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Dinner Party

An occasional dinner party with friends and family strengthens bonds and keeps connections open in human relationships. Dinner parties, however, can also be vehicles of creativity and fun! They are the adult equivalent of playtime when work has ended and socialization begins. Celebrate your dinner parties with murder mystery games and adult-oriented themes. Find articles about dinner party planning tips and ideas at DayCelebration!

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Easy Dinner Party Set-up

Easy dinner party ideas for a vegetarian feast
by Nadine Abensur

Relax. Here are some easy dinner party ideas for a foolproof meatless feast.

Vegetables are the new meat. At least, that’s if the 60 per cent of us who claim to have cut back on meat, or given it up altogether, are to be believed. So why, when faced with cooking a vegetarian meal for friends, or for a special occasion, do most of us go into a blind panic? Our worst fears always seem to be confirmed: vegetarian food is boring, too labour-intensive and too insubstantial.

The easy dinner party solution – to cook a vegetarian feast that really gets your taste buds going and leaves you satisfied – is not as difficult as you may think. An easy dinner party plan is to take a cue from the eastern Mediterranean, where the flavors are exotic and robust, the preparations simple and the overall effect generous and festive. Try the easy dinner party ideas below, and your vegetarian guests will be inviting themselves back to dinner.

Flame-smoked aubergines. They take 7 minutes each when held (with tongs) over a naked gas flame – you can smoke at least two at a time on most basic stoves. Wait until the flesh is completely soft and gives easily when poked with a fork. Then douse the blackened skins – slit at regular intervals – with extra virgin olive oil, crushed garlic, lemon juice and basil or coriander leaves. Serve with a little diced tomato, a few well-dressed chickpeas and some thin strips of golden, fried, salty Haloumi. Provide warm bread with Arabic flair by frying some flour tortillas on both sides in olive oil until round, black spots appear. Lightly oiled, grilled courgette strips, layered with thick garlicky, lemony Greek yoghurt. Organic carrots braised with gently fried cumin seeds, slowly cooked sliced garlic, a fearless helping of olive oil and a little water or saffron stock. Simmer the lot together for about 20 minutes in a lidded pot leaving the carrots whole with their leafy tops attached. Make up a mass of wilted spinach, sprinkle with olive oil, a grating of fresh nutmeg and a few fat flakes of salt.

Main course
Try this filling broad bean pilaf, splendid with raisins (plump, juicy Lexia or Muscat), toasted pine nuts (long thin Italian ones if you can find them) or toasted slivered almonds, crispy fried onion and fried cumin seeds.

Broad Bean Pilaf
Serves 6–8

500g basmati rice
100ml olive oil
1 large Spanish onion or 2 medium onions, finely sliced
4 tsp cumin seeds
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
350g frozen broad beans
2 tbsp Lexia or ordinary raisins
2 tbsp pine nuts or slivered almonds
Handful coriander leaves, picked off the stalks
Salt and pepper

Cook the basmati rice in lightly salted cold water, doubling the volume of water to rice. Bring to a boil and turn the heat down to a simmer. The rice is cooked when all the water is absorbed and the surface is marked with tiny craters.

Meanwhile, heat the oil and fry the onion until browned. Remove half of it and set aside, but continue to fry the rest until crisp. Then set this aside and return the first lot to the pan. Continue to fry for a couple of minutes with the cumin seeds, garlic and salt and pepper, taking care that the onion does not blacken – pick out any black bits you see.

Boil the broad beans for 8 minutes or a few minutes longer than it says on the back of the packet. Rinse them under cold water and add them to the cumin, fried onion and the raisins. Stir over a low heat for another minute or two and wait for the cooked rice to finish.

Toast the pine nuts or slivered almonds in a dry pan until tinged with gold. Then when the rice is ready, add it to the pan of fried onion. Stir it well so that it takes on the colours and flavours of all the other ingredients. To serve, top with the reserved crisp onion, the pine nuts or slivered almonds and the coriander leaves.

Serve a quality vanilla ice cream with rose water syrup. Combine 2 tbsp rose water, 110g caster sugar, 200ml water, a few cardamom pods and a squeeze of lemon juice. Boil, then simmer to spoon-coating stickiness. Top with a few broken, oven-fresh pistachios or a sesame snap.

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