The Dinner Party

For our (so far twice) traditional end-of-year dinner party for myself, my boyfriend and our two colleagues, I gleefully turned to Isabella Beeton’s guidance for Dinner Parties in December.

Of the two options presented (a dinner for 6 or 10 people), I pick-and-mixed selections for each course.

The final menu:

Home-made crackers, guacamole, hummus, cream cheese and Brie

(OK, not from Beeton, but I needed to keep rumbling stomachs satisfied as they arrived.  One of my colleagues brought a Taiwanese acquaintance, who found most of this rather exotic.)


Mulligatawny Soup


Roast Turkey, Sausages and Roast Vegetables


Apple Tart and Coffee

As I wanted a non-meat first course, I opted for Vegetable Mulligatawny Soup.  I couldn’t get my hands on vegetable marrow and there was no way in hell I’d cook with veal knuckles as Isabella Beeton advises, so the final recipe was borrowed from elsewhere (see link below).  I thank her for the inspiration though – I’ve never tried this soup before and everyone really enjoyed it.

The second course was satisfyingly hunger-pang salving and delicious.  I ate a vegetarian version of turkey, but the others polished off the real thing with gusto.  The sausages were homemade – ‘regular’ sausages as we know them are not so common in Germany, a country which takes its sausages quite seriously and would scoff at our so non-artiste (in comparison) breakfast sausages.

The Apple Tart was a big hit.  The custard was not thick enough to set solidly in the tart when I poured custard over the apples before serving, so it oozed enticingly onto plates when the tart was divided up.  It was incredibly tasty and a delectable accompaniment to the coffee.

Just a note for anyone following the original recipe from the abridged book – part of the recipe is based on the previous recipe in the original version– unfortunately, the previous recipe has been taken out of the abridged version.  Luckily the complete unabridged book is available online, so I found the full instructions there (

Having a suggested menu presented in the one place definitely made the dinner party planning so much easier.  Naturally, I still managed to find ways to stress myself in the preparation stage (a crack in the processor blending bowl caused by me dropping it had to be craftily taped up with duct tape before blending the soup.  God bless duct tape and Blue Peter).

I’d love to try out each of her monthly dinner party plans throughout the coming year.  As they’re based on seasonal produce, each one should be entirely different and special.

Definitely something to look forward to!

Mulligatawny Soup: (Note: Isabella spells it ‘Mullagatawny)

Isabella Beeton’s Recipe: (Recipe 174)


Apple Tart: (Recipe 1233)  Custard: (Recipe 404)

Crackers – Basic Recipe

2 cups of plain flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of baking powder, ¼ cup of butter, ½ cup of milk (or half cream, half milk), 1 egg

Mix flour, salt and baking powder together.  Then rub in butter with your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs.  Add the milk and egg.  Mix until it forms a dough (add more flour or milk if necessary).  Knead dough and then roll it out thinly.  Use a round jar-head or biscuit cutter to cut into circles.  Prick across each circle 3 times with a fork (to prevent crackers from puffing up when baking).

Bake at 190 degrees Celsius for 8-10 minutes, until light brown and crisp.  Allow to cool before serving.

Note: Poppy seeds, grated cheese etc. can also be added.


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2 Responses to “The Dinner Party”

  1. Daren Rylands Says:

    A great idea for future recipes this. Thank you for sharing it. Have you noticed how so many people appear to be cooking again? I wonder if the lack of funds due to the current climate has something to do with it and we all appear to be cooking again! its great!

    • modernupstairsdownstairs Says:

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, it’s really great that everyone’s trying to cook more from scratch at home – it’s so much better for understanding what’s going into your food. Not to mention healthier and a lot less expensive!

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