Yesterday was Alex's 24th birthday and on Saturday night I threw him a surprise party to celebrate. Not only have I never pulled off a surprise in my life, I'm also not famed for my cooking (I once had a house full of people over for supper and didn't realise until 10pm, after the sound of stomachs rumbling could be heard four streets down, that I had forgotten to turn the stove on...).
So having 10 people over for dinner on Saturday, as a surprise in my own house no less, was no easy feat. But damn. I somehow pulled this one out my arse and was so proud of myself that I had to share my recipes with the world in a desperate bid to help anyone as hopeless as me make a culinary masterpiece.
Not wanting to have to make everything whilst I had a house full, I needed to take the opportunity of Alex being at work on Friday to pre-prepare as much as I possibly could (and then borrow the fridge space of all of my local friends and ban Alex from visiting their houses...). This wouldn't have worked with a roast chicken (my normal party go-to) and I was loathed to do spag bol again (I do it all the time), so with my best friend Omey's help, we got to work on a collection of salads. (More interesting than they sound, I PROMISE you) catering for the 6 normal eaters, 3 veggies and of course me with my no gluten and no dairy requirements.
Trust me, I know that thousands and thousands of vegetables thrown to gather in a plate don't look particularly exciting and they don't exactly scream Pretty Normal Me (Omey and I literally couldn't believe that these were the kind of people that we had grown up to be) BUT I promise you, this shit actually tastes good AND makes you look more impressive than you can imagine to a house full of people with complicated dietary requirements.
So for anyone who a) wants to get way better at making healthy/summery food b) has a million people coming over for dinner and wants to show off c) doesn't really like salad but feels like they ought to, I got your back.
So here's what I made and how I made it!
THIS. THIS. This is my pride and joy. Literally, the most impressive thing I have ever done, up to and including the book that is being published next week. It's heaven in a bowl. I originally made this after a friend made it for me, she had found the ingredients on the Daylesford website but made a couple of amendments. I don't love red onions or red peppers so I decided against those and I forgot the coriander but it was heavenly. The recipe is HERE and I really recommend it.
So I don't love peppers but I made these for my guests but they went down a treat and were super duper easy to make. We boiled some wild rice and mixed it in with a jar of pesto sauce and some chopped cherry tomatoes. We prepped those the day before and then popped them in the oven for about 20 minutes before the party and drizzled them with balsamic vinegar.
Pesto Wild Rice
To be frank, we made too much rice for the peppers so this is just the leftovers. Wild rice and pesto combined. Yum. yum. yum.
Easy breezy. Got myself some lamb mince which I mixed in a big bowl with an egg, some flour, some mint leaves, salt and pepper. I prepared these on the Friday and fried them on the Saturday night, they don't take long at all the dip is literally just mayonnaise mixed in with some more mint leaves (which considering it was easy, went down SO well.)
Summer Green Salad (with bavette steak as an added option for the meat-eaters!)
This was actually made by a veggie friend about an hour before the party. A friend of mine always makes a bavette steak salad which is heavenly and I wanted to copy her. This salad is literally just made up of leaves, (spinach, rocket etc etc) which some green beans and asparagus dressed in oil and lemon. The steaks were just fried on the night and were an additional option for people who weren't vegetarian.
Sweet Potato Fries
Forgot to take a photo of these as they were the last thing out of the oven but they were super easy. I chopped them the day before and then just shoved them in the oven after covering them in oil and salt.
Vegan Chocolate Mousse
Not my recipe but golly I wish it was, I got this from the Hemsley and Hemsley recipe and I love love it. SO healthy and you genuinely wouldn't know that it was made with avocado and banana rather than sugar, cream and chocolate! Try the recipe HERE.
Lemon Drizzle Cake
OK. I confess, I didn't make this. I roped in my baking wizard mate for a bit of help because we slightly bit off a bit more than we could chew with getting everything done during Alex's office hours! But it was delicious and pretty easy (at least Evie made it look that way...). We made it with dairy free butter and gluten free flour but otherwise the recipe was totally normal.
250g butter, 250g flour, 250g caster sugar, 4 eggs and the juice of 1 lemons. (This was a double tiered cake so we doubled up and made two mixtures). The icing was made with icing sugar lemon juice and a splash of water. Mix the butter and sugar in a bowl and add the eggs, sieve in the flour and then mix in the lemons. Bake at 180 degrees until you can stick a fork in and pull it out without any goo on it. Leave to cool for a couple of hours and, like the title suggests, drizzle the icing on top and add the decorations.
So there you have it! My first foodie article because, well, it was pretty much my first triumph with food! I hope you have taken some inspiration from it and will soon be wowing your pals left right and centre. Good luck! xxxx