Friday, May 29, 2020 top four tips for faultless celebrations and entertaining...

I have a few go-tos when it comes to entertaining and celebrations.
Alas I am currently deprived of opportunities for pretty table settings, as home renovations continue here, but I do love the cooking.
When I was younger, I relished scouring my cookbooks to try something new.
These days, anything 'new' is usually out of my own imagination!
A case in point is this Prawn and Chorizo tray bake I came up with a while back during the early days of Covid-19 isolation.
How much easier can it get? Frozen prawns gently poached in salted water. Don't boil them. Just bring to a simmer in salted water, then switch off and put the lid on. Let them steam until pink and curled. Spread them on a tray with mouthwatering slivers of chorizo, and whatever veges you have on hand. Roast  in a moderate oven till it smells lush (the prawns are already cooked, remember). Serve with greens, or over pasta, or rice.
My favourite cake recipe is here. It's an absolute winner, and so versatile. You can omit the cocoa and add other flavours too. These are mini cupcakes with a secret filling of tinned caramel, dusted with icing sugar, and sprinkled with edible rose petals. Utterly delish, and presentation +++.

The simplest things can look fancy with a strawberry on top. This is a home made custard pot, upended into a ramekin, doused in maple syrup, and decorated prettily. House version of Crème Caramel anyone?
You can make custard with cornflour.
Here's the recipe in four sentences:
Whisk two heaped tablespoons of sugar into 1 litre (1 3/4 pints) of milk, and heat on the stove or in the microwave till steaming. Mix 4 tablespoons of cornflour to a paste with a little cold milk, and add to the hot milk, whisking to combine. Heat, stirring often, till thickened. Add vanilla extract and a little yellow food colouring.
You can vary the consistency by increasing or decreasing the amount of cornflour you use. After a few batches, you'll get to know what consistency you prefer. We like them firm like little puddings.
Fruit and/or Nut clusters....gotta be happy when melting some chocolate or chocolate buttons, mixing in some dried fruit and nuts (or M&Ms or chopped jelly beans or freeze dried berries), and dropping spoonsful onto a sheet of baking paper to set, results in oohs and aahs. Decorate with cake decorating pretties if desired. Perfect as a gift or treat with coffee. And they look so appealing!
If you've got vegetables, a saucepan, and a stick mixer, you've got soup. You don't need a recipe. This one was made from the odds and ends in the refrigerator and the tops of the celery stalks, leaves and all. Just simmer everything together with some stock cubes and onion. Remove some of the liquid before blitzing with the stick mixer. You can always add it back in, but the aim is to have a nice thick soup, not a watery one. Add seasoning to taste, and swirl a bit of cream through when you serve it. Can't go wrong.

Pies are always a hit of course. Pastry was my nemesis for a long, long time. Especially once we decided to be gluten-free in support of our daughter. Then I discovered Lard and a pastry blender.
Whilst Lard is not something we'd eat every day, it makes the lightest, crispest pastry EVER. And anyway, 120gms (4 ozs) of Lard spread over 6 pies, is no worse than some of the stuff people buy and eat every day....hello McDonalds?

And this thing....this Pastry Blender, is sort of used like a potato masher to mix the shortening with the flour. The bit where you have to rub it in with your fingertips always annoyed me. Not good with repetitive tasks here. I made pastry in literally 90 seconds with it yesterday!
Here's Nannas pastry recipe in four sentences...with or without Pastry Blender!
My top tips for successful entertaining or special occasion meals.
1. Stick with what you know, served beautifully.
2. You can't go wrong with:
* a soup
* a tray bake or pies served with fresh seasonal vegetables or salad
* a favourite cake or custard based dessert.
3. Chocolate is always a winner with coffee and tea after a good meal.
4. You don't need lots of fancy equipment to make sensational food.
What are your entertaining or celebration meal go-tos?


  1. Absolutely agree with your methods. Stick to what you know, can do well and make ahead. Spend time with your guests. I think serving small portions in a special cup or bowl makes everything look cute and special.

    1. Yep yep. Do ahead, do it well, stick with the plan. I totally agree that serving things prettily makes a huge difference. Mimi xxx

  2. Mimi thanks so much for a brilliant post. I love your cooking and baking, Your meals look delicious, simple everyday ingredients we all have on hand and no fuss with hours spent in the kitchen.
    I’m glad you posted links to the recipes for your pastry and chocolate cake, these look like winners.
    I’ve never used lard before in cooking and wondering do you need to soften it on the bench before use?
    The versatility of your cake recipe is terrific. I’m certainly making those caramel filled little cakes.
    Do you pour your custard into silicone moulds to set and would you say 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence? You can tell I’m not an instinctive cook, more like follow the recipe to a tee 😁
    Enjoy your weekend Mimi and thanks again for your abfab recipes. You are a darling. Xxx

    1. Thanks Lorraine. Lard is already pretty soft, so no softening necessary. I pour the custard into the little lunchbox containers that are meant for yoghurt and whatnot for kids. They work well. And about 2 teaspoons of vanilla to 500mls of custard is about right. Mimi xxx


I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx