The Cookhouse

The Cookhouse, run by friends Emma Smith and Stephanie Wilson, is a cookery school based in Emma’s fabulous kitchen on Broomwood Road SW11. They run a range of practical, hands on classes that will show you how to whip up everything from weekend family meals to relaxed easy suppers or show-stopping dinner parties.

This month they have shared with us their tips for how to throw a dinner party without any stress……

We’ve all been there. Your guests are arriving in under an hour, you’re still slicing and dicing vegetables for the Chicken Marengo and the starter is that delicious and easy charcuterie platter that everyone loves but you’re a bit embarrassed because you’ve served it the last 3 times.

You imagine yourself as you’d like to be: fully dressed and lipsticked, putting out the napkins on the ready-laid table and lighting candles as your husband tees up the playlist on the Spotify.

If throwing a dinner party feels hideously stressful and complicated, we can help you out with some straightforward tips. Hosting at home can be fuss-free and fun – especially if you start the planning well in advance. And even if you’re not quite Nigella, Jamie or Gordon, your dinner party can still be fun for everyone – even you.

Choose your menu carefully
Even though the individually pan-fried scallop brûlées look divine in the book: just don’t! Avoid dishes that need more than the minimum of attention before you serve them. That way, your entire menu can be restaurant-worthy without any last-minute fiddle.The Cookhouse has a whole host of standout dishes that are put together in advance and leave both you and your kitchen looking party-ready and pristine.

Start early
Cooking for a large group takes longer than a meal for the family, and you’ll be doing several courses and extras. Give yourself a couple of hours more than you think you need. You’ll be glad of the extra time later when it comes to getting the children sorted before your guests arrive.

Do the hard work first
Try to get as much of the work out of the way ahead of time. It’s a real help to chop some of the vegetables the day before the party and to make baked puddings a couple of days ahead. Salad dressings and pre-dinner nibbles can usually be made the day before, too – they’ll just sit in the fridge, perfect happily until you’re ready to use them

Make sure that you have everything that you need
It makes sense to do your big shop the day before the party. But don’t forget to make sure that you have all the necessary kit as well. That way, you’ll avoid last minute rushing around on the day, trying to buy or borrow serving dishes or dessert forks – especially now that La Cuisiniere has gone.

Clean as you go
If you’ve done most of your preparation, your dinner party can be mostly just last minute cooking in the oven, and serving. The decks can be fully cleared before everyone arrives and, so long as you start with an empty dishwasher, clearing up becomes a piece of cake.

Don’t go overboard
Of course, you want to make all of the food. But it’s maybe not the time to hand-stuff the olives, make your own ciabatta or crystallise rose petals to decorate the cocktails. Concentrate your energy where it’s needed and reserve some so you can enjoy yourself too.

Last but not least, don’t take yourself (or your dinner party) too seriously. Nobody will mind if your tarte Tatins are a bit uneven or the drinks don’t come in Baccarat crystal. There’s no need to work yourself up over mistakes people probably won’t even notice. They’ll be too busy enjoying your company and your lovely food

The next Prepare-ahead Dinner Party course at The Cookhouse is on Tuesday, 17th March from 12.30 – 3. Over 2 1/2 hours, we’ll put together a four-course menu that you can recreate with confidence at home. You’ll leave with recipes and a schedule; hints, tips and skills; it’s really great fun too.

We’d love to offer anyone who mentions Clapham Mums a 10% discount. Just contact us direct at:
Have a look at our website for more details:

The Cookhouse kitchen is on Broomwood Rd, SW11. You can read more here about their latest courses.

Please call Emma or Steph 07941 260740 or 07974 214304 to reserve a space on one of their fabulous cookery lessons.

FACEBOOK: The Cookhouse Battersea
WEBSITE: http://thecookhousebattersea.comTheCookhouseLogo-1 small

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