On Wednesday, I collected enough old and new friends to fill (comfortably, and without squashing) the beautiful, enormous wooden table that comes with our apartment. It fits twelve, but ten is better.
Cooking for ten on a work night is a little ambitious, aided in this case by three critical factors:
1. Simple food I have cooked before;
2. Advance preparation, including thanks to my terrific boyfriend and a talented friend who brought nibbles; and
3. Inviting my boss to dinner who, as well as being a delightful dinner party guest, let me leave work early to get ready.
Cooking for large numbers makes me immensely happy. I love the cosiness of entertaining at home, as well as the scope to do it your way. For me, that means keeping the focus on what I care about: a table that looks beautiful in photographs, tasty and crowd-pleasing food (but minimally fussy), plenty of wine and good conversation, and the opportunity to bring new people together. When someone is new to Canberra, asking them to dinner at home is a whole lot lovelier than taking them out.
In celebration of the season, I kept the menu summery.
After beautiful nibbles courtesy of one Miss P, we ate chicken enchiladas (adapted for vegetarians) and the peaches from my post last week.
Enchiladas are fairly easy, and particularly recommend themselves because of their adaptability for vegetarians (so much nicer to have all your guests eating variations on the same meal – indeed, these could also be made gluten-free or lactose-free) and the convenience of simply putting them into the oven when most guests have arrived and then pulling them out when you’re ready to eat.
As for the peaches, not only did the sticky lines of peachy caramel create a few rare moments of happy silence, but they were quick to prepare and filled the living spaces of my place with the heady smell of burning sugar and ripe summer fruit.
Tomorrow, a recipe for enchiladas.