Advice needed for a dinner party this Saturday...

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Advice needed for a dinner party this Saturday...

Postby Scott Hinson » Mon Nov 13, 2006 1:03 pm

This Saturday we are hosting a few co-workers for a wine tasting. I would like to provide some tapas style foods that are tasty and could be used to match well with the wines, but also allow people to get a meal in something less than a formal setting. (I’m kind of stuck with not doing a formal setting, which would be my first choice, because work will be killer on Friday and possibly Saturday during the day when hardware I’ve been waiting 3 weeks for will arrive…)

There are several questions in this email...I apologize for dumping all of this at once...but I'd like to serve good food and not kill myself being up 24 hours for work and this party to do it!



Here are my menu choices so far and my prep plan.

Misto Plate
Easy to plate on Saturday, since I’ll have everything sliced at the Deli Counter. Will serve with bread and balsamic vinegar in Illy Espresso Cups.

Mini Pizza’s
Bite size pizzas with goat cheese, and a quartered cherry tomatoes.

Can I roll the dough, add cheese and cover/fridge on Thursday night, adding the tomatoes on Saturday before placing into the oven? Or will the cheese and dough on each other for 48 hours be bad? Or will the dough dry out/go bad?

Italian Beef Kabobs
Beef Kabobs with a choice of two Sauces/Toppings:
Balsamic Vinegar Reduction
Marscapone/Yogurt/Basil Sauce with Carmelized Onions.

Can I create the balsamic vinegar reduction on Thursday and hold in the fridge until Saturday, warming in a water bath?

Can I caramelize the onions and hold the same way, warming over low heat in a sauce pan?

If I can't caramelize the onions, how early can I slice them and store them in the fridge before they turn so bitter as to be unusable? 1 day, a few hours?


Crème Brulee

Cook on Thursday night…I’ve done this two days before and it was fine. Must sugar and burn on Saturday otherwise it will get soggy….crème brusoft….


Any other suggestions?

Thanks again for any help!

Scott
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Re: Advice needed for a dinner party this Saturday...

Postby Ian Sutton » Mon Nov 13, 2006 2:38 pm

Personally I'd go simpler than this for sake of my sanity.

Antipasto misto - perfect! Easy, can be sorted out in advance and everyone chooses what they want.

The question is, do you then expand this out to be a buffet / tapas style - or treat it as a starter? I'd prefer the former for simplicity. However if you go for the latter then various pizza's fresh baked would be good. Beware however that if you make pizza base fresh, it's easiest to set that on the tray/rack it will be cooked on and then add the ingredients (they tend to be very fluid, unlike the cardboard-like pre-cooked ones the shops sell). So I'd prepare the mix a short time in advance, then roll as late as possible. Then put on the tray and add the (pre-prepared) ingredients and have it cooking whilst the antipasto is being eaten. Get someone to be on slicing duty whilst you load the subsequent pizza's into the oven.

Other tapas style food - roast potatoes with a light coating of paprika are usually good fillers (and again you can pre-boil in advance to prep them); Baked chorizo sausage thickly sliced; one personal favourite: mushrooms baked with a topping/filling of herb, onion, tomato and salami (all finely chopped) with or without cheese on top of that (for smaller ones, maybe 8-10 mins in the over should be fine); plenty of other choices.

What worries me is you'll be slaving over the oven and missing the wines. So as an alternative, go through each wine with relatively small pours and some simple cold food to stave off hunger (perhaps the bread, cold meats and perhaps some pate).

Then put the hot food on and bring it to the table as it comes out, letting people try out which wines match well with which food as they go. The benefit of this is you get to taste each wine yourself, so won't feel cheated if you miss any re-tastes with the food.

I'd only do pudding/dessert if you've specifically got a wine to match with it (and thus hold this wine back from the initial session) - and then I'd still choose something simple (e.g. baked apples or fresh fruit or maybe a cake/tart you've prepared in advance). I once did a couple of dessert wines with a selection of french/moroccan bite size cakes I bought from a local shop - it went well.

Hope it goes well

Ian
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Re: Advice needed for a dinner party this Saturday...

Postby Cynthia Wenslow » Mon Nov 13, 2006 3:12 pm

Scott, how many people are you expecting? That will certainly change what is practical... or not.
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Re: Advice needed for a dinner party this Saturday...

Postby Scott Hinson » Mon Nov 13, 2006 4:46 pm

Cynthia Wenslow wrote:Scott, how many people are you expecting? That will certainly change what is practical... or not.


A total of 8...My wife and I, a couple who has been friends since college..and my co-workers and their guests...

We can abuse...use..I meant to say use...our friends to help out in the kitchen...we help each other on parties on a regular basis.

Scott
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Re: Advice needed for a dinner party this Saturday...

Postby Larry Greenly » Mon Nov 13, 2006 5:42 pm

Concerning the pizzas: I'd store just the dough unrolled in a plastic bag in the fridge and keep already shredded or crumbled cheese separate. If there's any yeast in the dough, rolled out pizzas would puff up incredibly in 48 hours. And there's always the chance that something will happen to screw up the pizzas if there's cheese already on them, and you won't be able to roll them out again or otherwise repair them. (I've kept pizza dough in the fridge for several days without any problems.)

Early in the big day, get out the dough and let it warm up. You should be able to roll out a bunch of mini-pizzas in no time 20-30 minutes before baking.

I make something similar called sficiones (recipe on request). Roll out the dough, put on the tomatoes, sprinkle the cheese and I would suggest some sliced black olives and a drizzle of olive oil on each one before they go in the oven. They'll be great.
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Re: Advice needed for a dinner party this Saturday...

Postby Cynthia Wenslow » Mon Nov 13, 2006 5:43 pm

Oh, 8 is quite manageable.

What kind of wines are you tasting? I'd take that into consideration for the menu (I'm assuming you already have, I'm just curious!).

Scott Hinson wrote:Misto Plate


Excellent.

Mini Pizza’s


I think I'd skip these as too last minute labor-intensive. Unless you employ everyone to help in the kitchen with these and then it could be quite fun.

Italian Beef Kabobs


Yes, you can carmelize onions ahead of time. And I don't see why you couldn't do the balsamic reduction ahead too.

Crème Brulee


One of my fave desserts of all time, especially with really intense vanilla. However, see above. Unless you can make the finishing into a group event, I'd probably skip these.

I love all Ian's suggestions for tapas-like food. We had dinner last night at El Farol (http://www.elfarolsf.com) before a concert. All delicious. Check out their tapas menu for ideas: http://elfarolsf.easycgi.com/index.asp?ID=17. They suggest that to make a meal of it, there need to be 3 good sized selections per person.... these are generally bread plate sized there.

Plus dessert. One can never have too many desserts. :)
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Re: Advice needed for a dinner party this Saturday...

Postby Steven Noess » Mon Nov 13, 2006 5:52 pm

Here's an easy one you can do the night before:

Herb-marinated Manchego:

combine 2 cups olive oil in a pan with 4-6 sprigs each of thyme and rosemary and one or two dried red chiles, quartered. Heat over medium heat for a few minutes until hot.

When this cools, pour everything over manchego cubes (one pound) in a bowl. Make sure the cubes are completely covered. Cover and refrigerate until shortly before the party (remove from refrigerator to allow it to come back to room temperature for the party).

My wife frequently makes this, and she always uses a little less rosemary than thyme so it doesn't overpower the dish. We buy the large wedges of manchego at Costco to make it more economical.

One cautionary note, though: inevitably, there will be a little oil dribble as guests transfer from platter to plate, so plan accordingly by either placing the serving platter on a towel or make sure whatever surface it's on won't be damaged by the oil.
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Re: Advice needed for a dinner party this Saturday...

Postby Scott Hinson » Mon Nov 13, 2006 8:42 pm

What kind of wines are you tasting? I'd take that into consideration for the menu (I'm assuming you already have, I'm just curious!).


The wines are being kept secret from each other...so...no clue! I know I'm offering up an Inama Soave Classico and either a Barolo or Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, I haven't decided which yet, or which one.

I think I'd skip these as too last minute labor-intensive. Unless you employ everyone to help in the kitchen with these and then it could be quite fun.


You are probably right....I have a three cheese mac and cheese made with mozarella, fontina and Parmigiano-Reggiano that is excellent. I could put it into small gratins after cooking for a little more style....

One of my fave desserts of all time, especially with really intense vanilla. However, see above. Unless you can make the finishing into a group event, I'd probably skip these.


Ohh..this will definately be a group finishing event. I have three blow torches...and a desire to use them!

Although with all the wine...maybe fire and bad coordination is a bad idea... :shock:

Scott

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Re: Advice needed for a dinner party this Saturday...

Postby Scott Hinson » Mon Nov 13, 2006 8:48 pm

Herb-marinated Manchego:


I had not heard of this cheese before....I'll have to go look it up...it sounds like an excellent recipe.

Scott
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Re: Advice needed for a dinner party this Saturday...

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Tue Nov 14, 2006 1:37 am

One thought on the creme brulee. If you can supply a dessert wine to serve with it, then throw some of that in to flavor the custard. This works extremely well with something like an Aussie muscat or Rutherglen tokay. OTOH, if someone else is supplying the dessert wine, you may run a risk of having one that doesn't go well with the creme brulee. (But then, you could always serve the wine seperately - I don't know too many people who don't like creme brulee!)


Mike

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Re: Advice needed for a dinner party this Saturday...

Postby Steven Noess » Tue Nov 14, 2006 2:23 am

I had not heard of this cheese before....I'll have to go look it up...it sounds like an excellent recipe.


I'd definitely recommend looking into it. It's probably the most well-known cheese from Spain, so certainly an appropriate--if not quintessential--Tapas.
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Re: Advice needed for a dinner party this Saturday...

Postby Scott Hinson » Wed Nov 15, 2006 1:27 pm

Okay, update to the menue...

I experimented with the mini-pizzas last night...and I don't think that it is too much work...but I do think it's too dang rich... With the creme brulee and misto plate we will be dary product overloaded...

So...

Misto Plate
Roasted Potatoes.
Green Beans with Pancetta and a chicken stock based supreme sauce.
Steak Kabobs.
Creme Sauce


The green beans I've done before for a crowd...I've blanched them up to an hour before the dinner, held the sauce in a thermos and kept a wok on smoking high heat starting about 10 minutes before I need to serve. The pancetta has been cooked probably on Thursday....and it's ready to go. A little oil in the pan, sear the green beans with reserved chicken stock...toss with sauce and pancetta...good to go. A few minutes tops...

The roasted potatoes can be held in the oven...
Misto plate is ready to go...

And the kabobs go on the grill about 20 minutes before guests arrive, get pulled off at rare and get held in the warming drawer....


So...the only real prep during the event will be the green beans.


OH...and one of the wines have become known to me...

Rosemount Estate Balmoral Syrah 2001
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Re: Advice needed for a dinner party this Saturday...

Postby Cynthia Wenslow » Wed Nov 15, 2006 1:44 pm

It all sounds good, Scott. Have a great time!
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Re: Advice needed for a dinner party this Saturday...

Postby Ian Sutton » Wed Nov 15, 2006 2:04 pm

sounds great, especially those green beans & pancetta!
Have fun
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