How to create a showstopping dinner

Anyone who knows me personally will know I like entertaining! I definitely inherited this from my parents as we had people over for dinner almost weekly whilst growing up.

It’s not that hard to create a showstopping dinner. It’s all about the presentation! You can turn a not-so-complicated dish into an amazing showstopper with just the right statement crockery pieces. My favourite dish is a roast leg of lamb as it’s pretty special without doing much to it. The most important part being that the lamb has to be delicious (obviously) but to make it look wow depends on what theme/cuisine you’re going for.

If you’re having around 6 – 8 people for dinner then roast lamb with all the sides is enough. However if you’re like any typical Asian family then chances are there will be lots more guests, and you’ll need to cook extra dishes! But making the roast the centrepiece is key.

For the lamb I suggest this really weird but yummy recipe but you can cook your lamb anyway you want. If there are just a few dinner guests then you can use a lamb shoulder instead. Equally wow.

The main thing when creating a showstopper is the presentation. While a roast and trimmings can be quite ordinary, using a large platter to serve them instantly upgrades a sunday roast to a sunday feast. I managed to find a link to the platter I use, which I received as an Engagement gift. At the time I was like, ok what on earth am I going to use this for? But once I had space to keep it in the kitchen (and out of the loft) it makes an appearance a few times a year. I also have a smaller version of this which I use a lot more regularly.

I have a collection of wooden boards and slates I’ve accumulated over the years that are essential to create that wow factor. Here are a few ideas if you’re looking for some statement pieces:

Two tier slate stand

Wooden folding stand

Large round platter

Morrocan style platter

Turkish serving bowls

Funky stand

I love creating a Middle Eastern theme, which means that I will serve the lamb on a bed of jewelled rice. By that I mean buttery rice, with vermicelli strands, cashew nuts and raisins. I made it up but it’s inspired by different rice dishes eaten in Middle Eastern cuisine. You start by frying a handful of broken vermicelli in butter and oil and then adding the washed rice and salt and stir. Next add water. Once the rice is 3/4 cooked, lower the heat, put the lid on and let it steam cook for 15-20 mins, or more if necessary.

In a frypan, fry the cashew nuts and sultanas in a bit of butter until their colour changes – around 5 mins.

When it comes to serving, spoon out the hot rice onto the platter and sprinkle the buttered nuts and sultanas on top. Next place your lamb on it carefully. For sides I would serve hummus, baba ganoush, olives, tzatiki all in identical bowls. Fatoush salad or any green salad goes well too. Don’t forget the garnishing – I used parsley in the photo above.

And then according to the number of guests you can add sides. I’ve served chicken tikka on the side with naan bread, or a potato based dish. You can also serve a pasta dish if there are kids coming. Anything really!

Instagram and Pinterest are good sources for inspiration but can be a bit overwhelming sometimes. You definitely don’t want style over substance when it comes to a dinner party. I really like Recreating Recipes to create easy platters which look amazing.

Hope you enjoyed today’s post which is part of the blog challenge I’m doing.

Below are some other ideas that you can create to accompany your showstopper or are mini showstoppers in their own right.

Side in identical bowls
Cheeseboard with dips and olives in matching Turkish bowls

How to make breadsticks look cool

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