Ok, Innernets. Wifey needs assistance.

I host a murder mystery dinner party, most recently for charity, for 11 of our closest local chums (yes, we cheerfully sit down 13 to dinner) at about this time of year. It is the one night of the year that I actually attempt Cuisine. Last year I succeeded in getting Harry babysat for two solid days in a  row, and hence served

Entrée local asparagus spears & poached quail eggs in homemade puff pastry boxes with leek puree

 Main roast lamb, roast pork, yorkshire puddings, roast parsnips parmesan, new potatoes, potato dauphinois, steamed cauliflower, carrots julienne, peas

Dessert trifle, white & dark chocolate raspberry tarts, individually decorated cheesecakes

 Cheese & Biscuits

 Coffee, Handmade Petits Fours, Chocolate Truffles & Mints

I decided against a fish course and felt a bit of a cheat so I will re-instate it this year. 

In 2007, I made the mistake of forgetting precisely whom I was feeding, and stupidly served a starter of terrine of 3 goats cheeses with pine nut salad and a beetroot sauce-type thing. Our farmer pals are, by and large, not foodies. They are strictly (lots of) meat + (lots of) carbs, preferably good solid potatoes + (lots of) veg + no funny business, please. Goats cheese was, sadly, mostly a lil’ way outside their comfort zone.

This year, the following factors apply:

  • My budget is considerably lower than last year
  • I will likely have rather less preparation time
  • I am bored shitless AND stressed by the prospect of cooking Yet Another traditional roast dinner with taties+veg. The saucepanage involved is horrendous, and although I have a double oven, my 4 sealed rings aren’t up to much.

I have to simplify things a little this year, and have decided to serve Roast Absolutely Nothing. 

  • I will do chicken breasts, thigh fillets or quarters (depending on how the budget holds out) in a (fairly conservative) cooking sauce of some kind, which I will bake in my largest oven dish. 
  • New potatoes hold their heat well and can be cooked in advance & kept covered, ergo, they’ve made the menu, too. My dauphinois is universally popular, but I can’t be arsed this year. There’s a recession on, so all that double cream’s practically immoral.
  • I can cope with bunging Bird’s Eye’s petit pois into a saucepan & turning the heat up while John serves drinks, as with this particular vegetable, frozen is pretty tasty. I refuse to serve any other frozen veg.
  • I am serving homemade soup for a starter, as that’s simple to re-heat with the rolls while everyone laughs at each other’s outfits. It’s a costume-charactered murder mystery, didn’t I say?


  • Hubby was, of course, the bearded lady at last year’s Psycho Circus. Our 6ft 4″ (+wig) clown worried 8 month-old Harry considerably. 
  • I am pre-preparing a cold dessert assiette, as this is my favourite part of the meal and I have recipes backed up to the moon I am dying to try.

So! What I really really need from you, oh wondrous innernets, are your tried-and-tested, tasty-but-not-outlandish recipes for

  • nice little fishy nibbley things, preferably salmon, that I can bung on a few salad leaves, or the like for a small fish course. Farmer happily recognise salmon. Suitable for pre-preparation in the morning, cling-filming and fridging. 
  • veggie/side dishes to complement a chickeny dish, new potatoes & peas. It is imperative that I can cook these in advance. The dish must either be happy with being kept warm in my hostess trolley for 4-5 hours (which by no means everything is, I’ve discovered over the years), be microwavably reheatable without hogging my microwave for 15 minutes, or be delicious served cold.

I wish I could promise you a taste of the eventual dish, but all I have to bribe you with is the vicarious pleasure of photos of us crammed into whatever ludicrous costume this year’s mystery dictates. I haven’t bought it yet, let alone re-written it for 13 characters and cast it. 

And now I must go, before the child eats the bird nuts.

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