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My Entertaining Season Begins


Marlene
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It's high. Keep in mind thats for china, glasses, coffee urns, chafing dishes etc as well as staff and food and our favourite canadian taxes and built in gratuity.

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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Does it include alcohol? Or just the nonalcoholic beverages? It seems a lot less high to me if you're getting liquor or at least beer&wine for that amount.

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no alcohol. Just non alchoholic. And yes, it is high, and I suspect we are going with caterer number #2.

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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I would lean towards caterer #2, due to the cost and the staff issue you had with caterer #1, especially after you had words with caterer #1. And with caterer #2, I suppose the staffing won't be an issue.

I presume caterer #3 is not an option (i.e., you). Half the cost, twice the insanity, ehh?

BTW, does eGullet have a catering service yet? Never mind ... :rolleyes:

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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This is the 8th year we've held this party. For the first 4 years I did it all myself. I started a weekin advance and on the night of, I found that I was so busy serving, heating etc, that I didn't have time to talk to my guests and being a good corporate wife, apparently I was supposed to. :blink:

I told my husband he could have a cook or a wife at these things, not both. We've used a caterer ever since. :biggrin:

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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Part of my season of food, (as I like to think of it), involves attending a number of events as well as hosting them. We kicked off the season last night by attending a charity ball for our local hospital. This is an event we must attend as Don sits on the board for the hospital. The event begins with cocktails and nibbles, followed by dinner and dancing and both a silent and a live auction. I did not take pictures last night but the menu was as follows:

Starter:

Tiger shrimps and sea scallops on a bed of Thai noodles topped with a light curry cream sauce

Salad:

Baby spinach salad with lemon vinagrette dressing and garnished with crisp fresh apple slices and Asiago cheese

Dinner:

Prime Rib with baby red potatoes accompanied by grilled red and yellow peppers, zucchini and squash.

Dessert:

White chocolate mousse drizzled with mango and raspberry coulis.

Wines served included a Sauvignon Blanc "Triomphe" 2004, Southbrook Winery (Niagara, ON and a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2002, Mount Oakden, Clare Valley, Australia.

The bidding continues on the silent auction and as dessert is served, the live auction begins. One of the notable items up for bid in the live auction was a doctor-hosted Roving Dinner. The dinner is hosted by three separate doctors and their wives.

The lucky winner and 5 friends are chauffered from house to house in a stretch limo. Included in the dinner are a variety of vintage wines from the doctor's cellars.

Winning bid? $14,000. :blink: (no, it wasn't me)

We were successful however in a few of the silent auction items. Food related included this very cute LCBO Christmas tree.:

gallery_6080_2026_17758.jpg

Tied to the branches are various mini bottles of booze, stockings, (each holding an LCBO gift card) and shooter glasses, swizzle sticks and more. The tree even has miniature lights.

gallery_6080_2026_29981.jpg

And this really nice Martini basket set:

gallery_6080_2026_42873.jpg

Included in this lovely basket are 2 martini glasses, olives, Grey Goose Vodka, crackers, brie, camembert, red pepper jelly, coasters, antipasta and 2 solid silver olive picks. All set out in a walnut serving tray.

gallery_6080_2026_28240.jpg

We haven't decided whether we are going to keep these for ourselves or give them as gifts this year. :biggrin:

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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Marlene, I can understand that you would think of giving these as gifts. Purely in the interest of helping you out, and not making you decide who to give them to, I will do you the imense favour of agreeing right now to be the recipient of said gifts. Please note, I do this with the sole intent of relieving you of the onerous resposibility of finding appropriate recipients. Purely selfless, I assure you.

Seriously, I have to commend you on the items you bid on, and won. You have great taste, girl. And the dinner, well, trust me, it sounds 100 times better than what we were "served" last evening!! Hope the prime rib wasn't overcooked, we've all seen the gorgeous red meat that comes out of your kitchen.

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

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

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Jake, your selflessness is duly noted. :biggrin:

Given the fact that this was a banquet type setting and there were several hundred people there, the food was actually pretty decent. No, (with all due modesty) I wouldn't say the prime rib was quite as good as mine but it wasn't overdone. :biggrin:

We didn't get to partake of too many of the nibbles being passed around as we were involved in a bunch of official duties, but there were cocktail meatballs, breaded shrimps, smoked salmon, mushrooms in puff pastry, and a few other things. Generally, I'd say they were pretty ordinary. Tasty, but nothing that would blow you away.

I can sometimes get ideas for my events from attending these things, but mostly I rely on my cookbooks and of course suggestions and tips from eG.

One of the neat things about last night was the martini bar. You could get just about any kind of variation on the "tini" and when they poured it, they put the glass at the bottom of an ice sculpture and poured the contents of the shaker through the sculpture and into the glass.

I've got a dinner party for 8 to do this coming weekend. Since I aquired Martha's Hors d'Oeuvres handbook, there are several nibble type things I'd like to try out for the cocktail portion of the evening. And I'm tempted to deviate from my usual prime rib and try the short rib recipe I made a couple of weeks ago, adapted from Bon Appetit Short ribs with port and honey.

The following weekend is our big party, (yes, we've chosen caterer #2). I guess I shouldn't mention that as of yesterday, my house is now fully decorated for Christmas? :rolleyes:

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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Short ribs sound yummy. I still find very few people are cooking them so it might be a nice surprise for some of your guests too.

Don't even mention the Christmas decorations or I will send my doggies over to romp through your house at full speed and then see how decorated it is! :raz:

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

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

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My cats would eat your dogs for lunch :raz: I have to have the decorations up in time for the party and since we have company this weekend, we had to get it done yesterday. I promise not to turn them on though until the night of the party.

I know Don really liked those short ribs and the ribs I got from Whole Foods are spectacular. So maybe:

French Onion soup (I'm going to start an onion confit tonight or tomorrow)

Braised Short ribs with what? Rice Pilaf maybe?

Tossed salad

Are the ribs and the soup too much? Maybe just a salad and a rice Pilaf?

I'm open for suggestions for dessert. I'd like something light but tasty. I always serve a cheese course after the meal as well.

I'll list proposed nibbles in a bit.

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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I guess I shouldn't mention that as of yesterday, my house is now fully decorated for Christmas? :rolleyes:

No, you shouldn't!

I'm jealous! We had a strict no-Christmas-music-or-decorations-before-Thanksgiving policy in my house, and I've definitely observed it in the five years since. HOWEVER, I went to Saks twice last week (once to shop and once to pick up the spoils - they held it and rang it up a day later on double points day - SCORE!), and between Tuesday and Thursday, half of the Christmas decorations had gone up. Yup. Which is why I figured listening to George Winston's "December" while cooking this weekend was a minor transgression (Sorry, Mom! :shock:).

How many parties do you typically throw during the November-December-January season, Marlene?

Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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See that's the advantage to having Canadian Thanksgiving. Anything christmasy is fair game after Oct 10th, although my rule is right after Halloween.

From mid October to January first, we average one dinner party at home per weekend and one event outside that we have to attend. It's not unusual for us to attend a formal night on Friday and host a dinner on Saturday. Or attend a formal event on Sat and host dinner on Sunday. By the time December comes, that also includes at least one dinner out during the week with guests. After the first of January, things start to slow down as it's full audit season and I become an audit widow. :biggrin:

Most of our dinner parties are small usually from 4-8 people with the exception of our upcoming seasonal celebration, which gets catered, and Christmas Eve and New Year's eve, both of which are usually an open house here for neighbours and friends and I usually make the nibbles for those myself. Some of our dinner parties are for close friends and others for various clients and/or partners at Don's firm. Oh and I'm going to throw in a cocktail party for my School council members this year as well. I have been chair or vice chair of this council for almost 10 years and this is my last year, (well, as long as Ryan passes it will be. :rolleyes: ) so I'll be looking for nibbles to do for that as well. That will be in the first week of December.

We do get a one week break this year as we are cruising at the end of Nov to celebrate both Don and Ryan's birthday, which fall on the same day and both are milestone birthdays this year.

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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What about polenta with the short ribs. I love polenta and short ribs, and it's really easy to make.

I would likely go with a lighter soup or a composed salad. Maybe a mushroom (broth vs. cream) soup?

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

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

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Short ribs with either spaetzle or homemade egg noodles. Either can be made ahead, spaetzle cooked or noodles uncooked. For starch with veg, combine spaetzle with sauteed cherry tomatoes and snow or sugar snap peas; add shredded fresh spinach to the noodles just before draining.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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What about polenta with the short ribs.  I love polenta and short ribs, and it's really easy to make.

I would likely go with a lighter soup or a composed salad.  Maybe a mushroom (broth vs. cream) soup?

I don't think I've ever made polenta. And sorry, no mushrooms!

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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In addition to some suggestions for Saturday night's dinner, I'd be very interested in suggestions for nibbles that can be made ahead and frozen for at least a week. I have now committed to holding a cocktail party for my school council. The only problem is, I'll be travelling the week before and won't be back until the night before the cocktail party. That means I won't have much prep time for this the day of, so as much as I can make ahead before I leave, the better.

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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What about polenta with the short ribs.  I love polenta and short ribs, and it's really easy to make.

I would likely go with a lighter soup or a composed salad.  Maybe a mushroom (broth vs. cream) soup?

I don't think I've ever made polenta. And sorry, no mushrooms!

Polenta is a terrific idea - provided you have a lovely assistant to stand there and stir it while it cooks. If you do, it's low-maintenance, easy and delicious. Just pick up some stracchino cheese to swirl in at the last minute. MMMMMMMMM...polenta and short ribs...

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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Polenta is a terrific idea - provided you have a lovely assistant to stand there and stir it while it cooks. If you do, it's low-maintenance, easy and delicious.  Just pick up some stracchino cheese to swirl in at the last minute. MMMMMMMMM...polenta and short ribs...

I'm all for lovely assistants. However, Russ Parsons has a foolproof almost-no-stir polenta (actually, I think he admits stealing it from Paula Wolfert) in How to Read a French Fry: just mix everything together and bake. I think it gets stirred once.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I don't think I've ever made polenta

I have made Paula Wolfert's Oven Baked Polenta and it is fabulous. It produces a wonderful creamy polenta which is no work and no stirring. Far superior to any stove top polenta I have every made.

It is on page 177 of her "The Slow Mediteranean Kitchen". PM me if you decide to do this and need the recipe. It would be absolutely outstanding with short ribs, or any long beefy braise.

Life is short, eat dessert first

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I do have Russ' book, but not Paula's yet. I've just read over Russ' recipe, which he admits to getting from Paula, and (please forgive me) but it sort of sounds like grits. :blink:

If I do polenta, then definately no soup. It would be too much, particularly as I'm planning to go heavier on the nibbles before.

Perhaps just a tossed salad would work in this case. I'm thinking of making individual apple charlottes from this month's issue of Fine Cooking for desserts.

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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