over the walls. It almost felt like being inside an Arabian tent - I have a warm feeling just reminiscing about it... because it had this really mystical feel to it.

I can barely remember what we ate because the atmosphere and what we had in store way over took and made the lasting impression

I do recall that on arrival we were given a glass of bubbly and could select appetizers from trays laid out with tempting dips like baba ghanoush (eggplant dip) and hummos (chick pea dip) and pitta and Lebanese breads that had been cut into smaller pieces, sprayed with olive oil and then lightly baked until crisp. There were also stuffed vine leaves along with a selection of pickled vegetables. I know my friend bought these rather than made them herself - recipes are available on the Internet for free if you want to do something similar and cook the food yourself.

These stuffed grape leaves are always popular and inexpensive:

We of course were all given small plates and serviettes and sat comfortably on the cushions mingling, eating and chatting. The experience had an incredibly soft and laid back feel. We'd all brought a bottle of wine so enjoyed a glass with the food.

Once we'd got through the starters my friend brought out some more dishes - felafels, lentils with spinach and some stuffed eggplant and tomatoes. Again, these were bought from a Lebanese take away restaurant and heated just prior to being served.

By this stage we were all feeling very full and content.

Then something magical happened - gradually we heard the music getting louder and louder - the beat was getting faster and then out of another room a belly dancer appeared and came dancing into the room.

She looked stunning - she had the full belly dancing costume on and her make-up was amazing - and her moves made me feel very envious (in the nicest possible way). She put on quite a performance, even producing a sword and doing the "sword' dance.

Toward the end of her show, guests were invited to join her but we were not put under any pressure. A couple got up and it was fun to see people having such a good time. Can you believe we got to see this sort of entertainment at a friend's house during a dinner party?

After the show, my friend served Turkish coffee and Turkish Delights which proved a lovely light way to finish off the meal.

It was such a great night that I'd highly recommend this idea to anyone who wants to make their dinner party memorable - just as this dinner party was for me. Afterwards, my friend told me she'd been taking belly dancing lessons and had found out who could do a show - it didn't cost her much but she said it was well worth every cent to see the delight on the faces of her guests.

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

The Hostess with the Mostess

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Dinner party ideas - host a murder mystery?

This is a popular dinner party idea .

And the great thing is that you can buy kits like the one I've listed here that comes with just about everything you need except the food itself. Why not try this novel and unique idea..

You see, most people like to play adult games but in this sort of dinner party, you are a part of the game yourself.

This Vegas mystery brings new meaning to Wedding-Day Blues. The deck is stacked against wealthy casino owner, Blackjack White, when he's shot dead by a member of the wedding party. Comes with a complete party planner, invitations, costume and menu suggestions, clues and more! Mystery dinner party game for 6 to 8 players.

Eat, Drink, and Be Married (Murder Mystery Party)

Or, if you want to cook pasta, here is the ideal game:

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

The Hostess with the Mostess