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Never try a new recipe for guests?


Suzanne F
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If I could make this a poll, I would, but since I can't I'll just throw out the question:

Do you sometimes make a brand-new, untested (by you) recipe when you're cooking for guests, or do you always stick with the tried-and-true?

All the conventional wisdom says do the latter. But I know I will try new dishes I've never made before. What about you? And how has it worked out?

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I have, on occasion, made new recipes for guests but with much trepidation. I then mix the new ones with my older, tried-and-true reliably proven recipes ...

On the whole, it is a matter of convenience to do this and it has worked out well .. should the new dish turn out to be a disaster, I can fall back on the better dishes to carry off the meal!

Edited by Gifted Gourmet (log)

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I think a nice dinner with good friends is a fine time to boldly go where no Busboy has gone before. Most recipes rely on familiar techniques and you generally have a pretty good idea what the stuff is going to taste like. Nine times out of ten, even if you're dead set on cooking, say, a croquembouche for dessert, you're probably also in the mood for something familiar for the entree or the appetizer anyway. Why take wing, Icarus-like? You can always double up on the cheese course if the lobster souffle crashes and burns.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I have zero compunction about trying new recipes on anyone, anywhere. Never had a major disaster. Have had some great success. Best was when I threw a birthday dinner for the chef under whom I was working. Dinner for 8, 4 of them French – 3 chefs and a Maitre d'...The entire menu was first-timers for me. Robuchon's warm scallops with beurre blanc and caviar as first course. Main was my own invention – roast rack of lamb with lamb jus & port reduction, parsnip purée, deep-fried fennel rings, steamed baby asparagus. Dessert was my first go at a St. Honoré (the birthday boy's favorite dessert). It was all spectacular. That's the last time I ever got uptight about cooking for guests.

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For me, it has always depended entirely upon whom I am inviting, and how many of them. For large parties -- 20 or more -- no way am I going to be in the kitchen fiddling around with something I can't count on, trying to double or triple a recipe that I've never even made one time.

For smaller dinners with close friends, yeah, sure. That's fun. And I usually announce it when I'm extending the invitations: "I've found this great new recipe I'm dying to try!" Usually the recipe works. Very rarely it turns out to be not particularly good, but never once has the thing been inedible.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I always try new recipes on guests/family. I'm always learning and trying new things (in my case, until a couple years ago everything was new), and I love sharing them with people. I've never had it completely blow up in my face. Sometimes I end up in the kitchen more and for longer than I'd planned.

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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I definitely serve guests never-before-tried dishes. Often guests are my excuse to try something different becuase my youngsters usually insist on the tried and true.

I generally put a little more effort into prep and results have never disappointed.

I am looking forward to our family reunion bbq this summer--usually have a theme eg southern, cajun, Greek etc. Thinking going Poruguese--grilled chicken piri-piri style, grilled fish/shellfish. These are new to me, although obviously grilling isn't.

If you have the ingredients, technique and equipment everything is possible.

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I regularly serve things that I have never done before. These things usually involve techniques that I am completely comfortable with, however. Unless I am cooking for a really large group, I almost never have a menu in mind before 3 or 4 hours before service. I go to the market, buy a few proteins, then start thinking about how they might become a whole meal. I don't do pastry though -- that gets left to MrsB.

Edited by MichaelB (log)
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I think the "rule" depends on circumstances. I live alone, I'm an experienced home cook, and it's just not practical to do a trial run on many of the dishes intended for 6-8 people. Many times, I'll make something from what looks good at the market that day. When I serve a new dish to family or old friends, I'll even ask whether it should remain in the repetoire and know I'll get honest answers.

If you're an experienced cook working with mostly familiar ingredients and techniques, I see no danger. Just read the recipe through several times before hand, playing it out in your mind. (I have found errors in couple recipes that way.) It's also helpful to check out other recipes for the same dish to explore variations on the concept. Those of us who've cooked for may often actually only use ideas from several recipes rather than follow a particular one.

More complex dishes (especially desserts) are often composed of subrecipes that are combined, so it is easy to be sure of the success of the individual elements well before finishing the dish.

The exception for me is when I try something with an unfamiliar technique. For example, I've never made anything using tempered chocolate. Were I to try a dessert that requires it, I WOULD try the technique ahead of time!

Edited by Mottmott (log)

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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Home cooking is always about "new" recipes,ideas and presentation,of course

that doesn't mean every time.My friends will make requests for favorites.

In my restaurant I like to have all elements of the dish worked out beforehand,

this leaves little room for error or experimentation on the part of the staff.

The regulars over the years will want that special treatment and want something

made "just for them" by me that isn't on the menu,and I always oblige.

A few times a year like Valentines Day and New Years Eve I always turnout

a completely new menu just for that occation,a one day gig.This does create

a certain amount of stress for me and my staff because I worry that I might be

overworking one station or other logistics in the kitchen that can pop up,

and that can be exceedingly difficult to fix on the fly,so to speak.

Following and serving a familar recipe is a safe bet for sure,but the alternative

is much more fun......... :biggrin: IMO

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Blovie and I have had numerous arguments over the years about this exact topic. He doesn't think it's wise to experiment when guest are coming over, and I think it's fine. So, we've come to a compromise. I experiment only when our closest friends come over. Fortunately, I've never had a the type of disaster where the food was inedible. But Blovie doesn't like suprises when we entertain.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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It depends on the guests. If we are entertaining clients, absolutely not. I can't afford to have a disaster during one of those events :biggrin: However, we have close friends who come for dinner a lot. They quite like being my guinea pig so I try out lots of stuff on them.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Since beginner's luck is what I have in spades, I'm never afraid to try a new recipe out on company. I'm pretty good at telling if the ingredients will work together, and I know better than to bat out of my league. I haven't rolled a gutterball yet.

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More often than not do I try out a new dish on guests. Even if it's just tweaking an old one a bit. In fact, some of my friends/family have come to expect it. No disasters for a number of years now, but back when I was learning.....oh yeah! :raz:

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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For me, guests = chance for experimentation, and the more the better. I find that attitude and presentation (together with basic cooking wherewithal and a few quick fix-it-up tricks) go a long way in creating a successful experience.

Knowledge is good.

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i have a little dining club with 2 other couples and a guest couple. i always do something never tried unless i am on a re-do (screwed up the first time). i always llike to get opinion and other ideas from the other couples. this month we are doing all duck. i am ordering my first whole foie gras, making confit and a sliced crispy breast. its going to be very rich and i have not yet come up with any sides , any ideas???

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I have found that a new recipe always turns out great. Because you're concentrating on it, aware of the process. It's the second time that some kind of mishap happens, because you're basking in the glow of it once being a breeze. After the 5th time, no problem, easy. But bewteen 2 and 5, warning. Do this at home, alone.

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I have found that a new recipe always turns out great. Because you're concentrating on it, aware of the process. It's the second time that some kind of mishap happens, because you're basking in the glow of it once being a breeze. After the 5th time, no problem, easy. But bewteen 2 and 5, warning. Do this at home, alone.

I totally agree with this! My biggest failures have always been recipes that I've made before and thought I could do again- easily! Noooooo- And it always happens when I'm making it for my mom or my sister, both, amazing cooks.

Melissa

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My mom goes to a lot of potlucks and likes to try out new recipes for them. The people who attend the potluck are her blissfully ignorant guinea pigs.

I, on the other hand, can't imagine the scenario where I would serve an untested recipe to guests in my home. I'll make it for myself, I'll make it for my immediate family, but guests won't eat it until I know the recipe is edible.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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I get together with my friend who likes to cook and we do experimental dinners. The whole point is to try new stuff and try techniques we haven't before, so there's always going to be mistakes or disasters or disappointments. We raz each other if we haven't taken any risks. Then if something is good I can venture to make it at a true dinner. But what others have said is true, don't assume because something came out good the first time, that it will the next. I guess it's because you get overly confident or complacent and the gods have to strike you down!

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I do it all the time, but for guests who are close friends and/or family. This is because my fiance is very picky (only eats boneless chicken, beef, and pork), and I have no one to serve "exotic" food except my friends and family.

-- Jason

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I once made a veal roast from Gourmet Magazine, from about a 1987 issue, for friends who came over for dinner. I usually never have difficulty with recipes...I know how to follow directions...but boy was this a disaster! We all sat around the table and simultaneously said, "this is really bad." It was a great laugh, and one we remember still 15+ years later.

And no, that hasn't stopped me from using guests as guinea pigs...I've just become better at deciphering recipes.

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I almost always make something I've never tried before to serve to guests. I rarely make the same thing twice because I'm always trying to justify all my magazines, cookbooks and the time I spend on cooking sites.

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I try new recipes on most guests for one very practical reason: there are only two of us, and most recipes make enough for 6-8. I need help finishing it off! If it's really good, I'll make it again for us and not mind the leftovers.

Marcia.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

eGullet foodblog

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