HOSPITALITY 101: Catering for your Dinner Party

I love a good dinner party! The noisy chitter-chatter of guests, the soft music in the background and the aromas of a scrumptious dinner in the making wafting through the house is warming. My daughter recently had a birthday and I offered to cook for her dinner party. Her love language is ‘someone spoiling her’! I don’t know if that is a legitimate love language but it does speak volumes to her. She is one who loves to be around people, laughing and sharing stories and making a real connection with them. So what else could a mama do but offer to ‘spoil’ her?

I am used to catering for large crowds, I think it comes with being Greek. There are always lots of people around, food made in large round baking dishes and lots of it. But when she said she was just going to invite a small handful, I was secretly pleased as we just had a series of visitors and big celebrations.

So we had 12 guests arriving at 6pm and everything was going smoothly – until one by one people started to call in either sick or something else had come up. I am sure some of those calls were quite legitimate but wow what a way to make someone feel unimportant? Not to mention I had been preparing half the day for 12 guests! Oh well, the good news was that there would be leftovers and we would be able to partake of this goodness the following day!

Anyway, the show still went on and as it turned out, the guests that did arrive, were fabulous and made my daughter’s night a very happy one!

These recipes were chosen by my daughter and I am happy to say, they were a hit! Chicken & Chorizo Paella, Baked Lamb Patties on a bed of potatoes, washed down with a Greek salad. Oh my goodness I am reliving that goodness right now!! Our desserts were Tiramisu in a glass cup and Orange and Almond Cake which was gluten and dairy free to meet the dietary needs of a couple of our guests.

Inspired by the Tiramisu recipe, I created a Tiramisu with a layer of Italian custard. If you’ve ever tasted Tiramisu you know it’s amazing, and if you have ever tasted Italian custard you know it’s equally amazing – so I combined the two and by the ooing and ahhing of guests, I knew I had hit the jackpot! So I am going to share this recipe with you and hope you will be equally satisfied.

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Tiramisu & Italian Custard Cups

Serves 12
Ingredients
Custard
1 tbs cornflour
½ cup custard powder
¼ cup sugar
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
300ml thickened cream
1 egg yolk, beaten
3 tbs brandy
Marscapone
2 eggs, separated
¼ cup caster sugar
500g marscapone
300ml thickened cream, whipped
 Biscuits
12 savoyardi biscuits
1 cup of made up strong black coffee
3 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons grated dark chocolate
Method
Custard
Place cornflour, custard powder and sugar into pan, stirring until well combined. Gradually add milk, mix until free of lumps.
Add vanilla and cream, mixing well. Continue to stir over low heat until custard boils and thickens. Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add beaten egg yolk. Add brandy and mix through well. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
Marscapone
Using electric mix, beat egg whites in a small bowl until soft peaks form. In a separate bowl, add egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale. Add marscapone and whipped cream with a metal spoon. Fold in egg whites gently.
Place coffee and brandy in a bowl. Dip biscuits in coffee mixture, drain excess liquid and placing on a cutting board, cut biscuits into small 1cm slices. Place on the bottom of cup. Repeat until all cups filled.
Spoon custard in each cup, add a spoonful of marscapone and then repeat with biscuits, custard and marscapone. Sprinkle with grated chocolate and place on a tray in fridge for 3 – 4 hours or overnight.