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last minute dinner party

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
A friend called this morning and asked me to cook dinner for her and her team (5 people total) tomorrow night. She is holding a meeting bc they are coordingating 2 weddings on saturday afternoon. She said she was going to pick up Panera again (like the last meeting), but then thought of me. She asked me do cook last time, but we were out of town.

She has a budget of $65-$70 and I am not charging anything to do it.

My first thought was, its spring time here in NC was lots of nice fresh veggies.

STARTER: baby shrimp and tomato napoleon- do the shrimp like a shrimp salad..mayo, onion, sweet peas and do a 3 tier napoleon.

SALAD: mixed greens, walnuts, gorgonzola cheese, diced pears, balsamic & oil dressing

ENTREE: Coq au Vin- is this too "fall" to serve now? or should i do something with mixed bell peppers, mushrooms and white wine; or maybe do the chicken with white wine, green grapes and a splash of cream (the name of that escapes me right now)

DESSERT: strawberry shortcakes


while i havent gone to the store to price everything, i dont think it'd be a problem to come in at that budget.

my "concern" (and it really isnt much of one) is the entree. which way to go.

I want to call her back in the next hour or so... haha, i know its short notice people...but anything quick thoughts/words of encouragment would be great
post #2 of 18
Thread Starter 
ok, well its set. she called me first. i told her what i was thinking...

salad course: as seen above

entree: she wants the Coq au Vin- ok, not 100% traditional, as i am not making it today and serving tomorrow, but i'll cook it for 5 or 6 hrs tomorrow. Is it a cardinal sin to just use diced onion as opposed to pearl onions?

she chose this bc she said she had been wanting to make it herself.

dessert: as seen above
post #3 of 18
pearl onions are in most grocery store freezer sections, small bag under $3.....in my book fresh is best, frozen, then diced.......I'd do the frozen.
lardons make a super touch too....hard to get unless your butcher/grocery has slab bacon they will cut thick (1"+).

reads like a good menu. Throw in rolls or a baguette.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #4 of 18
What are you gonna use for the Napoleon in between layers of shrimp?
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
i was gonna use the slices of tomato as the seperation

make a shrimp salad- shrimp, mayo, sweet peas mixture


tomato
shrimp
tomato
shrimp
tomato
sour cream or creme fraiche w/chives


BUT, its a moot point, she said skip it
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Are lardons the same as side meat? i can get side meat cut in any amount from our farmers market. its labeled as "side meat". Kinda looks more like "fat back" to me, but it does have a tiny bit of meat on it, where as "fat back" has none
post #7 of 18
lardons are from slab bacon.....you just cut it thick and then cut into rectangle chunks. There is meat involved.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #8 of 18
And if you can't find that then use pancetta. Same cut of meat but it's not smoky.

How are you serving the coq au vin? I make this as comfort food for us at home but never think to serve it to guests because it can get messy. I like accompanying it with rice pilaf.

"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 #9 of 18
Pancetta might get expensive, though. Be careful with the "side meat", in case, like fat back often is, it's salted. I wouldn't think a low incidence of meat (vs. fat) in lardons would be a problem if you don't overdo it. Do watch out for very smoky slab bacon: if you use it, use a very small amount, or the flavor will be unbalanced.

Frozen pearl onions are very often superior to fresh, because the fresh ones commonly don't turn over very quickly. Unless the grocery store is super-assiduous about storage, the onions have been sitting in light for quite some time, and are bound to have begun germinating -- or they're dried out. They're also a pain in the tail to peel, which is OK if they're good enough to make it worth doing. Frozen vegetables get an unfairly bad rap a lot of the time, and pearl onions are one of the good things.

I would definitely start thinking very hard about how you're going to serve coq au vin. Stew is problematic as party food!
post #10 of 18
Chris that's not been my experience, actually I prefer something that can take a reheat without drying out.

This is a drop off right? Surely you are not staying to serve.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #11 of 18
Oh, I didn't mean that, I just meant in terms of people trying to eat sloppy stuff. But I'm sure as heck not going to argue with YOU about catering! :suprise:
post #12 of 18
Frozen vegetables are typically at their peak stage of ripeness compared to the fresh that has sat in a truck/warehouse/grocery store for days after it was picked. I prefer frozen for general quick meals in the winter when my garden isn't available because it is hard to get anything fresh here that hasn't sat in storage to long.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
maybe "party" isnt the right word here. It is the owner, my wife (PT wedding coordinator/FT Teacher), and 2 women that are being given a trial run at a wedding this weekend. Tonights "meeting" is basically to sit down and chat about what will happen, how it will happen, etc. I am sure they already have experience, just new to this company.

I am serving it with some roasted red skin potatoes. I was planning to serve it over top of the potatoes. In the past, i've done mashed potatoes, and it sucks up all the good broth. So i think i'll only do a quick smash, so they arent as absorbant.

I am staying to plate the 3 courses, and will prbbaly also eat dinner in the kitchen while they do, whatever it is they are doing.

I was planning to pick up a nice crusty baggette on the way over.

On a side note, i am now taking some payment for this meal. She gave me a flat amount of money to buy what I needed and was told to keep the rest. I figure to profit about $40. That is probably under market value, but I was willing to just do it for free as a friendly gesture.
post #14 of 18
market value.....nice salad $8-10
coq au vin $20-25
dessert $8-10
Approx $40 each, 6 $240
staff to plate $100 minmum

That's if a caterer will touch an event for 6 without a minimum $ amount.......
as it's not a "real catering gig" $40 and experience is a good deal if it works for you. Many newbies will do freeby events just to gain experience.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #15 of 18
I thought we could be friends but alas we cannot. I prefer my potatoes to do all the soaking up.

Haha just kidding have a good time.

"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 #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
We can still be friends...i just wanted the potatoes to leave a little broth on the plate so that the crusty bread could get in on the action, thats all!


Dinner went off without a hitch. I think I even impressed myself with how well it went. I got alot of positive feedback from the 4 ladies and I am looking forward to doing it again in about a month.

I even ended up making shortcakes, as opposed to using those round sponge cake cups from the grocery store. :smiles:
post #17 of 18
smart move, they are easy and relatively fast to make......
sometimes I add some orange zest to the dough & top with coarse sugar.....or use lemon curd in addition to strawberry goo.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #18 of 18
Well that's a whole different story then, crusty bread dippers are my best friends. Glad it worked out so well.

"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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