Fresher’s Food Survival Guide (PART II): Simple & Impressive Dinner Party Menu

Dinner parties are incredibly popular in St Andrews, so it’s good to have a few signature dishes up your sleeve that you can prep on short notice. Excluding the risotto, these dishes can all be made ahead and kept refrigerated until needed – saving a lot of last minute kitchen stress.


The other great option is hosting a Pot Luck dinner where everyone brings a dish: Minimum effort, maximum food and they are a great way to share recipe ideas.

(Remember to check out PART I of this trilogy!)


Trout Pate: Get your omega-fill with this super quick pate



  • A packet of hot smoked trout
  • 2-4 tbsp of cream cheese
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp of chives (finely chopped) (or 1 tbsp dill)
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Roughly break up the trout in a bowl.
  2. Add the other ingredients to taste.
  3. Serve with oatcakes or on toast.



Goats cheese, pea and pancetta risotto

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Risottos are impressive, tasty dishes and surprisingly easy to cook (plus you can keep the rest of the wine to drink during the meal). This could be made into a vegetarian dish by removing the pancetta and adding broad beans.




Ingredients (Serves 4):

  • 120g risotto rice (40g per person)
  • 3/4 wine glass of dry white wine/sherry
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 garlic clove (crushed)
  • 100g soft goats cheese (not too salty) (cut into cubes)
  • Cup of frozen peas
  • Pack of pancetta
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Salt and Pepper


  1. Have a kettle of boiled water at the ready. Soften the onion and garlic in a large saucepan on a medium heat.
  2. Add the rice and cook for 1 minute, stirring through until the rice is slightly translucent.
  3. Add the wine/sherry and turn up the heat a little. Let the alcohol evaporate completely before adding any stock as instructed in step 4).
  4. Add the stock cube and add around a large ladle-full of boiled water to the pan. Keep stirring the pan contents occasionally, letting most of the liquid absorb into the rice before adding any more.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (fan). Tear the pancetta into smaller pieces and lay it out on some foil on an oven tray. Place the tray in the oven and let the pancetta crisp up for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Taste the rice occasionally, you want it to be slightly al dente (e.g. to have a bite). Once you are happy with the texture of the rice, stir in the frozen peas.
  7. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add a knob of butter and cover. Setting the risotto aside for a minute or two allows it to become more oozy and the butter gives it a nice sheen.
  8. Season to taste and serve with the goats cheese and pancetta on top.



Banoffee Pie: Biscuit, banana, caramel and cream – Need we say more?

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Ingredients (Serves 6):

  • 50g butter
  • 125g digestives
  • 200g Carnation condensed milk caramel
  • 2-3 bananas
  • 150ml double cream






  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan on a low heat, or in a microwave. Crush the digestives in a zip-seal bag/large bowl, using the end of a rolling pin. Mix the butter and crushed biscuits together and line the base of tin, (preferably one with a removable base).
  2. Place the tin in the fridge for 15 minutes to set the base a little.
  3. Remove the tin from the fridge and cover the biscuit base with caramel.
  4. Finely slice the bananas and scatter the pieces evenly over the caramel.
  5. Whip the cream in a large bowl and layer over the banana.
  6. Keep in the fridge until you need to serve.




Chocolate dipped strawberries: Super-simple, stylish and satisfying crowd-pleaser

web-Chocolate-Strawberries-Final-098 Ingredients:

  • Strawberries
  • Chocolate (white, milk, dark, a combination?)


  1. Line a large tray with foil
  2. Put a large Pyrex bowl over a saucepan filled to the height of 2-3 inches with boiled water.
  3. Keep the hob on a low temperature and place the chocolate in the bowl. Stir until the chocolate has melted.
  4. Remove from the heat and dip the strawberries into the chocolate, laying them on the tray to cool.

Note: Try to avoid placing these in the fridge –It is better to let the chocolate set at room temperature!



Thanks to loblollies, jamieoliver, and savorysimple for the lovely photos.