By Bryden Arthur
Does entertaining a large group of friends seem like a daunting task? Not if you stick to a classic menu. A three-course meal can be made easy if you select dishes that can be prepared hours or even days in advance.
Classic dishes have earned their place in culinary history for good reason. They are simple, easy to serve and always delicious.
Here’s an idea of a menu for 15.
The mezze consists of a number of traditional Mediterranean dishes and dips. You make your own hummus, tzatziki, olive tapenade and serve them with slices of crusty bread and crudités. These can all be prepared a day or two in advance. You set them on the table just before the guests arrive. Guests help themselves. There’s no serving necessary and they make for interactive dining.
To follow through on the theme, buy a bottle of Ouzo (the famous Greek spirit) or Raki (the Turkish version) and serve it with a cube of ice that will turn the clear liquid cloudy. Salut!
Coq au Vin is a classic French dish. It has centuries of history behind it that can be traced back not simply to Napoleon but also Caesar. The flavour of the dish really improves if it is made a day in advance—that gives the meat time to marinate and the juices to mingle. All you need do is heat up the dish before serving. Coq au Vin is comfort food at its very best but still elegant enough to be appropriate for any dinner party.
Serve with brown rice and a Pinot Noir.
Panna Cotta is literally flavoured milk that has been set with gelatin; a little cream makes it slightly more decadent. It is so easy to prepare and, once again, can be made the day before. The best way to serve is still in the mould. Vanilla and raspberries add flavour.