4 Recipes for a Tasty Dinner Party
Dinner Party Ideas
My friend Jane and her husband Dan invited me and Rich, and our other no-kids-yet couple friends Kelly and Anthony over for a dinner party on Saturday night. It all started with Anthony—he and Kelly still had a few bottles of wine left over from their trip to Napa last year, and he suggested we all get together and drink them while they were at their peak. Then Jane decided she'd host—and even cook. I couldn't believe it. I wondered what she'd make. A true dinner party! So exciting.
I have to say, her planning was brilliant. She decided to go with a French theme (this being a wine party after all): cheese and crackers to start (she asked me to bring those), coq au vin over noodles for the main course—with crusty bread on the side, and for dessert a chocolate souffle! It sounded simple and complex all at once, but most of all it sounded delicious.
Rich and I selected four cheeses: a goat gouda (because you always need a goat cheese on a cheese plate, and the idea of goat gouda was too intriguing to pass up), a French brie (another no-brainer for us, because it's so delicious), manchego (for a change of pace—and country), and stilton with cranberries, just to be seasonal. Jane served them with grapes, water crackers, and sliced baguette. Delicious! The brie was the first to go, everyone loved the goat gouda, and the stilton with cranberries was a slightly sweet favorite too.
The coq au vin was a show-stopper. Jane simmered it until it chicken nearly fell off the bone—and though she was sad that it didn't resemble the photo in her Williams-Sonoma cookbook (where you really saw a chicken breast or thigh in its entirety), I can tell you that it couldn't have been more delicious. She swears the secret was the flambe—I think she just enjoyed the novelty of setting her entree on fire! Either way, we all cleaned our plates.
But luckily we left room for dessert! Jane had prepped the souffle ingredients before we arrived, so that she only got up from the table to whip the contents and pour them into her buttered and sugared souffle dish. Then she put it in the oven—but because she had converted the chocolate souffle recipe to make it in one large souffle dish, rather than individual ramekins, she wasn't quite sure how long to bake it for. So I consulted. We agreed to keep it on the recommended temperature, but after the intial 20-minute timer went off, we checked it every 5-7 minutes for doneness. It rose, then it cracked gently, then it stopped jiggling like unset pudding when we opened the oven door. That's when she removed it—and it was perfect and delicious!
What I really loved about Jane's plan was that though she had served a tasty, fancy dinner, the main course and dessert recipes were ones that could be mostly prepared ahead of time, which gave her time to gather round the kitchen island and nosh cheese with the rest of us while Anthony described the wines we were about to taste. Also, the coq au vin, which had shallots and mushrooms in it, was a one-dish meal, especially when served over egg noodles. She wasn't juggling timers while she tried to cook the veggies to coordinate with the rice to get done at the same time as the roast, you know? Really smart thinking.
Anyway, as we left that night, bellies full and heads a little swimmy from the wine (except our designated drivers, of course), I promised I'd host the next dinner party.
Video: How to Host an Unforgettable Dinner Party
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