I went to a party recently and wanted to take something tasty to eat with me. As I considered my options I was reminded of the various dietary concerns of certain guests, not nuts, no, dairy, no fish, no eggs…
I settled on a cake but even so that was no mean feat. In the end banana and chocolate cake won the day with a non-dairy chocolate icing. The cake was a hit but through the elimination process I realised why some may be put off hosting a dinner party at home. So, if that is you, here are my top work arounds when cooking for your friends, and their tricky eating habits.
Lots of people are intolerant to dairy, in this situation stick with tomato based sauces, skip the cheese course and don’t serve cream or ice-cream with dessert (unless it is soya based). Watch out for anyone coming that can’t have dairy even if it is cooked into cakes or pastries. For these diners there are lots of dairy substitutes, from soya, rice, oat and even almond milk (although watch out for nut allergies!). Most come in a cream form and can be treated to mimic their dairy counterparts. We find guests don’t even notice a difference in taste once it is cooked. We recently did a no dairy Rhubarb pannacotta using oat milk instead of cream and that went down very well with all of the guests. of course you could always also choose a naturally dairy free alternative here too.
Gluten free or coeliac
This can be daunting at first but the key is to know what has gluten in it. Basically fresh fruit and vegetables are fine, as are meat, fish and dairy. Breads, pastas and any pre-packaged items need to be checked as they can often come in gluten-free form but it isn’t a given. If you have enough time (or a bread maker) you can get gluten-free recipes and make your own bread – which may add a nice personal touch. Make it easy for yourself and give everyone a taste of gluten free for your party – that way no-one feels awkward about needing a special meal. This list may help you to work out what you can and can’t serve too.
Our favourite is Fillet of Halibut with a panache of greens (pictured) delicious, beautiful and completely gluten free.
The nut allergy sufferer.
Nut allergies are a big issue for a lot of people, some people can’t even be in the same room as peanuts, for example, without facing a reaction of some sort. With this one, I would keep it simple and keep it nut free. Definitely remember to check the label on any processed or shop bought items you are using to help you along – unless you want a crash course in administering that epi-pen. If you’re planning something on your menu that could be problematic for a nut allergy sufferer remember to check none of your party will be affected in advance.
The no fish veggie
These diners were once the nemesis of chefs, but we’ve come a long way since then. If you want to keep it simple at your dinner party you may be able to make at least one course vegetarian for everyone – which will ultimately be less time in the kitchen and more time to relax with your guests for you. How about trying this spinach, ricotta and broccoli tartlet – it’s proven popular with both vegetarians and carnivores alike at our events (pine nuts are optional).
Happy dining folks!
Still not sure you want to tackle this alone? call in the professionals to develop and deliver the perfect menu for your guests.