Wowing my friends with a celebrity chef's recipe. #tassimoperfecthost

One of the things I love most about the village I live in is there are always intelligent and interesting people around who can spare time for a nice relaxing coffee and a chat.

I meet regularly with small groups of friends - weekly with the women I met 21 years ago at our antenatal classes when I was a first time mum, friends I made in the playground when my children started school and friends who like me enjoy crafting (with and without the children).

Of course I could just make some instant coffee and rip the packaging off shop-bought biscuits but the show-off in me likes to present things nicely. I learned it's just as easy to make fabulous coffee-shop standard drinks as instant when you have a Tassimo machine ( as well as more fun!) and with a simple recipe from celebrity chef John Torode I was able to offer my friends some gorgeous shortbread to go with their individually customised coffees.

Along with the shortbread recipe Tassimo sent me some fabulous hosting tips from fashion designer and former "Made In Chelsea" star Millie Mackintosh and coffee expert Hazel Middleton as part of their Tassimo Perfct Host campaign which aims to help everyone become, well, perfect hosts!

The #tassimoperfecthost tips are all simple but guaranteed to make your friends feel like special guests, even when they have just dropped in for a quick cuppa before the school run.

Millie had some great advice about lighting for evening dinner parties, recommending hosts choose candles and lamps to soften a room. I found this advice worked just as well in daytime, especially on the gloomy winter day I had chosen to invite my pals round.

A couple of scented candles and the warm glow from a roaring log fire not only made the room feel cosy but gave off a lovely smell which complemented the aromas from the coffee and the freshly-baked star-shaped shortbread biscuits I had made using John's recipe.

I baked my biscuits in the morning (my friends were arriving at about 1.30pm) but one of Hazel Middleton 's top tips was to make them, or at least the dough the day before to avoid feeling panicky. Good advice if you are not used to hosting. If you can bake just before they arrive though it does make the house smell wonderful and welcoming- another top tip from Tassimo!

Aimee Cowan from Tassimo said:"We know the winter months are an important time of year with friends and family more likely to catch up over a coffee than during other times of year."

I agree and feel although it's nice to meet up in the summer it's somehow more important when you are stuck indoors to make the effort to meet up with other people, especially if you are a SAHM. Otherwise a brief "hello" in a chilly playground might be your only contact with other adults during daylight hours!

Even just an hour and a half set aside from the normal work and chores enjoying a chat and a luxurious treat in the form of a hot beverage and some homemade treats with friends can help make miserable winter day more bearable.

My friends certainly enjoyed our cosy catch-up and it gave me a warm glow when they raved over my biscuits which they said went perfectly with their coffee. It was lovely to have time to share news, and opinions and we were all disappointed when we realised our peaceful interlude was over and it was time to blow out the candles and head out into the cold to pick the children up from school.

If you want to shine as a host feel free to bake these simple but delicious shortbread biscuits using this recipe from Masterchef's John Torode. You can serve them as I did with coffee or for a touch of real sophistication as a dinner party dessert with Affogatto

Affogatto is a coffee-based beverage, typically consisting of vanilla ice cream topped with espresso; however, it’s better when served with a biscuit, especially shortbread. This simple recipe is a great option to have up your sleeve if you need to rustle something up last minute but still want to impress your guests.   
 You will need:
  • 4 bowls 
  • biscuits
  • 8 scoops of vanilla ice cream
  • 4 individual espressos 
Ingredients (for the shortbread): 
  • 200g plain flour
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 200g butter chopped into bits 
  • 1 egg 
  • The zest of half a lemon 
  • 2 drops vanilla essence
  • pinch of table salt

  1. Put the flour, sugar and almonds in a food processor and whizz at full speed for a few seconds.  Add the butter and whizz again briefly; the mixture should resemble fine breadcrumbs.  Add egg, lemon zest and vanilla essence, then whizz again briefly until the pastry forms into a ball.
  2. Scrape contents onto a sheet of cling film, then either shape into a rough ball or roll into a cylinder shape, roughly 5cm in diameter.  Cut into flat discs or stars.
  3. Wrap and chill the biscuit dough for at least 2 hours.  You can also freeze it or make a few days ahead and keep in the fridge.
Bake in a preheated oven at 190C on a flat baking sheet
Once baked and cooled, serve on the side of your affogatto

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post however views and opinions remain honest and my own.