Hassle free entertaining
Justine relies on her freezer so much so that she wrote a book about it. It’s especially useful when people are coming round on a day when you have little time to cook, or you want them to really relax and chat over three courses. If you can whip a brilliant soup, elegant main course or velvety dessert out of the freezer, or even just save hob space by producing some vegetable sides from the icy depths, you’ll cut down drastically on time and hassle.
- Prepare as much as you can in advance. Pottering about with the radio on when you have a bit more time is vastly preferable to rushing about on the day. Choose recipes that don’t need lots of last-minute attention.
- If you’re going to be pausing before finishing the prep and cooking – maybe making a marinade or whipping cream in advance, then finishing the dish later – make sure you’ve got space in the fridge to store the components safely.
- In our test kitchen, the ingredients for each dish we’re going to try are meticulously weighed or measured and set out before we begin. We are not going to suggest you put everything into little bowls. But it helps to make sure you’ve got everything to hand before you start. This cuts down on panicked mid-recipe trawls through the cupboards for that essential ingredient and helps your prep to be as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
- Why not try eating family-style? It is sociable, much less faff than plating up individual meals. Bringing a big dish from oven to table is a lovely, welcoming gesture that also reduces the hassle for you when it comes to presentation and allows your guests to get involved and start chatting.
- If you have a guest with an allergy, intolerance or special diet, it’s thoughtful to make the main dish something they can eat and then provide extra garnishes for those who aren’t restricted.
- Don’t give yourself too much to do. Cooking time is finite and you don’t want to be locked away in the kitchen when people arrive. If you’re trying a new main course practise it in advance or stick with easy, quick side dishes so you’re not trying to do lots of things at once.