Having friends or family round for dinner and need to impress? Then you need a meal that you know will work wonders and that won't take you away from your guests for too long.
For your main course you could use your slow cooker to knock up a delicious beef stew or pulled pork in advance, and for dessert you could spend the day before prepping a pavlova or this berry yogurt parfait that can be brought out at any time. And for starters you need something quick and easy that you can prep on the night. Who said entertaining was difficult?
Here are six starters you can make in 15 minutes or less...
Figs with parma ham
This traditional Italian starter is pretty as a picture and couldn't be easier to make. Simply take two figs, cut open the tops, wrap in delicious Parma ham, add Gorgonzola and honey and bake. Finish off with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a few toasted pine nuts and hey presto! The sweetness of the figs which are at the height of their season, wrapped in savoury ham and with the added saltiness of the cheese and sweetness of the honey makes for the perfect flavour combination.
Ham, melon and olive skewers
Looking for the easiest starter ever? Look no further than these ham, melon and olive skewers. What might sound like an odd combination actually works really well - the melon is warmed through and browned which adds a lovely sweetness to the savoury olives, ham and basil, and the balsamic glaze injects a lovely vinegary finish. Easy peasy.
Grilled lobster tails
If you're trying to wow, you need to get your hands on some lobster. It may not be the ideal dish for a big crowd, but if you're having a couple of guests round, then it really is super easy and equally impressive. These tasty tails are so easy to prepare; simply place the tails on the grill pan for 8-10 minutes, top with zesty, chilli bread crumbs and serve up.
prawn and crab cocktail with whisky
The whisky addition to this classic 1970s starter helps to add a 21st-century spin and it can be concocted in just 10 minutes. If you want to bulk it out a bit, serve up with freshly warmed bread and butter.
Asparagus, salmon & ricotta open lasagne
Start off your meal right with this smoky fish and creamy ricotta open lasagne. It's so easy to make and could be adapted with whatever greens are in season. We think spiralised courgette, carrot or tenderstem broccoli would also be delicious with this easy and innovative starter.
Classic tomato bruschetta
Ah, bruschetta. The perfect starter to kick off any Italian-themed dinner party. Griddled baguette topped with whatever you like! But we think the best topping has got to be beautifully ripe tomatoes, combined with garlic, red onion, basil and proper olive oil. If you're not a fan of tomatoes, why not try guacamole or figs and brie...