Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dinner Party Countdown

The countdown has begun for my first-ever dinner party which is less than a week away. Of course, I’ve had friends over before, but usually, they were impromptu affairs – beer and Thai take-out with old friends.

This time, I’m going all out. I already sprung for the fancy letterpress invitations and now I’m sparing no expense in planning the big event. I’ve inquired about renting a table and chairs and am thinking I might spring for the table cloth, linen napkins, place settings and silverware. I’m not sure if I’ve got any other options unless I want to serve dinner on paper plates with plastic cutlery and paper napkins (I don’t).

After taking requests and mulling over the suggestions, I have finally decided what I’m going to serve. I’m tempted to be sheepish about it and hold off until I report back afterward. But I know that I can’t keep a secret and I don’t want to keep you waiting.

So here is the (tentative) menu:

1. Green salad
2. Slow-Cooker Beef Burgundy from The Best Slow & Easy Recipes
3. Roasted Brussels Sprouts Tossed with Balsamic Vinegar and Bacon
4. Baguette (but of course!)
5. Apple Spice Cake from The Joy of Cooking accompanied with Vanilla ice cream (not homemade, I’m afraid) and coffee/tea
6. Cheese Course

I may serve some pate and grapes to start things off. As you can tell, I'm trying to keep things relatively simple and stick to dishes a few quality dishes I can prepare in advance.

I don't want to be stressing when the guests arrive. I'd rather be spending time enjoying my guests than scrambling in the kitchen.

As the wonderful writer Laura Shaine Cunningham wrote:

The best dinner parties are those where the hostess appears not taxed, but relaxed. What do guests truly want? To be welcomed, and to talk. If the dinner is too studied, it can become a funeral for food — guests taking choreographed sips and nibbles, conversation as strained as the purée.

A little imperfection makes everyone feel at home. The slapdash but happy hostess has happy guests.

Along those lines, I am guessing that my guests will feel at home because this slapdash hostess is destined to be imperfect and hopefully, happy.



Susan Blumberg-Kason said...

Letterpress invitations? I love it!! Enjoy your big day! I know it will be fabulous!

Merle said...

What kind of dressing for salad?
Not to worry you..but I always stress out with a salad..because if I put the dressing on early..it gets soggy..and I don't know if everyone likes the same kind of dressing...and I can't serve the bottled stuff..
Then..when I add the dressing at last minute..the salad strinks so much that I worry that I won't have enough. I could not cook when I got married and I've learned..but for me it turned out a myth that cooking can be learned from a cookbook..it is trial and error..baptism by fire!!!merle

Merle said...

oops.shrinks so much..merle

Undomesticated Me said...

Ooh, thanks Merle for reminding me about salad dressing and not to put it on early. I don't think I can serve anything bottled.
Do you have any dressings you could recommend?

Bernie Bernstein said...

It's Me, Mom, - To make it easy, you could just serve oil and vinegar in two little dishes (if you don't have cruets). Make sure it's extra virgin olive oil and, perhaps, balsamic vinegar. Or, check your Joy of Cooking. There must be a recipe for a nice, easy dressing. Good Luck!

KSF said...

I also turned up my nose at "the bottled stuff" until I discovered Annie's salad dressings a couple of years ago. They're truly delicious, and don't have that sugary taste or gelatinous texture that many bottled dressings do. My favorites: Shiitake Sesame and Goddess. She also does basic vinaigrettes (one pomegranate, one balsamic). Honestly, I haven't found a bad one.

Undomesticated Me said...

Thanks, KSF. We like Annie's dressing too. I'm glad I ran into you this morning so you can explain how you dress the salad before you serve it. I didn't want to put bottles out on the table.

Lisa said...

Your menu sounds great! I'm impressed that you're doing invites and linens and the whole works. Don't worry about the dressing. Your friend is right--just pour it over the salad right before you serve it and it will be perfect. Good luck!

Heather said...

I've started making my own salad dressing. It's 3 parts olive oil, 1 part white wine vinegar. Add 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard per 1/4 cup of the vinegar. Salt and black pepper to taste plus a handful of fresh thyme or oregano. Mix all ingredients in a blender, food processor or with the immersion blender. It's very easy and delicious. Enjoy!

Zephyr Eurova said...

Remember, I'm jealous that I'm missing this date. Don't make it sound really really wonderful after the event, ok? ;)
By the way, when are you going to talk about the CLEANING part of domestication - like the frenzied house cleaning one has to budget into prep time for a dinner/party?

Undomesticated Me said...

Oh no! You just reminded me that I forgot to clean the house. And I haven't even considered what I'm going to wear to this thing. Looks like I've got some work set out for me. Meanwhile, "Zephyr," wish you could join us. If this dinner party works out, I promise to hold another one soon...well, maybe not too soon, but in the somewhat near future (How's that for a commitment?)