Why go through such trouble?
I agree, it involves a lot of planning, brainstorming and preparation. But I love every moment of it: I get to challenge myself and try out new recipes; I get to make food that will wow people; and I absolutely love it when people like the food I made. (:
The key to successful entertaining is definitely be prepared. Knowing the rough number of people who are coming over and how many dishes you are planning to serve will help you plan how much food you'll need to cook. And this will help you in gauging how much time you'll require in preparing the dishes.
A habit that I've developed is that I'll draft out a time-line to plan when I need to get the ingredients (you wouldn't want to realize on that day itself that you don't have an essential ingredient!), and a more detailed time-line for the actual day itself (I always plan this while on my way home... time past faster that way!)
To be on a safe route, I try to incorporate several tried-before dishes in the menu and only one or two new recipes. It's really hard to cope with so many new recipes! In addition, I always choose recipes that can be made ahead of time and recipes that require baking (so that all I need to do is to just dump them in the oven, instead of having to stand in front of the fire hob all the time). Many desserts are very forgiving - they can be at least a day ahead, with probably the exception of molten chocolate lava cake, scones and other hot desserts. I love to use the oven to bake the main / side dishes - baked chicken, baked potatoes, shepherd's pie etc.
Once prepared, the actual day will probably flow past like a breeze. But the most important thing is to have faith and enjoy yourself while doing all these. With passion, enthusiasm and love, nothing is impossible! (:
Wow... I guess I got carried away while talking about all these... haha. Hope the above information is useful for those who are planning a party! (:
For desserts, I chose to try this Vegan Oatmeal Raisins recipe. One thing that I love about oatmeal cookies is that they are so chewy and soft.
I got this recipe from Serendipity of Life. I was promised the most delicious oatmeal cookies ever... and boy it was really delicious!
These cookies do not require an electric mixer (hooray!), no butter (replaced with a healthier alternative - light olive oil), a two-bowl, one whisk, one sieve and one spatula recipe and no eggs are used! The preparation of this dough can be done in less than 30 minutes - it's that easy!
I've always loved adding raisins into oatmeal cookies. Somehow oatmeal + raisins just go well with each other - I wonder why? On a healthier side (is it really healthier without alcohol?), I did not soak the raisins in rum this time (unlike my previous oatmeal cookies recipe), but soaked them in hot water to allow them to soak up some water and be soft, juicy and puffy.
Some photos of the baking process and recipe below! (:
adapted from The Serendipity of Life Oatmeal Cookies
50 grams raisins
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
50 grams brown sugar
60 grams instant oatmeal
90 grams maple syrup
65 grams light olive oil / sunflower oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place the raisins in a heatproof bowl. Pour enough hot, boiling water to cover the raisins. Leave the bowl aside and let it cool to room temperature. The raisins will soak up the hot water and become puffy and juicy.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a huge bowl. Add in the brown sugar and instant oatmeal. Whisk the dry ingredients together.
In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk the maple syrup, oil and vanilla extract together.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Add in the wet ingredients and whisk gently until both the dry and wet ingredients have been fully incorporated.
Drain the raisins and add it into the cookie batter. Mix the raisins into the cookie batter gently using a rubber spatula. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap / cling-film and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Line baking sheets with baking paper.
Scoop the cookie batter by tablespoonfuls and drop them onto the baking sheets, leaving a spacing of 2 inches (5 centimetre) between each cookie. The cookies will expand considerably during baking.
Bake the cookies for 10 minutes until golden brown in colour. Place the baking sheets on a wire rack and let the cookies cool completely to room temperature.
Store the baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.