Thursday, March 29, 2012

Entertaining - Hosting a French Inspired Dinner Party

This is the first post in a new series of blog posts to suggest ideas that would make excellent and easy parties!  I love to host dinner parties with friends be it more formal (for birthdays/engagements) or more casual for brunch.  I also LOVE to tailgate so look for a tailgate post later this year.  The recipes are from this blog and they are tried and true.

This post is about hosting a classic Saturday night French dinner party.  My mother in law taught me to really enjoy the process of cooking French food and I would like to share that with you here.  On a scale of 1 to 10, this meal would be a 4.5.  There are some easy but impressive appetizer recipes which pair nicely with dinner and dessert.  As Julia Child used to say, "Bon Appetite!"

Tips for Success

- Preselect your serving dishes and lay them out so they are ready when the food is finished cooking
- Set the table early (even the day before if you have time)
- Use a seasonal adornment for the table, such as a squash in winter or bowl of lemons in the summer
- If serving more than one drink, set up a bar area where guests can help themselves to their favorite beverages (even sparking water)
- Cloth napkins are super impressive (and environmentally friendly!)
- Sit back and enjoy your hard work because it is mostly done before your guests arrive and you can enjoy your time!

The Menu

Appetizer option #1 - Beet and Goat Cheese Tartlets
Appetizer option #2 - Gougere Cheese Puff
Sparkling Wine - Jaume Serra Cristalino Rose  (which incidentally is not French, but keep it our secret!)

Salad - Classic French Salad with Dijon Lemon vinaigrette (see below)
Bread - Anderson Homemade Bread

Dessert option #1 - Strawberries and Creme Fraiche
Dessert option #2 - Any Berry Crumble

Classic French Salad with Dijon Lemon Vinaigrette

The salad is very simple.  Find the best and most fresh greens you can (I like a mix of arugula and spinach with some frisee).  Wash and dry thoroughly and put in a nice salad bowl.  One or two bunches of each green is generally enough for four people but use your judgment here.

The salad dressing is delicious and simple.  Ingredients are 1 lemon juiced, 2 tablespoons dijon mustard and 3 tablespoons olive oil.  Combine all in a tupperware with a tight lid and shake until mixed well.  Taste and add a bit more olive oil if the lemon or dijon flavor is too strong.  Transfer to your normal container for serving dressing.  You can even pre-dress the salad but make sure to do this just before serving.

One of my favorite dishes for serving salad is this Nambe Butterfly Bowl .  It is worth the investment because you can serve hot food in it as well.  Just make sure not to use metal utensils with the bowl as it will scratch it.

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