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Entertaining

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I would like to entertain some friends with the whole evening being based around the food & drink. To be different I was thinking of going really basic/old fashioned/regional eg pie n peas, fish n chips etc.

I am not a very confident cook so would need to prepare as much as poss beforehand & would need a few courses.

I would be grateful for any ideas, Thank You 

post #2 of 12

Hi Janet,

 

Can you tell us a bit more? Like how many people are you going to cater for? Is it going to be a sit-down dinner? Have you done anything like this before? Do you have any info about what your guests really don't like/are allowed  to eat?

 

Also what equipment do you have? Doing fish & chips can be a bit of a mission if you only have 1 deep fryer and are trying to bring out all at the same time. Surely you don't want to stand too long in the kitchen while you're friends are chatting and having fun?

An oven dish would be a better bet in my opinion as it requires a lot less time in the kitchen during the evening itself. Maybe shepard's pie?

 

Another point is that the dishes you are talking about are normally quite heavy dishes and might not go too well with a couple of starters and deserts.

 

If you are not too confident, I would keep the menu quite basic and concentrate on one starter (cold one maybe, made in advance), a main course (oven dish, most work done in advance) and a desert (also mostly made in advance).

 

 

 

 

 

Life is too short to drink bad wine
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Life is too short to drink bad wine
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post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

6 people & sit-down. I have entertained before but these particular friends are very, very good at complicated, sophisticated stuff & that's why I thought I'd go the opposite. I know they'll eat almost anything. Fish n chips was an example really. Yes, I like your idea of cold starters made in advance (any ideas for what?) & an oven dish for the main. Would like to make the meal last for a couple of hours (including breaks for chatting obviously).  Thanks for your help

post #4 of 12

'Old-fashioned' as in British style foods, Aussie, American. Canadian, German or what?

 

Bangers and mash, served with an onion gravy is a great, old-fashioned dish which can be prepared ahead and just reheated.

Shepherd's pie (made with minced lamb, hence shepherd) or cottage pie if made with minced beef

A meat and potato pie

Steak pie

and lots, lots more!

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

I think old-fashioned British would continue the theme. 

post #6 of 12

Sophisticated does not necessarily mean complicated.  You'd be surprised at how complicated fish n' chips can be even if you're making it just for yourself.  My advice is stay away from fried foods when hosting a dinner party.  You'll spend all your time sweating in the kitchen and the whole house will stink of fryer oil.  You'll undoubtedly get a good dusting of flour all over you and by the time you've made your final batch of chips the first batch will be cold and inedible.

 

We have lots of ideas to help you.  But what kind of cuisine are you going for?  Fish n' chips sounds like you're doing good old fashioned british fare.

 

 

"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 #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

Yes, I thought good old British fare. I know I can't compete with the catering of my friends (full evenings Chinese/Indian etc) so I thought it would be novel to do the opposite & go really basic. I don't mind putting in the work beforehand but am not confident enough to cook in front of people really.

post #8 of 12

Then bangers n mash, or sheperds/cottage pie would be ideal.  Both can be made in advance and for the mash, you can even prepare the onions and gravy ahead of time, too!  Something like Lancashire Hotpot or Irish Stew would also serve a lot of people and all made ahead.  Fish pie, using good white fish, some salmon and a few prawns or langoustine for luxury, is also a nice old-fashioned dish.

 

Apple crumble, cranachan, good old-fashioned English trifle or the Scots equivalent, Tipsy Laird, as pudding -all of which can be made ahead.

post #9 of 12

Tell us, what did you end up making and how did your dinner party turn out?

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

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Life is too short to drink bad wine
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post #10 of 12

I would go with Ishbel and the sheps pie concept. I would make each one individual, served with either a cold app or salad first .(if salad in a large bowl where they can help themselves at the table) 

    Dessert can be a bowl of fresh cut  fruit where each can take as much or little as they like

  , Or  a whole cake that can be served whole and sliced at the table (again you are with guest) 

You want to be a guest at your own party which is correct way to go. Main concept here is to try and spend as little time in kitchen after the guest arrival as possible. GOOD lUCK

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

I haven't set a date yet for the dinner party but I am very grateful to everyone for their help & will definitely be using some of your ideas smile.gif

post #12 of 12
What are your best dishes and styles? It always helps to work from strength. I'm talking about YOUR strength, not someone else's.

Given the amount of time you're willing to spend at dinner, and the length of breaks you're willing to take between courses -- this should not be any kind of problem. Planning is key, but you've given yourself a lot of leeway, which is good.

Having something ready to go when people walk in the door is a good thing. However, figure that anything on the cocktail table or passed before dinner, will take away from what you can serve at the actual dinner. Budget your food amounts accordingly. You want generous, not excessive.

Doing as much as possible ahead of time is a good thing. You knew that.

If you need to borrow large pans, arrange to borrow them and pick them up earlier than the day before. If you plan on cooking large quantities in a single pan, you need a large pan -- don't overcrowd. Overcrowding kills.

Prep your serving pieces well in advance. Put them where you can get to them when you need them.

Assuming a slightly higher than normal skill level than for most home cooks, when cooking for more than four, it's not a good idea to do sautes or other hot-pan dishes which call for more than two pans with timing issues going at the same time.

Unless...

You seem to have a group which has eaten together more than a few times, and must have established some of its own traditions. Do people gather in the kitchen to socialize while the cooking is ongoing? If they do, you can get away with some tricky stuff. You can probably even get someone to take over a pan for you.

Mise, mise, mise, and mise. Everything ready to go.

Speaking of your group's traditions -- how are you planning on handling cocktails, dinner drinks, and after dinner drinks? That has a lot to do with planning, or can, or should, or whatever. What about coffee and dessert service? How do you get old courses off the table and new ones on? Do you do any cleaning between courses?

With the coming of autumn, it might be interesting to go seasonal as well as (or even instead of) regional.

Any chance that you'll be able to work with an outdoor grill? That takes a lot of pressure off the kitchen, and gets the boys involved as well.

Fish and chips is probably not a great idea for a six or eight person dinner party. The amounts are difficult to handle without some really big fryers -- but mostly it's the smell. Unless you cook outside your house will smell like fried fish for the entire evening (and the next day, too).

Where do you live? Your own region might provide a lot of possibilities.

Lots of questions, eh.

I'm thinking along the lines of:
Passed and cocktail table apps;
Soup;
First;
Sorbet or salad;
Main;
Dessert


Let's work on getting specific,
BDL
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