8 December 2021
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Baking a name for yourself - creating client dinner perfection

Sarah Green
22 October 2010

If having your friends to dinner isn’t stressful enough, imagine what it’s like to invite your colleagues, maybe your boss and some major clients.

Don’t get stressed – get planning. It is the key to all entertaining. Just like you would at work, make lists!
Grab a cup of tea, put aside half an hour and write it all down.

  1. Plan a menu, including wines and drinks.
  2. Write a shopping list from it.
  3. Write a list of what you need to do.
  4. Work out what needs to be done around the house.
  5. And what you are going to wear.

Having these people to dinner is about impressing (let’s be honest), so the fact that you may not be the world’s best cook is really a moot point – the most impressive thing will be that it’s obvious that you were organised. When you are organised, you are more relaxed and your wonderful personality will shine through, making you even more impressive (the in control person that people want to work with).

And don’t forget the obvious – don’t drink too much!

The other thing I do emphasise is to keep the food simple. It is easier to execute, therefore, more time to spend with your guests and more likely to accommodate all tastes. Do check with them for any food allergies and religious diet requirements.

Also, a little bit of cheating is more than allowed – like buying a lemon tart instead of making it. Just get one that looks homemade, dust with icing sugar and add lots of berries and cream.

An easy menu for client entertaining

  • Champagne on arrival – with a big bowl of fresh roasted cashews
  • Entree – prawns with avocado and mango
  • Main – eye fillet of beef with a red wine sauce and large green salad
  • Dessert – lemon tart with berries and cream

Prawns with avocado and mango (serves eight)

You’ll need:

  • 24 prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 1 large mango, peeled and diced
  • 2 avocadoes
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Cracked pepper
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • ¾ cup of mayonnaise, preferably homemade!
Then you:
  1. Place the prawns over a small bunch of the watercress in the middle of a plate.
  2. Place two slices of mango on top of the prawns.
  3. Then put a spoon of diced mango on top of the avocado.
  4. Spoon a tsp of lemon juice and olive oil on top of each.
  5. Top with a dollop of mayonnaise and a sprig of watercress.

N.B. This is all about the presentation as the flavours all speak for themselves!

Eye fillet of beef with a red wine sauce (serves eight)

You’ll need:

  • 1 large eye fillet – try and get a long thin one as the slices look much better on a plate
  • 3 cups of red wine
  • 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
  • 1 tbsp seed mustard
  • 100g butter
Then you:
To make the sauce
  1. Place the red wine, redcurrant jelly and the mustard in a saucepan.
  2. Simmer till the sauce is reduced by half.
  3. Add the butter and stir till it has melted.
  4. Place the sauce to the side and reheat just prior to serving.

To cook the beef

  1. Make sure the fillet is well trimmed.
  2. You may need to tie the fillet with butcher’s string at ½ inch intervals so it will hold its shape well.
  3. Place in a preheated 200C oven for about 35 to 40 minutes.
  4. Remove and rest covered with aluminium foil for 10 minutes before you serve.
  5. Serve ¾ slices per person on each plate and spoon over some sauce.
  6. On each plate near the beef place a teaspoon of both Dijon and seed mustard.

N.B. Serve with boiled baby chat potatoes and a large green salad (I would just use olive oil for the salad dressing or it will be too rich).

Lemon tart

You’ll need:

For the pastry
  • 150g butter
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 25g icing sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
For the filling
  • 3 eggs (1 egg yolk)
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 150mL cream
  • 150g sugar
  • Icing sugar to dust tart
  • Raspberries to serve
  • Thick cream to serve
Then you:
For the pastry
  1. Rub the butter into the flour until it is the consistency of breadcrumbs.
  2. Add all the other ingredients and mix together until the dough reaches a uniform texture – wrap in plastic and pop into the fridge for an hour.
  3. Roll the pastry out on a floured surface and line a greased flan dish (28cm) prick the base with a fork and bake for about 10 mins in a preheated 190C oven.

For the filling

  1. Whisk the eggs till they are light and fluffy, add the rest of the ingredients (it can be done in a food processor).
  2. Pour into the pastry case and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes till filling is set.
  3. To serve, place a slice of tart on each plate and dust with icing sugar and next to the tart place a spoonful of thick cream and handful of raspberries.

Or, if you have no time, consider a caterer. I can help in that area. Just saying.

Hungry? Check out Green’s posts here.

Or, in the mood for a story? Read culinary great Luke Mangan’s rise to fame here.

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