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Dinner party disaster stories - and how did it end?

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I'm doing a dinner party with about 15 guests mostly family/friends this coming weekend. 


Really hoping things go well. 


The last one I did on New Year Eve was almost a disaster. It was supposed to be a pizza party (NYE drinking so pizza good for that I thought). I bought a baking steel and fermented by dough just right. I made past pizzas before often enough on my little home stove so recipes were tested. 


When it was about 6pm, I started making my pizzas and stretching the dough balls into circles. 


 But the problem was the pizza dough wouldn't stretch without snapping and breaking - like it was a different dough. I tried repeatedly and likely overworked the dough and started to panic because I have like 15 people waiting for an exciting meal, hungry and with high expectations. 


I was at a family/friends place and I used a different flour - Gold Medal and not my usual King Arthur. I realized that it was bleached and with a lower protein content and that the lower protein meant that I would have weakened gluten strands that will break when stretched - aaarggghhh!!! 


I didn't know what to do and people saw my panic and recommended I drink some booze which I did so in huge amounts. 


I got drunk and calmed down and needed to stretch it differently. I remembered a technique I saw by Ken Forkish on youtube and you just let the dough hang on stretch on its own gravity - it worked somewhat and I had squares. 


Next I put it in the stove. My normal recipe method was to bake at 500 for ~4 min. Next put sauce and cheese and then broil for 3 min. 


But this was not my usual stove and gas so when I switched from bake to broil the gas broiler won't turn on. When it finally came on 15 min later, my pizza was too high and the parchment paper caught fire. 


I lowered the pizza steel. 


I tried my next pizza. Bake at 500 then switch to broil. Again the broiler won't come on and it took another 15 min or so.  I realized that I could only choose top heat or bottom heat bc once the broiler is off, it won't come back on. 


I chose top heat and hoped for the best. 


The pizzas came out okay that night. People genuinely raved about it because the rich fermented flavor of the dough was so pleasing and new to them (since they only had store bought pizza before). 


So the night went well through improvisation. 


I'm doing another one (a fancier 5 course meal)  and just kinda worried. But it would be interesting to hear if you had similar things happen and how did it end? 

Edited by Smithy Adjusted title (punctuation) (log)
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Luckily this only happens to me in very vivid dreams!  Turkey on a holiday with a big group has been an issue twice. Once the oven gave up the ghost about half an hour in. I suggested the BBQ but NO - the others insisted on driving to a guest's house several miles away and using their ovens. Took forever. BUT since everyone was aware we were sble to laugh about it. Luckily chips and dip toned down the hunger pangs. I tried to serve the salad first (gussied up) but the traditionalists couldn't deal with the thought.... The second was using a new oven for the turkey.  After the first hour I went outside to pick citrus and expected to be greeted by lovely aromas when I came back in BUT my sister who can't leave well enough alone had checked the beast several times by opening oven door and not noticing that the display panel was prompting "push start to continue".  I suggested we try convection thinking it would speed things up and the meal was only an hour late.....  Good luck!

Edited by heidih (log)
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If there's a lesson to be learned, and I follow this advice always, after making a dessert cake for a dinner party that even the birds wouldn't eat.


Never make something for a first time that you're going to serve at a dinner that first time!


And when cooking at someone else's home, try to make a preliminary visit to check on the equipment.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"


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I once threw a New Year's Day jam for 10 people that ended up with a day-of situation involving me:

  1. shopping for part of the meal;
  2. cleaning the greens;
  3. cooking the entire meal (including the black eyed peas AND the smoked neckbone stock for the greens);
  4. cleaning the disaster that was the house; and
  5. managing a hangover from New Year's Eve that somehow took me by surprise and which was enhanced by sleep deprivation, since I had to rise earlier than desired in order to deal with the aforementioned aspects.  

All in time for the actual dinner.


I have never been in so much food-based pain in my life.  I don't know WHAT I was thinking; the point when things went awry was when I decided to go out the night before, instead of staying home and maybe, you know, doing the cleaning? Or, perhaps, finishing the shopping?  


The only thing that I did in advance was season the chicken for frying and the beef filet for roasting.   


I kept adjusting the menu to account for the fact that I couldn't get it all cooked.  And, sigh, there was no salad whatsoever.  I just couldn't manage to clean the lettuce.  


The food to the guests was very good-tasting, although at some point the elder on site recognized that something was, uh, wrong, and she stopped being a guest and just started cooking. 


Which humiliated me, since I was kind of aiming to take care of her, for once.  


Everybody did have fun, and the two-year old kept demanding more chicken, which I took as approval.    


But y'all, it was awful.  I do not recommend this.

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