Sunday, 12 April 2009

A Successful Dinner Party....

On Saturday night I gave a dinner party for myself and five guests. I generally find cooking three courses for six diners takes me right up to my comfortable stress threshold... beyond that we're into uncharted territory, and it's a good bet it'll involve temper tantrums a five year old would be proud of, and language that would make Gordon Ramsay blush.

I was determined that the evening would go without a hitch and without *much* swearing, so I plotted, planned and prepared as best I could in advance, hopefully avoiding the situation where I'd be in the kitchen for long stretches at a time, leaving my guests unattended to get into my drinks cabinet, and generally misbehave.
To this end, and thinking I'd go with a French Bistro theme - I decided to cook the following.....

Starter - Petatou.
I cooked these last week (and provided the recipe in the comments section
here). Potatoes, Thyme, Olives and Goats Cheese....honestly, what's not to like?

Main - Boeuf Bourguignon.
A classic French bistro dish. I've never cooked it before, and chose it because it's a perfect dinner party recipe, tasting better cooked a day in advance to give the flavours time to come out and then re-heated on the night. I decided to serve this with green beans, Mustard and Tarragon Mash and Crusty Bread for mopping up.

Dessert - Tarte Tatin.
I've made this a few times before, and it's always a winner - I also made some creme anglaise to serve with it.

I made the Bouef Bourguignon the night before, and the recipe is easy enough - although skimming off the impurities and oil that collected on the top during the two hour simmer was a pretty labour intensive job. All this needed was re-heating.
I made the Tarte Tatin in the afternoon, giving it a couple of hours to cool down and be just warm when served.

When the doorbell rang, I'd already made the creme anglaise, peeled the potatoes for the mash and started making the Petatou. These Starters take a bit of cooking, and my friends stayed out in the kitchen chatting whilst I scurried around in the background cooking and drinking....a lot.

Finally, the starters were brought from the kitchen, my guests were seated (and just finishing their third bottle of plonk), and everyone tucked in. All that really needs to be said is that the plates were cleared entirely...which pleased me no end.
I always find it kind of disheartening when someone doesn't like what you've cooked. But, bravely, I try not to show it....the classic 'outside I'm smiling, but inside I'm crying' (and inwardly damning your eyes situation).
Whilst we were tucking into the starters, I was re-heating the Bouef Bourguignon and boiling my spuds (oooer) for the mustard and Tarragon mash.
Timing wise, it was perfect - around fifteen minutes after clearing their plates, I was serving the main course. This tasted better than I thought it would. Obviously, I'd tasted it beforehand, but the overnight stay in the fridge had worked it's magic and it tasted much better. Once again.....cleared plates all around - including the mound of mash.
Finally, I served the Tarte Tatin with the Creme Anglaise - three out of three, they ate the lot...even polishing off the remnants of the custard. (I think you'll agree, homemade 'proper custard' tastes amazing, so who can blame them, not me....I'd have eaten it from the jug if it wasn't considered uncouth).
So - we retired to the living room for a good middle aged Binge-drinking session, drinking more Wine, Champagne and polishing off my bottle of Remy Martin XO. My friends left at 2am, merry and not a little unsteady on their feet.
As for myself, I retired to bed a contented man.
Three courses (and accompaniments) for six, all out in good time, all hot, I didn't spend ages in the kitchen, no swearing and tantrums (much) and last but not least - they ate the lot!
So, there you have it - my most successful dinner party yet.


Springtime said...

Sounds like a great evening! The food looks like it was wonderful!

How do you get the plates to balance like that (the ones with the Bouef Bourguignon)?!

Dan said...

Hi Springtime - Thanks!
As for the plate balancing - hahaha I just ran out of room plating up on the worktop - No magic involved, although it doesnt look it, there's enough of the plates (just) on the worktop to stop them falling off. I didn't realise they looked so precarious until you pointed it out.

Foodie said...

Perfect dinner menu and lucky you. I don't think I have six friends with the same dietary requirements! Vegan, straight edge, lactose intolerant, allergic to water, not eating anything yellow that month. Grrr.

The Ample Cook said...

Well done you! All looks perfect Dan. Very well planned too. I bet they thoroughly enjoyed it.

Dan said...

Foodie - Thanks, but not so lucky I'm afraid. I had to submit a full menu for approval to two of my female mussels, no Pork, no Lamb....that's off the top of my head - I'm sure there were other dietary requirements LOL. The Blokes? they're not fussy, they'll eat more or less anything.

Jan - Thanks!

Alex said...

Wow, well done! I'd never be able to cope with five guests - but I could def cope with being a guest myself, if tarte tatin is on the menu!

Merlotti said...

Sounds perfect - well planned and very orgnaised! Food looks great too - well done!

Helen said...

Congratulations on your successful dinner party!! It can be stressful can't it but I find always keeping things simple is the way to go and a one pot wonder like your beef doesn't hurt either. Your tatin looks delish too by the way. NOM.

Dan said...

Alex, Merlotti, Helen - thanks!
To be honest, I only wrote this up because I love giving dinner parties - but normally end up feeling less than satisfied with either the food, or how long it takes to prepare. For once, it seemed to go perfectly! Hopefully, it's experience rather than luck!
By the way - I had to look up NOM.....hilarious!

Food Urchin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Food Urchin said...

Although never had Petatou before, your other dishes are complete faves of mine, well done, all looks delicious. Just how much of a hangover did you have in the morning??? ; )

(deleted the first comment due to my crap spilling, sorry spelling)

Dan said...

Food Urchin - Thanks.
Suprisingly, not as much of a hangover as I should have had. Dodged a bullet there it seems!

Ollie said...

The bourguignon looks fantastic - really well done. So glad it all went well. Couldn't agree more about real custard: there's nothing like it!

waxwonderful said...

Loving the empty bottles at the end. Must have been a great evening!