Whether you're a health-foodie, a lazy cook, a lousy baker or just a little disorganised, putting together a meal for a group of people can be full of dilemmas. There's nothing quite like a the lingering arrival of guests and your kitchen being covered in one hundred pans, you with sweat on your brow and an odd stench of onion through your hair. Putting together a meal that satisfies all tastes and needs is an art and if you're not a catering dream machine, you can end up being completely overwhelmed and as putting yourself at risk of cancelling the dinner 10 minutes before everyone is set to arrive. - "THEY'RE NOT EVEN GOING TO LIKE WHAT I'VE MADE".
To avoid falling into a mini nervous breakdown and to make sure you enjoy your own party - you can do a few things to ease the load. Making a starter, main and dessert is a massive undertaking so spread things out.
- Entrees - You can make an entree without making anything at all. Some dip, olives, extra virgin olive oil and fresh bread is all anyone needs to feel like they're off to a good start. Arrange it on a platter in a pinterest-inspired fashion and you'll have your friends snapping photos and uploading them in no time. If you've got a gluten-free guest, ensure you provide an alternative for dipping such as crudités or gluten-free crackers. Having options means that from the health-concious to the gourmet foodie, everyone is satisfied.
- Mains - This is where things can get a bit tricky. Acknowledge that this is likely to be the most time-consuming dish and be okay with it. If you know all your friends eat meat, a BBQ or roast is a great way to make your meal less complicated. If you have a vegetarian or vegan in the crowd, you will need to make something substantial for them as well. This doesn't have to be hard though. Making something in advance is always a good option as you can reheat it with the rest of the meal while it's cooking. A spinach and feta pie is a good choice, or even some zucchini fritters. If you are going with a BBQ-inspired meal, including a hearty salad like this grain salad is more than enough to keep everyone's tummy satisfied, meat or no meat. Add a few roast potatoes and a green salad and that's all you need to make a meal one to remember.
- Dessert- and now I am getting to the point. Dessert is a nice part of a meal. It rounds everything off and ends the meal on a high note (sugar high note?). The thought of making a whole main meal and then whipping up a dessert can be daunting for most of us. You're also more likely to fail at getting the dessert perfect as there is less room for error. Well, until now. This recipe for these vegan truffles can ease all your dessert anxiety. They are so easy to make, appeal to the healthy ones and the indulgent ones and aren't too much sweetness but just enough. Make these ahead of time and have them ready to go for when the plates are cleared, belly's are full and everyone's hoping someone will offer them a cup of tea.
This recipe is raw, gluten free, vegan and refined sugar free. You can customise it however you wish by including some cacao nibs or coating them in desiccated coconut. I even added a few drops of mint essential oil to mine to make them the ultimate after dinner mint. Any which way, you will be a happy host and your guests will be happy too.
Makes around 12 truffles
2 cups dates, soft and pitted
3 tbsp cacao powder, or carob powder + extra for dusting
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted but cool
1 tspn ground cinnamon
1/2 tspn cayenne powder (if you dare)
a pinch of salt
1. Add all the ingredients to your high speed blender/food processor/mini chopper and blitz until a smooth paste.
2. Rub coconut oil into the palm of your hands and begin rolling the paste into balls. The coconut oil will stop the paste from sticking to your hands.
3. Once they are all uniform, set up a plate with cacao powder on it so you can coat each ball in a fine dusting of it just like real truffles. This is where you could use other things such as desiccated coconut (as pictured).
4. Serve immediately or place in an air-tight container to be refrigerated or left out to be served in the next short while.
- These truffles are countertop friendly meaning they don't necessarily need to be put in the fridge. The warmer they are, the more gooey they are so if you want gooey don't put them in the fridge.
- If you prefer your treats on the harder side, leave these truffles in the fridge overnight. They will harden up slightly but still remain soft in texture.
- If you want to spike the flavour, do so when you are combining the mix. If you are wanting to add choc chips, add these after you have blitzed the mix to make sure you don't over combine and break down the chips.