Homemade: Our first dinner party at the new place

Hey, sorry for skipping Foodie Wednesdays last week, but it was after all for a good cause. This week I’ll pick up on what I meant to post last week: our first dinner party at the new flat.

We used to invite friends over for dinner from time to time but since we moved, over two months ago, we’ve been busy fixing a few bits and bobs and didn’t have time until a couple of weekends ago. As we live in a flat it’s always tricky, space wise, so it’s really difficult to invite everyone in one go, still there were 16 of us and we had a blast.

I love being the host, and having people over, but it is one thing to invite a couple of friends, 16 people… that’s a whole different challenge.

Planning the menu, there’s a lot of things to take into account: number of people, food allergies, practicality – given there’s no place for everyone to sit, things like steak will never be a good option (remember Friends, the London wedding?). It’s also good to remember that you invited your friends over to spend some quality time together and with you, so avoid cooking anything that will demand your full-time presence in the kitchen.

With all of the above in mind, here’s the menu I came up with:

Tomato, Basil & Garlic Bruschetta
Goat’s cheese and honey in puff pastry
Ovos com farinheira (scrambled eggs with Portuguese sausage made of pork and flour)
Bread & Pâté

Bacalhau com Natas (Portuguese Creamy Codfish)
Meatloaf with Alheira and Spinach filling
(Alheira is a Portuguese type of sausage made of game meat)
Avocado and Prawn salad

Passion Fruit Cheesecake

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The good thing about all of the above, with the exception of the scrambled eggs, is that everything can (and was) prepped in advance. The Goat’s cheese puffs were placed in the oven 30 min before the guests arrived; once the starters were finished, I placed the meatloaf and the codfish in the oven for about 20 min. As it was already cooked it only needed heating up a bit. And as easy as that I didn’t have to spend the whole dinner in the kitchen.

My friends added a few things into the mix – a delicious green beans and fennel salad, a wonderful carrot cake, Ben & Jerry’s Ice cream which I ‘accidentally forgot to take out of the freezer’ (kidding, I literally forgot), fruit salad, bread and loads of booze (LOADS).
Everyone enjoyed and we had a great time.

I’ll post the recipes, over the next couple of weeks, except for the Creamy Codfish because I wrote it before – here. The only difference is this time I didn’t use prawns because one of my friends is allergic.

Here’s the recipes for the starters:

Goat’s cheese and Honey puffs (sounds funnier this way)

These are always a winner, taste amazing and are so easy to make.

Buy Creamy Goat’s cheese, Honey, Puff pastry (this is literally all you need). Make sure you buy enough puff pastry; each roll will allow about 8 medium size squares, 10 really small ones (which are harder to make).

Roll out the pastry and cut into identical squares.

Place one generous spoon of Goat’s cheese in the middle of a square, one teaspoon of honey on top and quickly cover it with another puff pastry square, before the honey starts slipping to the sides. Quickly ‘close’ every side of the square, making sure there are no gaps. This is important, otherwise you’ll be left with no honey inside and a very hard to clean oven tray. Repeat until there’s no more pastry.

I usually place baking paper in an oven tray and then spread the little squares. It takes about 30 min to bake, depending on size and oven power. Et voila. Delicious.

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Ovos com Farinheira

These seem to be everyone’s favourite when they come over. I guess because it tastes so heavenly, and probably very exquisite, comparing to other tastes. It’s a very Portuguese thing. Honestly I get requests for it now.

It’s dead easy to make as long as you can find a Farinheira, which in a different country, isn’t that easy. In London I buy it at the Lisboa grocery store in Goldborne Road, Nothing Hill.

Have some sliced bread ready.

For one Farinheira you’ll need 4 eggs. Boil water in a small saucepan and once it is bubbling, place the sausage inside. It takes about 5 minutes for it to boil. Remove the Farinheira from water and remove the skin. Mash the Farinheira, so it’s no longer in a ‘sausage shape’ but spread out in a plate instead.

Crack the four eggs into a bowl, add a pinch of salt and whisk.

Place a tiny bit of olive oil in a frying pan and add the Farinheira. Add the eggs and scrambled it all together.

Serve hot. Let people serve themselves to their own liking over some the sliced bread or crackers.

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For the bruschetta just google any ‘Bruschetta Tomato recipe’ and you’ll be fine. I particularly like this one, by Jamie Oliver, minus the black pepper of course.

Hope you enjoy. Next week: the meatloaf!

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