Hosting, with the right recipes and guidance, needn’t be a stressful or difficult experience. Hosting meals and dinner parties can be a relaxed and enjoyable experience with these 5 easy recipes.
Mushroom and Leek Pie
Pie is an excellent choice of meals for when you’re hosting, as it can be prepared and kept in the fridge ready for the oven when you need it. As for the filling, I love mushrooms but they simply have to be thinly sliced otherwise they’re chewy and awful. Also, the recipe for this meal calls for milk in the filling but you can either use half milk half cream or all cream depending on the mood. The pie is an excellent meal when served simply with potatoes, peas and gravy.
250g plain flour
1oog cold butter, cubed
250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 leeks, trimmed, washed and sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Some oil and butter
2 tsp mixed herbs
2 tbsp flour
First, make the pastry. Making sure your butter is straight out of the fridge, put it in a bowl with the flour. Rub the butter into the flour until all mixed together and the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Then add two tablespoons of ice-cold water and mix to form a dough, if it needs more water to bind, add it a teaspoon at a time. Now take your dough, wrap it in cling film and set aside in the fridge for later and preheat your oven to 180 C and place a tray on the shelf for your pie to heat (this prevents a soggy bottom).
Now, for the filling heat a large knob of butter and drizzle of oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add your mushrooms and fry until they get some colour. Then add your leeks and cook until the leeks have broken down and are soft. Now add your mixed herbs, a large knob of butter and season with salt and pepper generously.
Next, you need to make your filling into a sauce. To do this, sprinkle your flower into your leek mixture and stir through thoroughly. You need to ensure your flour has been fully cooked out to get rid of its raw flavour, so keep stirring it through or about 2 minutes. Now, pour in your milk slowly whilst stirring it through your filling, it will become a thick mixture with a dropping consistency.
Now, get out your pastry from the fridge, cut it into two pieces, one piece a third the other two thirds. Flour your worktop and your rolling pin well and roll out the two pieces to the thickness of a pound coin. Remember to start with your rolling pin in the middle of your dough, the roll up and down and side to side, picking up the pastry regularly and rotating it. This will ensure your pastry is a uniformed thickness and it doesn’t stick.
Then, take a deep dish (any shape) line it with your larger pastry piece, pour in the filling and top it with your other pastry piece. Connect the edges of your pie wither with your fingers or a fork, crimping the edge for presentation purposes if you want. Now, brush the top with some milk (I don’t use an egg for this as I think it’s a waste but you can if you want to) and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is golden and when you pierce the middle with a knife and when taken out that knife is hot to the touch, it’s done.
Take it out the oven, admire its golden majestic beauty, let it sit for about 10 minutes then serve.
Enchiladas is an ideal meals option for guests as the preparation is quick and easy and they can be reheated about 20 minutes before dining, perfect if you are hosting. In fact, like a lot of dishes, they taste even better heated up the next day. This recipe uses sweet potato and chickpea as the main filling, as I think they’re very good at taking on the flavour of the spices but you can alter the recipe to anything.
4 large tortillas
Some oil and butter
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp each of mixed herbs, chilli powder, cumin and smoked paprika
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced to a similar size to chickpeas
1 tin of chickpeas
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
Some cheese for topping
Preheat your oven to 200 C
Start with the sauce and filling. On a medium heat, heat some oil and a knob of butter in a pan and sweat (to cook without adding colour) the onions till soft. Then, add the garlic and fry for about a minute. Now, add your tomato puree and cook that for a minute. A lot of people don’t do this but you really need to. Uncooked, just added to a sauce, tomato puree retains the bitterness tomatoes can sometimes have.
Then, add all your herbs and cook the mixture for a couple of minutes to bring out the full-bodied flavour of all those spices. Add your sweet potato and chickpeas to this and stir, coating both in the spicey red mixture. Then, add your tinned tomatoes (fill the empty can with some water, swill it around and pour that in too) lower the heat slightly and leave whilst you prepare the tortillas.
What you need to do now is toast your tortillas, that way they provide their best flavour in the dish. If you have an electric hob, on the biggest ring heat a large frying pan with no oil on its highest heat and toast each tortilla on both sides, till it’s toasted and slightly golden.
However, if you have a gas hob you can do this step a bit more authentically. Turn on the biggest ring and, with caution and a pair of tongs, place the tortilla directly onto the flame and flip it regularly till both sides are toasted and have bubbled slightly. Of course, if you don’t want to do this just heat a pan as said above but the direct flame is the best way.
Now, take an oven dish and line the base with some of the sauce. Then place one tortilla at the side your dish and fill the centre with a couple of heaped spoonfuls of the filling and fold the tortilla in half or wrap it into a cylinder if they’re not too hot. Repeat this with the other tortillas, going across in a row and reserving enough sauce to cover the tops. Then, pour the rest of the sauce on top and grate some cheese onto this generously and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling.
Take it out, let it sit for about 5 minutes then serve.
Roasted vegetables and halloumi bake with pesto sauce
A traybake is one of those meals where you can simply take the tray out the oven, place it on the table where your guests wait in hungry anticipation and everyone can help themselves. The pesto sauce you can either drizzle on top before serving or in a pot on the table for people to serve themselves.
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces
300g green beans
2 red onions, peeled cut into wedges
2 blocks of halloumi, sliced thickly
500g new potatoes
2 tsp mixed herbs
1 tsp each of cumin, paprika and turmeric
4 tbsp pesto
Some butter and oil
Preheat your oven to 200 C.
The first step is to boil your new potatoes. You boil them whole because they need some pre-cooking before the oven, as they’re slightly larger than the butternut squash pieces and need more cooking time So boil some water in a kettle, pour into a saucepan with a teaspoon of salt and add your potatoes. Boil for about 10 minutes or until, when pierced with a fork, the fork goes in but slowly and with some tension.
Whilst they’re boiling add your squash, green beans and red onions to your tray. If your green beans are frozen, defrost them in the microwave on a plate for 2 minutes beforehand. Drizzle some oil on top and sprinkle over the herbs and spices. Mix all this together but with a spoon otherwise, your hands will go yellow from the turmeric.
Now, check on your potatoes and if they’re done drain them, but keep a large cup or mug full of the cooking water for the pesto sauce. Add the potatoes to the tray, mix them in and put the tray in the oven for 25 minutes.
Whilst that’s in the oven heat your reserved potato water, a large knob of butter and the pesto in a small pan on a medium heat till its a smooth and slightly runny sauce.
After 25 minutes and once the squash and potato are fully cooked, lay your halloumi pieces over the top of your vegetables, return to the oven until the halloumi is golden brown.
Finally, take it out of the oven, perhaps sprinkle with some fresh parsley if you gave some, and serve alongside the sauce.
Bruschetta 3 ways
Bruschetta is quick, easy and visually impressive which makes it the perfect meal for when you are hosting. By serving it with 3 different toppings it makes this often canape or starter into a main meal, and can be varied for different meals, excellent when served with a nice green salad.
2 large baguettes
Some olive oil
2 garlic cloves
2 beef tomatoes
A handful of fresh basil
1 red onion, very thinly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 can of chickpeas
1 garlic clove, minced or grated
1 tsp cumin
2 tbsp olive oil
Pesto pea topping
200g frozen peas
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 tsp pesto
2 tbsp mayonnaise
To begin, prepare your bread. Preheat the oven to 200 C the take your baguettes and slice then, on a slight diagonal, into about 1 inch thick rounds. Place the slices on a tray, drizzle with some olive oil and toast in the oven till golden brown. Then, once they’re out of the oven, take your garlic cloves and rub the top of the slices all over. This gives a divinely subtle background flavour of garlic.
Set aside your bread and prepare the fillings.
For the tomato topping, dice your tomatoes into about one-centimetre pieces, roughly chop or tear your basil and mix these in a bowl with your oil and onion. Season well with salt and black pepper, preferably from a pepper mill.
For the chickpea topping, on a board or plate, scatter out the chickpeas and on top put the garlic, cumin and oil. Then, with a fork, mash the mixture into a coarse paste. Keep it textured though, you’re not making hummus. Then season to taste.
To prepare the pea topping, put your frozen peas and garlic in a bowl, cover with boiling water and cook in the microwave till the peas are defrosted. Then drain and mix in your pesto and mayonnaise. The mayonnaise may sound odd but it adds a wonderful creaminess and works as the oil does in the other toppings, mayonnaise, after all, is just egg yolk and oil. Now, blend into a mushy paste with a hand blender or masher then season well.
Finally, top your baguette pieces with your toppings and place them on a nice and big-serving plate and the dish will subtly resemble the colours of the Italian flag. Serve with your side salad and enjoy.