Dining: When doing my Cookery Schools in Country Houses I have always advised that doing a Dinner Party must be something you do for yourself so that you enjoy it. If however you are forced to entertain then one can always plan a complex menu requiring long periods in the kitchen and have your own party there! Delivering each course to the Dining Room as completed. Perhaps encourage one guest to assist for company. Sounds naughty but it can work.

On a more enjoyable note menu planning is essential so that you may enjoy your guests company and they yours.

Foods that need to be finished off at the last minute or cooked what we call ‘to order’ should be avoided. Vegetable choices should be blanched in advance and reheated just before being served. Many over the years have adopted their own method and way of coping. Hostess trolleys were all the rage at one time.

For starters – cold ones are good like Terrines – Pate’s – Combination Salads. Soups and other hot items should be able to be kept warm without spoiling.

(Perhaps I should remind here that Guests are obliged out of courtesy to arrive on time so that foods are not kept waiting and can be consumed at their best quality of cooking)

Main Courses should be chosen because they do not spoil with being kept and are easily served. So cooking Steaks or last minute cooking is not advised and necessitates attendance in the kitchen too much. Vegetables may be blanched in advance and reheated at the last moments in the microwave – oven (wrapped tightly in foil) or steamed. Preparing in advance allows a nice colorful choice. Alternately choose a collation of Vegetables to Roast and have a ‘one pot’ medley.

Puddings: Unless you have a qualification in Pastry Cooking or for some reason get some sort of ‘fix’ out of doing a dessert cart of choices then one nice elegant pudding with a fresh fruit and cheese platter is more than adequate. This will also be kind to your waistline and prevent huge leftovers for you to consume over the following days.

Planning and Preparation is essential a two hour concentrated and structured application should sort it all out bar the cooking times of certain dishes.

With everything prepared you will have time for a nice bath and relax before your guests arrive.

Oh Yes I hear you cry and I say it can be done!

Turkey Fricassee with a Crispy Filo Topping

At this point I will write this with basics and options as the Fricassee could be served with Rice or Mashed Potato or added to Cooked Pasta so it can be very versatile. (Chicken can also be used)

1 Large Leek – Chopped

2 ozs Butter

2 ozs Flour

1 lb Cooked Turkey (Chicken) – cubed

Chicken Stock (about half a pint – make with Stock Cube if necessary)

Seasoning

Double Cream or Cream Cheese

Adding options (all cooked) – Mushrooms – Sweetcorn – Broccoli Florets – Carrots – Peas – Bacon – Ham Cubes

  1. Melt the Butter and sweat the Leeks in same (I like to do this in the microwave) add the flour and then slowly make a sauce by adding the Chicken stock stirring all the time to prevent lumping. Do not make it too watery.
  2. Now add the Cream or Cream Cheese to enrich the Sauce (I have used Mayonnaise on the odd occasion).
  3. Add the other ingredients – Cooked Meat and any other Vegetables or Ingredients you have chosen.
  4. Check consistency and seasoning. Place in a oven proof pie dish and cool.

1 Pack of Filo Pastry – Melted Butter.

 Open Filo and spread out flat have a damp cloth to cover to avoid it drying out.

  1. Brush melted Butter over first layer.
  2. Carefully scrunch up like a piece of paper you are scrunching for the bin.
  3. Place the loose scrunched ball onto the mixture.
  4. Repeat process until several of the scrunchies have completely covered the filling.
  5. Dribble lightly with melted Butter.
  6. Place in a preheated oven at about 180 – 200 degrees C or equivalent and cook until Golden.
  7. Then Serve with New Boiled Potatoes, Crispy Salad or something of your choice.