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Course Progression

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I often throw dinner parties and have fallen into a standard way of progressing the meal.

1. Appetizers - hors d'oeurvres and cheese platter set on the coffee table and picked at buffet style.

2. Dinner - served in family style platters and passed around the table. Platters of protein, veggies, sides, and salad.

3. Coffee and dessert - Served at the table.

I've heard many people serve cheese plates or salads after the dinner. But most of my guests usually pick up their salad plate and don't know what to do with it so they set it to the side haha. I'd love to be able to avoid family style once in a while but don't know how to accomplish that without spending all my time in the kitchen. How do you serve your courses?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #2 of 5
I usually put appetizers in various places around the room. End tables, coffee table, etc. Because of the small size of my dining table, and space limitations in general, the main course is put out buffet style on the "peninsula countertop". Folks fill their plates and sit wherever they feel comfortable, and helping themselves to seconds if they want. We are very informal here. My guests always pitch in, so things get cleared away and cleaned up fast after the main course is finished. DH is the self-appointed dishwasher. Then dessert is also served buffet style, with everyone relaxing and visiting, often late into the evening. I see elegant dinner parties on TV and in the movies, with everything done "just so", but that is not our style.
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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post #3 of 5
The magic word is "helper." Or in this case, sous chef. Enlist someone -- one of your guests, your husband or partner, even a child old enough to be in the kitchen -- and get them to help you plate the main course and sides in the kitchen and then bring the plates to everyone at the table. As long as they can be trusted to follow your instructions (I know, that can be difficult for a husband! :lol:), you'll be out of the kitchen in no time.

I'm a big believer in having salad between the main and dessert, and I also love cheese courses. If you plate the two together in the kitchen, you can do that easily, and your guests will be able to have the salad that's so good for them. ;) Just don't have cheese as an appetizer before the meal if you do that, though.

Another possibility for the salad, if you're used to having it earlier in the meal, is to plate it in the kitchen and have your helper bring it out before the main, as a seated first course.

With just one helper, you can make your dinner party so much more elegant! Just like a restaurant. :D
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #4 of 5
I do a lot of dinner parties for 6 or 8. Appetizers on the coffee table - help yourself while DH gets the drinks.
I have the cold soup or salad ready in the kitchen (a half portion for me), place on dinner table, call guests to table. Eat (I finish first, excuse myself and go to kitchen to plate main course), DH clears soup/salad plates and we take in dinner plates. DH or a designated guest is in charge of opening and serving the wine. DH and I remove dinner plates, bring out cheese board with fruit and nuts and small plates, or a plated dessert.
Organization is the key - having all your dishes ready, knowing what goes where and when.
If I am serving anything that requires last minute cooking then it is buffet style....

Having a list helps...
post #5 of 5
Depends on numbers.

For a large group, I prefer serving buffet style. Finger foods are spread around the room, so folks can help themselves while having a drink, and I get the buffet set up.

For smaller groups---four to six guests---I serve sit down, and do the plating, because I love to wow my guests with presentation as well as tasty food. Of course there is always plenty of extra---I grew up in a milieu in which the mothers' favorite entertaining pronouncement was, "who's ready for thirds!"

With a sit-down meal the progression is: first course, salad or soup, depending on what was the first course, entree and sides, dessert. Cheeses and extra appetizers are brought out for filling in the corners as we gather in the living room for socializing after dinner.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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