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22 MIN READ TIME

HOW TO HOST A DINNER PARTY without losing your mind

ILLUSTRATION: ISTOCK/GETTY IMAGES

When I was in my early 20s, I threw a dinner party to which I had invited some older, much grander people. I made a wedding’s worth of canapés so elaborate they would have looked a little too try-hard at The Ritz, and a main course that demanded all kinds of sweaty, last-minute faff. I’d more or less survived the death-by-showing-off trial of the first two courses, when I returned to the kitchen to get the pudding.

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About delicious. Magazine

Join us this month at delicious. as we celebrate 20 years of River Cottage with Hugh F-W and friends. Plus, we have Peruvian-Japanese cooking from Flesh & Buns, a lamb dish that's doubly good – it’s a roast and a curry, three classic, comforting pies and Richard Bertinet’s brilliant breads. You’ll also find out how to host a successful dinner party and discover the truth about protein – why is it such a big deal? There’s also a beautiful Mother’s Day bake and all the expert know-how to take your cooking to the next level.

Other Articles in this Issue


Delicious UK
The hungry gap – that’s what March is known as. Why?
FAD-FREE insight ■ DEBUNKED food ■ health news ■ HEALTHFUL
Weeknight family meals reinvented – lighter but still packing a flavourful punch
Use up those extra roasties from Sunday lunch in this quick traybake
A smart supper for one that’s ready in 20 minutes and won’t break the calorie bank
Get your oily fish quota with this tasty, no-fuss dish inspired by Japanese flavours
Think of stuffed jackets as compact flavour bombs – perfect weeknight comfort food
Make this simple French-style poached chicken when you have a bit of time, safe in the knowledge you’ll have the makings of a tasty little pilaf up your sleeve when time is short
This clever tofu spin turns the trendy Japanese curry into a meat-free midweek treat
At a restaurant in Sardinia, we tried a dish in which the pasta was cooked in red wine. It might sound strange but it works
It’s simple to transform a storecupboard staple into four moreish meals
The world has gone protein mad. Supermarket shelves are stacked with products containing added protein, from bottled water and coffee to energy bars and noodles. So what’s with the mania, asks Sue Quinn. Should we all be eating more? Or is it possible to consume too much?
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Our star email this month wins a £75 voucher from wine
NEWS, NIBBLES OF KNOWLEDGE AND GOOD THINGS TO DO RIGHT NOW
The inspiring chef and food writer on Lancashire favourites, cooking for one and the importance of getting it right
How do you decide what to buy? Everything you see and read about here has been chosen from the hundreds of products we see, test and try out. Only the most useful, most beautiful and best value for money make the final cut
Keeping your cool when you have a tableful of hungry, expectant guests is a skill that’s worth cultivating. Fortunately, says queen of the dinner party Debora Robertson, there are a few tricks of the trade. Live by these rules and put an end to culinary flaps forever
Susy Atkins’ pick of the bottles this month, plus the best matches for oysters
THE COURSE Indian Street Food, £118 for one day (includes
In the Indonesian island’s lush, peaceful interior, Les Dunn finds vivid green rice terraces, eco-friendly coffee plantations and, despite the pressures of the modern world, people carrying on their lives in a way that respects centuries of tradition
WHY IT’S GREAT Poised on the edge of the Yorkshire
They’re one of the major food groups, essential to a balanced diet and our wellbeing – and we love them. So who decided to condemn carbohydrates as a dreaded ‘guilty pleasure’? Laura Goodman appears for the defence
OTHER GOOD THINGS
Editor Karen Barnes invites you to a fourcourse feast at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons to meet Raymond Blanc and enjoy a private tour of the stunning gardens
Get two years for the price of one
Be inspired at Lainston House, near Winchester
…and win a hotel stay with dinner
Don’t let this month’s special ingredients linger in your kitchen. Instead make the most of them with these smart and easy ideas
YOUR RECIPE INSPIRATION
Pie making is one of the most useful skills to master, and the idea of combining a rich, meaty filling with a satisfying topping is one to warm the heart. Plus: a homemade pie is the best feelgood timesaver to have on standby in the freezer for those busy-day moments
Who could refuse a murder mystery western and a fiery Texan-style chilli? Kay Plunkett-Hogge (food writer) and Fred Hogge (movie buff) serve up another star combo for a great night in
With its Japanese-Peruvian flavours, this dish is from the new branch of my restaurant Flesh & Buns, which specialies in Nikkei cuisine. That’s the cooking of the Japanese diaspora who’ve lived in South America since the 19th century. Peru has a long coastline, so seafood is abundant. A toban is the earthenware pot that’s traditionally used to cook and serve the dish, but you’ll be fine with a heavy-based pan that has a lid.
Spices are wonderful, mysterious and sometimes a bit scary, with even experienced cooks wary of using them wrongly. Dr Stuart Farrimond demystifies these colourful, potent plant products and explains why using them with a bit of sciencey know-how can transform your cooking
It’s a roast AND it’s a curry… This slow-cooked, aromatically spiced lamb dish, created by Scotland’s Curry Chef of the Year, is the best of both worlds
In two short decades, River Cottage has become a force for good in the food world, influencing the way we eat and think. It’s also become a fertile ground for nurturing homegrown food talent. Katy Salter meets the man at the helm to hear about the journey so far, and talks to some of the people whose success has been shaped by the remote, magical spot in Devon
This is a place for team players – not for people who
This is a time when we’re all yearning for a bit of colour in our food as a counterpoint to the heartiness of traditional winter cooking. I hit the kitchen with a box brimming with good cheer in veg form, freshly harvested and still with soil clinging to leaves and roots. Using seasonal stars such as broccoli, leeks and root veg (not forgetting their iron-rich leafy tops – there’s no waste here), these vegetarian dishes are a celebration of our rich and fertile land… even when pickings are slim.
This month, Gill Meller is foraging for something wild, a little bit different and free – he’s firmly grasping the nettle, one of spring’s earliest greens
Feeling the need to escape to warmer, sunnier climes? If empty pockets and a full diary are keeping you from venturing to remote shores, the far-flung flavours in these recipes from our regular writer Georgina Hayden are the next best thing to being there
For cake-maker Laure Moyle, it was her father’s sweet tooth and love of chocolate that steered her passion for baking. This tart is emblematic of her childhood growing up in France
He’s a legend in the world of dough, and his latest book imparts a wealth of wisdom, with great-tasting sweet and savoury bakes for all skill levels. These are recipes that really do rise to the occasion
BE A BETTER COOK
When the delicious.team test recipes they often debate the best ways to do things, as well as answering questions that arise in the test kitchen. What are the best beef joints for slow cooking (and what’s jacob’s ladder)? What does goat taste like and where can you buy it? And what’s the simplest recipe for celebrating Pancake Day this month? It’s the kind of information you won’t find anywhere else and it can help take your skills and knowledge to the next level.
The fermented soya bean paste from Japan isn’t just for making miso soup, it adds rich umami flavours to all kinds of dishes
Orecchiette (‘little ears’) is a pasta shape popular
It’s simple but delectable: a soft shortbread-like base with a zingy citrus topping melding into it – a glorious bake for Mothering Sunday (or any day), made foolproof with our Key Steps for Success