Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Nothing is worse than getting stressed over entertaining, ending up spending all your time in the kitchen fretting while your guests get pissed without you. I've learnt the hard way. Over-ambitious dishes are no fun and it's important to plan ahead.
Jennifer Joyce is a girl after my own heart - in her new book she shows us how to entertain with ease. And Jennifer's entertaining is a little more sophisticated than just ordering in from Domino's and hoping for the best.
Meals on Heels is a party girl's bible. It's not only packed to the brim with glamorous sounding menu options (Crab, Saffron & Watercress Tart, anyone?), but each recipe has tips on how to make part, or all of the dish ahead, how to present it (Joyce is a food stylist) and what to serve it with.
The book is divided into the usual canapes, starters, mains, desserts, but what I found really handy was the introductory section which gives full menu ideas for different seasons of the year, plus tips on how to put together a balanced menu yourself and how much to feed people. There are some stylish touches, like wrapping lemon wedges in muslin tied with ribbon, so guests don't get pips in their food.
The recipes themselves are mouthwatering - Profiteroles with Salted Caramel Sauce, Mini Beef Wellingtons, Duck and Mango Salad, I could go on. I put the Goan Tomato and Coconut Fish Curry to the test and it went down very well indeed. Tasty, filling and, best of all, the entire curry sauce could be made ahead and refrigerated with only a final 5 minutes of cooking before serving.
The book feels very luxurious, with thick glossy pages (perfect for wiping curry splatters off!) and quirky illustrations. My one criticism is that, for all Joyce's food styling credentials and presentation tips, there aren't any photos to give you an idea how the finished dish should be presented.
However, the recipes are straightforward and easy to follow, without being dumbed down or boring. I'll certainly be referring back to it next time I'm panicking about feeding a crowd.
Meals on Heels is published by Murdoch Books and is available on Amazon for £7.78, RRP £12.99.