Hello Dear Reader,
Imagine this, you’re meeting up with friends and you want to treat them to lunch. You look for all the cheap options and think of the local carvery at the pub and find an offer on for £8.79 for the full Sunday lunch even though that’s before dessert and drinks. That seems a good deal doesn’t it? No washing up, turn up and eat and the six of you will be fed for £52.74. You think this is the best option as you’re not a confident cook. I believe you can feed people really well with a main course and dessert for under £2.30 per person. You can prepare it in advance and have very little to do or wash up when your guests are with you.
Braised lamb shanks with leek and potato mash with spring greens. All of this was prepared in advance and all I had to do when our guests arrived was steam the greens.
Lamb Shanks – £1 each at my local butchers – they are small but there’s enough for every one. I bought seven and the men had another half each.
500g of peeled and chopped carrots.
1garlic bulb, peel and cloves placed in whole.
3 roughly chopped red onions.
2 Tesco Everyday value stock cubes and 500ml of boiling water,
8 bay leaves – from the hedge in my garden.
2 mugs of red wine (I buy wine in France and pay just over a euro a bottle).
Brown the lamb shanks in a pan with two tablespoons of oil.
Place in casserole dish with all the other ingredients.
Seal tightly with a lid or foil lid.
Cook at 180 for three hours.
I thickened mine with a tablespoon of gravy granules.
Leek and potato herby mash.
2 large potatoes per hungry adult or 1 medium sized for fat fighters.
6 leeks – I buy my veg from Aldi or Lidl and usually pay about 79p for them
Slice and wash the leeks
Peel and diced the spuds
Boil the potatoes and mash with some butter, thyme and pepper.
Saute the leeks in a small amount of butter.
Combine and place in casserole dish – this can be done the day before and you can reheat by warming in the oven for the last hour of the lamb cooking.
You can have any veggies with this. We had some Cornish spring greens, which I very finely slice and steam.
The dessert was a White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake. You can make this the day before.
200g of digestive biscuits – blitz in food processor or crush in a plastic bag by using a rolling pin.
50g of butter or marg.
400g of cream cheese – softened
100g of caster sugar.
Zest of one lemon
1 sachet of gelatine- sprinkled over 50ml of hot water and stirred until disolved.
200g white chocolate – I buy Tesco everyday value or Lidl’s own brand and this usually costs 30p.
200ml of whipping cream – lightly whipped.
350g punnet of frozen raspberries – Aldi or Lidl are great for frozen fruit.
Icing sugar to sprinkle – optional.
1. Make a biscuit base by melting butter in a pan then stirring in the biscuit crumbs. Line the bottom of a spring form cake tin or loose bottomed tin. Press mixture into the bottom.
I use my Kenwood to do the rest, but a hand held electric mixer would do.
2. Mix the cream cheese, lemon zest and sugar.
3. Whip the cream.
4. Prepare the gelatine and melt the chocolate.
5. Combine altogether,
6. Gently fold in 150g of raspberries.
7. Chill for three hours – I made my cheese cake the day before.
8. Decorate with raspberries and sprinkle with icing sugar.
This could easily have been made into a three course lunch by adding a soup to start and some homemade bread. I love opening my home, being sociable and feeding friends. There’s no need to meet in a pub or restaurant and home catering does not need to be strenuous. The lamb, potatoes and cheesecake could all be made the day before. Table linen and cutlery can be found in charity shops and I think it’s fun when nothing matches. Pick something simple and create a ‘signature dish’ and practise it on your family occasionally. People are often happy to bring a dessert or cake and your friends will just be happy to be fed and not to have to wash up.
It’s easier than you think. My lunch, due to my bulk buys at the local butchers came in at £2.27 per person and there was plenty of the mash and spring greens left and Dearly Beloved and I will be having bubble and squeak for supper. I’m a great believer that you can eat really well and be sociable on a budget.
Over to you Dear Reader. What’s your signature dinner party dish? Who prefers to cook at home instead of flashing the cash at the cavery? Conversely, who feels that home catering is fine for your own family but doesn’t feel confident about feeding guests. Who remembers a special meal cooked by friends. I look forward to what you have to share.
Love Froogs xxx