How to prepare a dinner party in one afternoon - hassle free recipes.

I do love cooking, but I do not love standing over a hot stove for hours and being stressed when my guests arrive. Firstly, I am a very busy person and just do not have the time to be doing this and secondly, who does?!

So, yesterday I popped out on my lunch break to buy all the ingredients I needed to cook a 3 course meal for some friends coming over that evening. I started cooking at 3pm and by 6.30pm I had a beautifully laid table and everything ready to go for the oncoming arrival of guests at 7pm (and I had not been in the kitchen non-stop!)

Find my quick recipes and tips below...and good luck!

Slow cooked shoulder of Lamb with a sugar, rosemary and garlic glaze - serves 4 or 5 with left overs


  • 1  x 2kg shoulder of lamb
  • 3 x cloves of garlic - crushed and finely chopped
  • 2 x sprigs of rosemary - finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 x tbsp of dark brown soft sugar
  • 200ml water
  • Extra rosemary and garlic
  • Salt and Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.

Place the lamb into a deep baking dish 

Mix the garlic, rosemary, oil and sugar together in a small dish and mix

Spread over the lamb evenly

Scatter some spare rosemary sprigs and whole cloves of garlic around the bottom of the dish then fill the dish with the water

Cover the dish in foil and put into the oven

After about 30 mins, baste the lamb (use a large spoon and collect the juices to pour over the lamb to keep it moist)

Keep basting every 30 minutes

After 2 hours, remove the foil and sprinkle some salt over the top of the lamb, put back in the oven and keep basting every 30 minutes.

After another 2 hours your lamb should be done. So it will have been in the oven for a total of 4 hours. The lamb can be taken out and left in a warm oven at 100 degrees Celsius covered in foil until you are ready to serve.

Use a fork and sharp knife to flake off your soft should look something like this and taste delicious! Serve with some redcurrant jelly and use the juices from the bottom of the pan as a gravy.

For the vegetable accompaniements I roasted a few baby carrots and parsnips very simply, then when they were done I put into an oven proof dish ready to heat through later. I then steamed some french beans whilst we ate the starter and seasoned them with a little salt and blob of butter. I roasted some skin on new potatoes with olive oil, rosemary and garlic, which again were very easy to re-heat later.

Cooked lamb.JPG

Lemon Posset with a macademia brittle - makes 6 ramekins


  • 600ml double cream
  • Grated zest of 3 lemons
  • 100ml lemon juice
  • 200g caster sugar
  • Seeds from 1 x pomegranate (optional) - could use raspberries, blueberries or nothing!

Place the cream in a saucepan with the sugar over a medium to high heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Once the sugar has dissolved, put the heat up and leave to come to a steady simmer - do not take your eyes off it or it will over boil!

When bubbling, remove from the heat and add in the lemon zest and lemon juice

Pour the mixture into a jug and then pour the contents of the jug into 6 ramekins or the dishes of your choice. Add in the fruit at this stage, if using. Put into the fridge to chill then remove when it comes to pudding time and serve!

Macademia Brittle


  • 200g sugar
  • 100g macademia nuts, roughly chopped

Grease a non stick baking dish lightly with some butter. Put the sugar into a heavy based non stick saucepan. Melt over a medium heat....once dissolved it will go through some stages. Just keep watching it until it turns a caramel brown. Don't be scared, just be watching it and ready to remove it from the heat once it turns a deep brown caramel colour. Add the nuts, then carefully pour onto your baking dish. Set aside to cool and then later on break up into shards to serve with your beautiful lemon posset!

Artichoke Fondue


  • For presentation: 2 x hollowed out wholemeal unsliced loaf, with lid
  •  Large Jar of Mayonnaise, approx. 600g
  • 2-3 heaped TBSP Crème Fraiche
  • 2 x tins of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 x jar of sun blushed tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped (optional)
  • 500g cheddar, grated
  • 250g grated parmesan
  • 2 x crushed garlic cloves

 Combine the artichoke and tomatoes (if using) with the mayonnaise, crème fraiche, garlic and cheese in a large bowl. You should have a consistency that if you put a dollop on a large wooden spoon it falls off the spoon in about 30 seconds (should not be too runny or stiff).

Fill the bread loaves with the artichoke mixture and cover with the lid of the bread

Wrap loves in tin foil and warm in the oven (approx. 160 degrees celcius) for approx. 45 minutes

Remove from oven, remove foil and sprinkle over chopped basil.

Serve on a large platter with croutons (made from the bread you have taken out of the loaf), breadsticks and vegetable crudites.

 My table!

I have just moved house and we still don't have any blinds/curtains in the kitchen, and are using temporary bits and pieces for the moment until we can find the time to go house shopping. However, I managed to find some bits around the house to make the table look pretty, and the kitchen feel cosy, using candles and fairy lights which added a Christmassy and warming feel and definitely made you want to settle down for the night!