I’ve grown rather fond of dinner parties of late. So far I’ve had a go at Japanese themed night, a sushi making evening, Mexican nights, a vegan friendly evening and lots of homemade pasta production lines - ending up with tasty rewards. The latest on my list is a tapas dinner party, complete with tiny plates of Spanish inspired treats and a steady flow of sangria. Rounding up of course, with homemade churros for dessert.
Platters of olives, manchego, Spanish meats, dried cannellini beans
Chorizo slow cooked in red wine
A mix of roast vegetables
Garlic and parsley butter gambas
My top tip of hosting a dinner party is to prepare as much of your meal in advance to avoid stressing out in the kitchen - when you should be sipping on sangria with your pals. My preparation began around midday by putting my chorizo in the slow cooker with a generous glug of red wine and set to slow cook for six hours. Simple enough! I then got on with my other tapas recipes…
For the Spanish meatballs
500g pork mince
2 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
One free range egg
For the meatball sauce
400g chopped tomatoes
2 tsp dried tarragon
1 tbsp red wine
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 garlic clove, crushed
Step one. Mix together your meatball ingredients and squeeze into roughly 40g balls. Lay on a baking tray and cook at 180 degrees c for 20-25 minutes.
Step two. Simmer together your meatball sauce ingredients for at least an hour. You can then set aside and bring the two together when your guests arrive!
For the vegetable paella
300g paella rice
Two garlic cloves, crushed
200ml vegetable stock
2 mixed peppers (I like red best!)
One red onion, chopped
100g frozen peas
100g frozen peas
2 tbsp smoked paprika
Step one. Firstly throw your paella rice and crushed garlic in a large sauce pan with a little oil. Move the rice around and toast it for around a minute, then add in 1/3 of your stock.
Step two. Tend to your paella, stirring and gradually adding stock for another half an hour.
Step three. Add in the vegetables and any leftover stock. You may need to add in boiling water here if it’s sticking. When the rice is full cooked, it’s ready. I then set aside for later.
Other tapas dishes on my menu included patatas bravas, gambas and roast vegetables. Again I wanted to beat the clock so boiled my potatoes ahead and roasted my vegetables in the oven too. These were simply tomatoes, aubergine and peppers with olive oil and seasoning - just getting my five a day in really! The only thing I didn’t want to reheat was the king prawns, so in this case I left those until the last minute and made a simple garlic butter and parsley sauce to cook them in.
I bought a few Spanish nibbles, olives, cheese and meat for my guests to indulge in right from the start. The platters were easy enough to rustle up and keep in the fridge - plus that way my family could tuck into the grub as soon as they walked in my door.
I also needed to be ahead of the dessert game! I wouldn’t ever want to leave my mum waiting on pudding… As churros dough is best made at the last minute, I improved my chances of pudding perfection by weighing out all my ingredients in advance and having my piping nozzle at the ready.
Full up with tapas, my guests were happy to wait whilst I worked, piping bag in hand, to create the Spanish style doughnuts. I then dusted them with a generous helping on cinnamon sugar and melted my chocolate sauce, which I had also made ahead.
In all it was a fabulous night (if I say so myself) and we most certainly ended up full. It may be a little stressful and scary at first to host a dinner party, but with a little planning it can be great fun. Plus, no taxi fare for you at the end of the night! That sangria certainly went down well! Salud!
Feeling inspired to host your own themed night or dinner party? Argos are currently running a fun competition to win some of their Heart of Home collection when you upload your dinner party pics to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ArgosDinnerParty! You can find some great tips and tricks for being the hostess with the mostest over on their blog too - as well as other dinner parties hosted by fellow food bloggers.
Post in association with Argos. View full terms and conditions of the competition here.