health

Dinner for 8 people in under one hour? Yes, it's possible.

Cooking for eight people can be a nightmare – these recipes make it so much easier.

By ELLY JEAN-LOUIS

I love entertaining but I rarely cook for more than 6 people (unless it’s Christmas).

If by chance I do cook for a large group, it’s usually in summer and I keep it simple. I’ll create a few hearty salads and cook marinated meat or seafood on the BBQ.

However, when Mamamia challenged me to cook a three-course meal for eight, I thought I should test my dinner party skills.

I’ve come up with a hearty meal that takes just under an hour to cook, so you can enjoy the night as much as your guests.

The best part is, leftovers taste even better the next day.

Entrée

STUFFED FIGS WITH PROSCIUTTO

I really wanted to cook stuffed zucchini flowers this week; they’re always a hit! Unfortunately, the Zucchini Gods weren’t on my side and I couldn’t find them anywhere… Nonetheless, these figs went down a treat!

What you need:

Fresh figs – choose the quantity depending on your budget (I like to provide 2 per guest). Figs can be expensive so if they’re too costly try buying 4 large figs and cut them in half

½ tsp of blue cheese or goats cheese per fig

1 finely sliced piece of prosciutto per fig

Honey.

Let’s cook:

1. Wash the figs, then slice an x-cut at the top of each fig, only cutting ¾ of the way down. Then slightly pull the x apart to reveal the cavity for stuffing.

2. Add 1 tsp of cheese to the middle of each fig and wrap it with prosciutto. Place snuggly in an ovenproof tray, drizzle with honey and bake in a 200° oven for 5 minutes or until warmed through.

Main

ORANGE BARLEY CHICKEN WITH CHAT POTATOES AND HONEY CARROTS

This dish received a 10/10 rating. It’s the perfect winter warmer.

What you need:

2 butterflied 1.5kg chickens

4 garlic cloves, crushed

¼ cup olive oil

1 spanish onion, diced

½ cup Cointreau

Juice from 2 large oranges

700g mixed mushrooms, sliced (I used button, swiss brown and oyster)

50g butter

ADVERTISEMENT

2 cups pearl barley

3.5 cups chicken or vegetable stock

½ cup white wine

Salt and pepper

2 oven proof dishes (one per chicken)

Let’s cook:

1. Preheat oven to 210°C

2. Rub garlic cloves into chicken with Cointreau, orange juice and olive oil. Allow them to marinate for 5 minutes.

3. In a large ovenproof pot, add butter and brown the chickens on each side for 2 minutes, season and then remove. To the same pan, add onion and mushrooms, cook for 3 minutes until they start to reduce, then add the remaining marinating liquid and cook for a further minute. Stir in barley, seasoning, stock and white wine and cook for 1-2 minutes.

4. Distribute barley mix evenly amongst two ovenproof dishes then place chickens on top. Cover in foil and bake for 40 minutes.

5. Remove foil and cook for an additional 5 minutes, check to see that the chickens have cooked through and serve with mushrooms, barley, chat potatoes and honey carrots

HONEY GLAZED CARROTS

What you need:

2 bunches of baby carrots, trimmed and washed

2 tbsp. of butter

2 tbsp. of honey

Salt and pepper

Mint, to serve

Let’s cook:

1. Bring a small pan filled with salted water to the boil. Add carrots and cook for 5 minutes until tender. Remove carrots and add to a non-stick frying pan with butter and honey.

2. Cook for a further three minutes until a glaze forms. Season and top with mint.

ROSEMARY CHATS

Crispy yet deliciously fluffy inside

What you need:

1kg baby chat potatoes

4 sprigs of rosemary

3 tbsp. butter

Salt and pepper

Let’s cook:

1. Pre-heat oven to 210°C (same as the chicken)

2. Bring a small pan filled with salted water to the boil. Add potatoes and cook for 10 minutes until tender. Remove potatoes and add to an ovenproof dish with butter, salt and rosemary.

ADVERTISEMENT

3. Cook in the oven for 35 minutes or until crisp. While cooking you may need to turn them once so they brown all over.

SHAVED FENNEL SALAD

The palette cleanser

What you need:

2 fennel bulbs, washed

juice of one orange

3 tbsp. olive oil

mint

salt and pepper

Let’s cook:

1. Using a mandolin or sharp knife. Thinly slice the fennel. Add it to a salad bowl with orange juice, olive oil, mint and salt and pepper.

Dessert

ETON MESS

A seriously guilty pleasure…not one spoon was left unlicked!

(You can choose to serve this in individual dishes or as one big centrepiece)

What you need:

2 punnets strawberries, quartered

400ml of thickened cream, whisked

1/3 cup sugar

200g crème fraîche

1 tbsp. icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

pomegranate seeds

1 packet of store bought meringues, crushed

Let’s mess:

1. Whip cream and sugar till soft peaks form (this usually takes about 2 minutes). Fold in in crème fraîche, vanilla and icing sugar.

2. Now it’s time to assemble! Start by adding a layer of strawberries then cream mix, followed by crushed meringue and pomegranate. Repeat until all of the mixed has been used.

3. Enjoy, you deserve it

And there you have it, my delicious dinner party menu! It may seem like a lot… but once the once the chickens are in the oven, the rest is a breeze. I suggest a nice glass of wine to accompany you along the way.

I’d love to hear your favourite dinner party menus.

What’s your go-to dinner party menu for a big group?

00:00 / ???