Post Office manager Jack Bedford, 48, from Bracknell, has devised a winning dinner party menu that’s as healthy as it is delicious. As the designated chef in his household, Jack wanted to create a dinner party menu that would be low calorie, impressive and leave him with plenty of time to enjoy the company of his guests.
“I love cooking for friends and family,” Jack explained. “But as my wife and I are keen to eat healthily, we didn’t want to blow our diets just because we had friends coming round. We also realised that many of our friends tend to watch their weight, so a calorie-laden meal isn’t always a welcome invitation, even though they love to come for the company. I decided to try out a few low calorie dishes and the menu I’ve come up with is always a hit – in fact, friends call up to check that we’re going to have my famous low calorie menu now!”
“My low calorie dinner party starts with a platter of olives and crudités. I serve that with gin and slim line tonics. I just buy the freshest vegetables and then peel and cut them so they look fancy! To start, I fire up the BBQ and cook about a kilo of shell-on prawns between four people. I have a large silver platter and just put that in the middle of the table for everyone to help themselves. You do need plenty of napkins though as it’s a very messy business, but it’s sociable and a great talking point.”
Jack leaves the BBQ on while he and his guests are enjoying their prawns so it’s nice and hot to cook the main course. “I try to get most of the main prepared well in advance of my guests arriving,” Jack continued. “To make my wasabi beef and wild rice, I marinate slices of filet steak (or sirloin if I’ve not been paid!) in a little soy and mirin for an hour or two. I slice spring onions and wash plenty of spinach. Just before we sit down for the starter I put a mixture of half brown basmati rice and half wild rice on to cook. When we’ve finished the prawns, I put the slices of beef on the BBQ and steam the spinach – they both only take about three minutes. To plate it up, I put a dome of the rice in the middle of the plate, add on the slices of beef, put some spinach on the side and pour over a dressing of soy, honey, sesame oil and wasabi. I use the spring onions as a garnish.”
The low calorie dinner party dessert is very easy and very tasty, not to mention cheap and impressive! Jack explained, “All I do for pudding is mix together a few tins of pineapple with some chopped mint and a glug of vodka. I do that in the afternoon and by the time we’re ready, it’s a lovely boozy mixture! Everyone loves it and it’s virtually calorie free.”