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Mary Berry's favourite dinner party menu

Mary Berry's easy dinner party favourite recipes - top uk celebrity chefs - dinner party recipes - UK recipes and food -

The starter
There is nothing nicer than asparagus in season fresh from local farms. It is usual to boil asparagus for dipping into Hollandaise sauce, but chargrilling adds a unique flavour. You can make a quick version of hollandaise by mixing it with a blender.

Try our asparagus recipes

The main course
This classic dish is perfect for dinner parties and the wonderful rich wine sauce is heavenly. You can make it up to 2 days ahead and reheat if before serving, and it also freezes well after it has been cooked - just make sure you defrost thoroughly before reheating.

Try our coq au vin recipe

The side dishes
Mashed potatoes are perfect for serving with coq au vin to soak up that lovely sauce. Minted peas and courgettes are also a nice addition as the two vegetables make a really interesting mix. By scooping out the courgette seeds and cooking the flesh for the shortest time possible, it keeps the courgettes crunchy and gives them a different look. You can swap the courgettes for cucumber for a more summery dish.

Try our minted peas recipe

The dessert
I think pavlova is always a winner as it’s an impressive party dessert and is loved by all ages. I particularly like pineapple and ginger pavlova as it's an intriguing blend of flavours, but you can also use soft summer fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries as an alternative. The meringue can be made well ahead and assembled on the day which makes it a great dish for dinner parties.

Try our strawberry pavlova recipe

Mary Berry’s five top tips for creating your own easy dinner party menu

1) Keep firmly in mind who your guests are and what kind of occasion it is before devising a menu. Are there vegetarians or special dietary requirements? Will it be supper in the kitchen or a feast in honour of a special occasion?

2) Think simple dishes - the main thing is that the ingredients must be fresh, well prepared and properly cooked.

3) Cook with the seasons - a visit to the shops can be just the inspiration you need when you’re planning your menu. Things like asparagus and soft fruits are great for early summer, whilst leeks, chicory and parsnips are at their best in winter.

4) Preparation is the key - with your proposed menu to hand, jot down what you can prepare ahead and what you can freeze in advance to stop last-minute panics. If I’m entertaining I often prepare vegetables several hours in advance and store them in sealed plastic bags in the fridge. This works fine for most types except those that discolour (avocados, globe artichokes, celeriac and Jerusalem artichokes). Plan cooking times with military precision and try to spread your work load between your oven and your hob.

5) If you’re serving a rich main course, it’s best to opt for a fruit-based dessert. If you’re offering a selection of desserts, a fruity one is a must.

Mary Berry's Cookery Course, published by DK, £25, Also available as an eBook to download from the iBookstore and Amazon Kindle Store.

Recipes from Mary Berry's Cookery Course...

Mary Berry's lemon drizzle cake recipe

Mary Berry's perfect burger recipe

Mary Berry's seafood kebabs recipe

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