Tuesday, 25 November 2014

How to be a good host

Celebrity chef John Torode knows a thing or two about entertaining. Here he shares his top tips for showing your guests a good time

Save time in the kitchen If you’re going to get in the kitchen and make something, double your portion to make twice as much and freeze half. This makes life much easier because you can bring out a delicious home-made meal to use whenever.

Stick to cooking simple food I’m quite lucky in the sense that I can knock up a meal out of just about anything. I will have a quick look through the cupboard and am able to make something edible. My advice to people who don’t really know what they’re doing in the kitchen is stick to risottos, and use things such as lentils. I think the simplest thing for anybody to do is to put a chicken in a big pot with a little bit of oil, season with salt and pepper, put it in the oven for an hour or so and there you go – you’ve got a roast chicken and whatever else you want to go with it.

It's the season to season Make sure that everything is seasoned really well. Don’t be frightened of salt, pepper or sugar. When creating a delicious dessert, use spices with sugar to season, and for savoury food, use spices with salt and pepper.

My go-to food when hosting friends is anything in pastry It is easy and always satisfies everyone. Little pies, tarts, puffs or sausage rolls always work because both adults and kids alike always love them.

Don't be afraid to cheat and lie! The world is full of high quality pre-made food, and there’s no reason why you can’t use some of it to create your own meals. I’m not saying buy a ready meal, but use precooked lentils and mix them with a tin of really good quality soup and suddenly you’ve got something amazing.  To be a good cook you have to be really generous and you’ve got to feed people, not yourself. It’s not about trying to impress people, it’s about feeding them.

Ensure you have the right drinks to compliment your food It's good for your guests to have a choice. I always make sure I have a range of hot drinks available. For example, there’s nothing better than a cup of English breakfast tea with a warm and flaky sausage roll, whilst a hot chocolate will go down a treat with my chocolate brownie cake recipe.

Stay prepared for impromptu visits As a chef I am always cooking, so there is never a lack of food in the fridge, freezer or cupboard. There is usually something on the go in my house, meaning I’m normally well prepared for impromptu visits.  Three kitchen ingredients that are a must have to stay prepared for unexpected guests are a roll of puff pastry, a block of cheese and a loaf of bread. An egg is useful too so that you can make things like bread and butter pudding, quiches, tarts, and scrambled eggs in tart cases – a delicious and easy to make treat!

Make Christmas effortless If I’m having Christmas in Australia, it’s a barbeque on the beach. If I’m having Christmas this side of the world, I usually cook duck or goose, traditionally with lots of stuffing. My advice for using up Christmas leftovers is Bubble and Squeak. I also think that people underestimate a good sandwich. A cold roast meat and stuffing sandwich is a lovely thing. Warm up the stuffing to make sure it’s hot, but don’t reheat the meat, lashings of butter on thick white bread with mustard and horseradish.

John has teamed up with hot drinks machine brand Tassimo to teach the nation how to be the Perfect Host this party season


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