As Easter approaches and the first of the Holiday times of the year, it is often a time for family and friends to gather and celebrate this religious festival or to just note the start of spring and rebirthing of the countryside and garden.
In a previous note we noted the responsibility of a host when sending out an invitation to potential guests and giving as much detail as possible. In a like manner the potential guest also has a responsibility to behave in a certain manner too.
- Primarily it is imperative that you respond to the invitation as soon as possible or advise any difficulties you may have in attending or not attending.
- Depending on the event as a guest you are also obliged to advise your host of any dietary preferences or allergies you may have – in advance and not at the event so that adequate provision may be made.
- If you are delayed in attending advise as soon as possible.
May we now have some guidelines of gifts? Your hosts’ invitation may have indicated a requested contribution. This could be ‘bring a bottle’ or a ‘plate’. Hopefully they should have given a guideline of what is required making the choice or contribution clear. In terms of quantity if bottles, then one per person is appropriate in the case of wine.
Please note that if you are invited to a dinner then your host has probably chosen wines to compliment the Fare to be offered – so if taking a bottle then do not expect to drink it. (On one occasion a guest presented a bottle and having not drunk it, proceeded to take it home with them!)
Personally I often try and present a gift more suited to the occasion. I often take deli items. Such as Fresh Ground Coffee, Tins of Pate, Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Herbs, Homemade preserves, Sweets or Chocolates. All of these being a contribution to the hosts larder and possibly something they would not usually buy unless for a treat. The value I think about the value of the food to be consumed as a thumb line idea.
If flowers are chosen they should ideally be an arrangement or posy that demands no attention when presented especially if it is a large party or event. Alternatively you can send flowers in advance or after the event expressing your gratitude.
Post event will depend on your relationship with the host. If close then a phone call or email can be acceptable, In this age we live now, technology affords text as well. A little more polite and formal, a hand written note more desirable and especially if the invitation had been formally sent. Ideally, immediately after the event so that your host is assured of your enjoyment and safe return home.
You as a guest should not be expected to return the hospitality and it is ill mannered of your host to expect so.
Going back to our Easter Festival one thinks of Chocolate Eggs. Families can have a ‘Find the Easter Bunny’ in the garden for children and adults the same. Hide numerous treats around the garden and let the gathering find them. If numerous children then prepare and provide ingredients to make Easter Bonnets – Chocolate Crispi’s or Edible Bird’s Nests with baby eggs. Egg painting though complex can also be undertaken.
Lamb is often the chosen meat for a Family Dinner or Sunday Luncheon at this time of the year. This month I offer two alternatives for you to try.
Buy a ‘butterflied’ boned out Leg of Lamb (serves 6 – 8)
Place in a plastic bag overnight with either of the following marinades.
Marinade 1 Marinade 2
2tbsp chopped fresh rosemary 1 tsp each, smoked paprika, fennel seedsand cumin
2tbsp chopped fresh thyme 3 garlic cloves, crushed
zest 2 lemons 1 tsp saffron, crushed
6 garlic cloves, crushed 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
130ml (4½fl oz) olive oil olive oil
3 fresh bay leaves 100g membrillo (quince paste), melted , or use fig jam or apple chutney
Once marinated lay the Lamb on a trivet skin side up over a roasting pan lined with foil.
Roast in a hot oven (200C Gas 6) for about an hour depending on how you like your Lamb cooked.
Remember as it has no bone it will cook quicker.
In the case of Marinade 2 the Quince Paste or Jam is spread over the Lamb about a half hour before the end of cooking to glaze the joint and should caramelize nicely.
You may put chopped vegetables underneath and roast them too if you wish – new potatoes – carrots – courgettes – sweet potato – parsnips – add baby tomatoes in the last half hour.