Help!! Unexpected guests for dinner!

So some friends have popped over, the wine is flowing, you’re having a good time, you’re relaxed…then those words that should never be uttered….”I’m hungry”….GASP! What do you do now? Don’t they know that the days of a fridge full of leftovers are over, that we have enough trauma scraping together a meal on an ordinary day, that catering for others is a scary proposition – that’s the reason we go out to eat rather than host dinner parties!

You could reach for the takeaway menu (OK that’s so old school, I meant you could reach for your phone to order a takeaway). OR you could rustle up a meal to be proud of in just a few minutes. Yes, REALLY! Here are a few tips:

Don’t expect too much of yourself

These are unexpected guests and you are doing them a favour by feeding them. It should taste good and fill them up. I suppose ice-cream might fall into that category. So it also has to be relatively healthy i.e. savoury.

You do need to have some food in the house

OK. so this post has not promised miracles. You do need food in the house in order to make a meal. You’ll need store cupboard essentials and a freezer full of meat, fish and veg will be a godsend – this is great for everyday cooking too.

Storecupboard essentials:

  • tins of pulses e.g. chick peas, cannellini beans
  • tin tomatoes
  • tinned fish in brine or tomato sauce
  • dried herbs
  • seasonings
  • recipe blends e.g, Virtuelicious Curry Kit
  • oils
  •  frozen veg
  • frozen meat
  • frozen fish
  • easy carbs – cous cous, flatbreads, tacos

Make it quick

Whatever you make has to be made in minutes – you’re in the middle of having fun after all!

Make it up

This is your time to be creative. There is no real recipe to follow because you are throwing together whatever you have.

Stick to these basic components:

Here’s a guide to making up a satisfying meal:

  1. Rummage around to see what you have. Take each item out and lay in on your counter so that you don’t forget and to save time putting it away and taking it ourt again.
  2. Take an overall view of what you have and decide on an overall flavour e.g. spicy, lemon and herb, creamy, tomato based herby.
  3. Make a dip: you can whizz up a dip in no time. Start with your base ingredient – this should be something gloopy in texture. Think yogurt, mashed pulses, masked butternut squash or aubergine. You might want to loosen the base ingredient with yogurt or oil. If you don’t have anything suitable as a base you can make a salsa by finely chopping salad vegetables and a bit of fruit. Then add flavour, choose some or all of the following: salt, pepper, chillies, garlic, ginger, herbs, lemon juice.
  4. You want something to serve with the dip: bread, crisps, tacos, tortilla chips, crudités, crisp breads.
  5. Now for the main meal. Main meal option 1: make up parcels to bake in the oven. Lay out foil. Place a fillet of fish or some meat e.g. a chicken breast. Add chopped veg – chop to a size so that it will cook in time for the meat or fish.  Add herbs, lemon and seasoning. You add some cream or cream cheese if you feel like it – just a small dollop. Fold up the parcel and bung in the oven until cooked (follow the instructions for the meat or fish).
  6. Main meal option 2: a one pot dish that can simmer away. Fry some onions, garlic and ginger in a saucepan.Once softened add your main ingredient – meat, fish or veg. Add some flavour (curry powder, peri peri seasoning, tagine mix, anything you have to hand really) then liquidised tin tomatoes and let simmer until cooked. You may want to add some water too. If you have chillies, coriander and fish lemon add a bit – this is your dish so taste and adjust as you see fit. If you use our curry kit you can skip the bit where you fry the onions, garlic and ginger as our kits include everything.
  7. Add some carbs. You don’t want to be cooking for ages so cous cous is always  a good option as you just add boiling water and leave covered for five minutes. Obvs you can add flavour to it if you have the time or inclination e.g. lemon, zest, herbs, seasoning. Tacos are great with option 2, as are flatbreads. Boiled potatoes are excellent and easy with option 1.
  8. If you have salad in the fridge it will add a fishing touch – if you don’t then it’s absolutely fine.
  9. Dessert: Take it easy for dessert by serving up something very simple. Ice-cream, fruit, a ready made cake you were saving for later will all do just fine.
  10. Enjoy!