It was a Friday night and a group of girlfriends came for dinner. For me, organising everything is part of the enjoyment of hosting a soirée. Creating a menu that considers everyone’s food quirks from: the vegan, the person allergic to chicken, another with a shellfish allergy, to someone with a dislike of mushrooms or pumpkin should be seen as a challenge rather than an inconvenience.
Endless hours spent devouring cookbooks, magazines and browsing Eat Your Books to find that elusive recipe spotted months ago; ensuring every dish works as part of the meal, not just a collection of dishes. So even though the goal for this year (again) is to cook from every issue of every magazine subscribed to and to have people over for dinner at least every month I did something I don’t ordinarily do.
Friends were invited to a pot luck dinner of the old fashioned variety. No theme, no allocation of courses and no direction whatsoever. Given the invitation went out three weeks in advance, the odd message was anticipated but there was silence until the day before. Then one message saying, “I'm working until 7pm so start without me, I'm bringing cake”.
Interestingly enough not one meat dish but a smorgasbord of fragrant herbs and spices, and interesting flavours that somehow went together:
- Baked Sicilian Eggplant
- Spicy vegetable filo parcels
- Three Indian vegetable curries
- Herb and haloumi couscous salad
- And a decadent chocolate mousse and a pear and pistachio cake to finish.
It was a laid back affair with little time spent in the kitchen. Oddly there were many half-finished bottles of wine at the end of the night; two were running in a 10k off-road race on Motutapu Island the next day – in training for the Queenstown Marathon in November and coincidentally everyone had driven themselves to dinner that night.
Make your next gathering pot luck; it’s really just an excuse to get friends together.