Big Dinners 3: The vegan edition

This is way, way, way late but as the saying goes: better late than not having kept the New Year’s Resolution. But, we have! And next week we’ll host big dinner number six.

If you’re new to this game, my boyfriend and I made a joint New Year’s Resolution to have a dinner party at our place one month. And one a month we put our heads together to devise a menu, send out the invites, clean the flat from top to bottom and root around in the back of the cupboards for the big serving dishes I bought ages ago and promised we’d use one day. We pay too much money for our tiny flat, so we wanted to actually use it to house laughs and people we love and wine and chatter and big batches of black bean stew. We’ve really enjoyed it so far, and I’ve written up what happened at the Jan and Feb editions if you fancy catching up.

So here’s what happened at Big Dinner no. 3.

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Don’t ask me why (because I don’t remember), but March was busy. Busy busy busy. We couldn’t find a free Saturday so, in order to keep the resolution, we had to host on a Friday night. And I’ll be damned if I’m cooking a three course meal for eight after the nine to five. So I took the day off. I had the leave to take and luckily, so did my best friend. We both had leisurely mornings and met in the early afternoon. Shopping, chopping, cooking and cleaning and chatting quickly brought 7pm around and we were both still underdressed and over-stressed. Needless to say that our pals started arriving at half seven and were met with the two of us panickedly smearing on some lipstick whilst trying to safely operate a hand blender. In my book, nothing makes a guest feel more welcome than being greeted with ‘HIHOWAREYOU. OH US? WE’RE VERY STRESSED' delivered at 90 decibels through an almost maniacal smile. But hey, that’s just my style of hosting.

For the menu this month, I wanted to go all vegan. I’d been trying to do a vegan month myself in March, and so wanted to see how easily it would extend to entertaining. I knew I wanted to try to emulate this recipe that I’d tasted in New York last year and then scoured the internet for dishes that could be prepped in advance and allow us ample time at the table.

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So the long and short of it was:

8 of us: me, him, three friends from home, one friend from Madrid and two fiancé(e)s.

We ate: We started with drinks and three dips: sweet potato, chickpea and lime, caramelised onion hummus and baked spinach and artichoke dip (this really was the stand out, if I do say so myself) with pitta chips and crudités. For main we had what was effectively quite a tasty roast dinner, but who’s ever turned their nose up at that? We ate (a little bit burnt on the bottom) squash and kale wellingtons, with roasted new potatoes, carrots, peas and (obviously) gravy. To end we served what has since come a solid part of my (limited) culinary repertoire: a poached pear sticky toffee pudding with custard. It was rich, dense, sweet and spiced and you’d never be able to tell that we didn’t use any eggs or dairy.

We drank: Prosecco (need you have asked?), beers and red wine.

And then: We raised our glasses to three new jobs, a birthday and an engagement. Made everyone play telegrams (again). Didn’t make everyone play Obama on a Llama and did a little quiz instead. Everyone was knackered but (I think) a good time was had by all.