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Cooking to show off


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I think that, like any art form/talent/passion, there is an element of egotism when one creates something that one knows is going to be on display... Especially when it comes to something like food, which is almost intrinsically associated with an audience. You can paint in private, you can play music in private, but eating is really a social event (or at least it should be). I think that cooking is associated with giving in many ways, and in return you want recognition for your efforts, and if it corresponds, your talents. The problem is when the perfectionism this engenders causes you to become insecure (was i impressive enough??). That happens to me frequently...but i am also pretty amature

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Show off?

Me, I just love to cook. So does my sister. Together, forget about it. We don't know where to stop. She invited me to visit and asked if I minded if she invited a few (forty) people over for dinner. I said sure. Why not?

We decided to cook wild game (pig, turkey, venison). Because someone gave it to her and it was taking up too much room in her freezer. Even though neither of us had ever cooked any wild game before.

We found a bunch of awesome-sounding recipes and then cooked for a solid three days (starting at 7am, finishing at 1am and taking very short breaks). Of the thirty recipes, twenty-four were new to us. Almost everything was over-the-top good. The rest were merely great. (Except for one dish that we ended up hiding because it was over-the-top bad.)

How my sister will ever top that party is beyond me.

- kim

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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lesfen,

First, congratulations!!

Huh, I suppose you are sad about the rehearsal dinner?

Second, You're the bride! You have too much on your plate for this!!

Sorry, but I wanted to do that.

ANY SUGGESTIONS?!  Be gentle, my budget isn't without it's limits (I do have a wedding to pay for) and time constraints are in place.

I'm guessing the families have a rather basic cooking background, ehh?? Anyways, if you want to show off on a budget, why don't you try the "I just threw this together. It was no problem at all"-type of dinner.

Start with a "simple salad." Not iceberg, but one of the "European" or continental type of salads with frisee, mache, radicchio, romaine, spinach, etc. Maybe a raspberry vinaigrette, homemade, of course.

How about a "simple pasta dish?" If you don't have time to make your own pasta, that's all right. You can cook the packaged pasta ahead of time. Do make your own pasta sauce which you can make in a crock pot or have it cooking on the back burner all day. Buy some fresh Parmesan cheese, not the green container stuff ...

Add some cheese rolls or cheese twists made with puff pastry. They can be baked and frozen for later use.

See how "simple" it is. Maybe I should try this one day. I hope this helps. The idea is that you can cook ahead of time and when dinner rolls around, everything can be warmed up.

Below is the menu my moronic friend prepared for 30 for his rehearsal dinner. He and I and my wife, that is -- for his first wedding I was a groomsman; for his second, I was best man; for his third, I was best man and sous-chef. Apparantly he needed something to stress over since walking down the aisle was a bit old-hat. His wife-to-be didn't seem to mind, but he and I almost broke up when I told him to stop making life difficult for himself and those around them and cook something reasonable. At least I got him to drop the fish course.

I submit this because, in the end, it was a relatively doable menu. Ridiculous, but largely executable in advance, and mostly inexpensive stuff -- you may find something useful here.

I also added in some gravlax and two bottles of home-made aquavit. After the aquavit, everything tasted good.

Hors d’oeuvres

Duck Pate

White Bean Crostini with Rosemary

Red Bell Pepper Dip

Red Caviar Dip

Assorted crackers and veggies

Appetizer

Shrimp and Asparagus Marinade

Soup

Soupe de Bonne Femme (Good Wife’s Soup)

Hearty breads –black, brown, dense white

Dill Caraway Oil

Basil Oil

Garlic-Oregano Vinaigrette

Vegetable

Roasted Beets with Capers

Starch

Dill Mashed Potatoes with Crème Fraiche

Entrée

Herb- And Garlic-Crusted Beef Tenderloin

Salad & Cheese

Watercress, Radicchio and Endive with Mustard-Honey Vinaigrette

Assorted Cheeses

French Baguette

Dessert

Frozen Peach and Amaretti Soufflés

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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One of my co-workers, who is actually a fantastic baker, kept going on all week about how she was bringing the best dish and that we were all going to be blown away... it was that Pilsbury veggie pizza thing.  You know the one... cresent roll dough spread out on a pan, slathered with cream cheese, and sprinkled with broccoli and other assorted veggies.  God, my throat's tightening up just thinking about it.  If this is what I'm up against, it's ON!  The next one will be in July and I'm coming in loaded for bear.

Hey, Lesfen, I didn't know you worked with Sandra Lee. :raz:

"Give me 8 hours, 3 people, wine, conversation and natural ingredients and I'll give you one of the best nights in your life. Outside of this forum - there would be no takers."- Wine_Dad, egullet.org

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show off???

heaven forbid!....says this Scorpio born in the year of the dragon! :raz:

since it's usually the two of us... although i'm so fortunate to have a hubby that does the praise thing very well... :wub: i live for those opportunities to show off at family and friend gatherings. i cook and bake like this everyday... why should i stop when i can scoop in a bigger audience? :laugh:

when i was still working our office was infamous for our monthly bday/potluck parties. we had a planning committee (and a sign up list), so of course i had to be in on that at least every other year. :wink: we rotated between brunches, lunches and afternoon snacks, always with some unifying theme. lots of show offs there, no gender excluded... :raz: we loved it. some of the people from the other offices around us would ask to be included as guests during their bday month. we were generous, always more than enough food for 50+ people! it became tradition to include a name tag with recipe for the dishes we brought. lots of fun, very educational... and great presentation counted for extra points. :laugh:

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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The only problem with showing off is that it creates some pressure to perform every year, or even to outdo your prior efforts.  When it comes to functions at my firm where we have a potluck, there's often a buzz regarding what "Dean made this year."  Yeah, I try to impress, but I really want to share.  Sometimes, the snob that I am, I just want to educate folks how good homemade food can really be.

I'm with that attitude. And add that I cook "impressive" stuff to push my boundaries, to present excellent food that I want to eat, but only get the chance when there are enough people to make the effort worthwhile. Let's face it you're not going to bother with a 10 course meal for yourself are you?

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The only problem with showing off is that it creates some pressure to perform every year, or even to outdo your prior efforts.  When it comes to functions at my firm where we have a potluck, there's often a buzz regarding what "Dean made this year."  Yeah, I try to impress, but I really want to share.  Sometimes, the snob that I am, I just want to educate folks how good homemade food can really be.

I'm with that attitude. And add that I cook "impressive" stuff to push my boundaries, to present excellent food that I want to eat, but only get the chance when there are enough people to make the effort worthwhile. Let's face it you're not going to bother with a 10 course meal for yourself are you?

Not 10 course, but I've made some fine multi-course meals for myself when I'm home alone.

I'm pretty much with those attitudes, too -- especially what Dean said about wanting to educate others about good food, or introduce them to something different.

I've been following this thread since it started and every time I read a new post, I've asked myself if I do cook to show off. I really don't think I do. Given so many posts with affirmative replies, I wondered if I do, but maybe I'm in some kind of denial about it or something. :biggrin: ...But, I think not. Maybe it's because I was taught not to show off when I was growing up, or somehow attached a negative connotation to that. Or maybe this is just semantics.

I cook because I love to cook and because I love to eat, and when I do cook for others, I want to please them, and I suppose that means I am trying to impress them. I like to see people enjoy what I cook, and I enjoy the compliments. If that is showing off, I guess I must plead guilty, but I don't think of it in that way.

Do any others of you look at your cooking in this way, rather than view it as cooking for others to show off?

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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I actually served this menu to 10 people in a hospital community room. Get some old linen and napkins at the 2nd hand store, some greenery from the florist and your guests will think you are perfect. (although as your future inlaws, I'm sure that they already do!)

1. shrimp cocktail-(place the shrimp in small footed cups or demitasse cups ahead of time, put in the cooler). Purchase some banana leaves from the grocery and make some cute shapes to place the shrim on. Pass two sauces, the cocktail sauce from the NY oyster bar cookbook, and the remulaude sauce from the Time life foods of the world.

2.Cinderella Short Ribs- from Smoke and spice cookbook. Its a long recipe, but worth it, especially if your guests are truly meat and potatoes people. Put the ribs in your oven at 200 degrees at 10 p.m. the night before, check them at 9 a.m. Brush with sauce and keep warm.

3. Crusted broiled Salmon. Season some bread crumbs, dip salmon in milk and in crumbs, put in pan in cooler. Put in oven just before you st art serving the first course. Check

4. Roasted potatoes with Rosemany. Roast off potatoes after meat is out of the oven. They hold pretty well and can be heated briefly while the fish cooks.

5. Strawberry shortcake with Whipped cream and carmel sauce.

Make the carmel sauce the day before and put in the cooler. Whip cream, (I used cool whip because of the shortage of facilities in the hospital community room.) Cook off some sweetened pie crust. Assemble each dessert where they can watch you and let their mouths water. I guarantee you the room will get quiet.

Email me if you want any of the recipes I used. Its quick, not nerve wracking and your guests will always remember it.

This is sad... I'm getting married in 2 weeks.  2 words... rehearsal dinner.  Maybe 12 people.  I know that mom-in-law can't afford dinner for 12+, so I volunteered to have a little get-together at my place after the rehearsal.  The family is doing the "you're the bride!  you have too much on you plate for this!!"  No no... this is the perfect oppotunity to establish myself as the premier show-off cook in the family(ies).  Heh heh.  It's too easy!!!  Burgers and macaroni salad?  Nope.  Burgers and pasta salad.  Nope. 

ANY SUGGESTIONS?!  Be gentle, my budget isn't without it's limits (I do have a wedding to pay for) and time constraints are in place.

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I cook because I love to cook and because I love to eat, and when I do cook for others, I want to please them, and I suppose that means I am trying to impress them.  I like to see people enjoy what I cook, and I enjoy the compliments.  If that is showing off, I guess I must plead guilty, but I don't think of it in that way. Do any others of you look at your cooking in this way, rather than view it as cooking for others to show off?

Susan, I think that I agree with much of what you say here. I definitely cook because I like to please people and myself, and because I enjoy getting compliments. But I also cook because I enjoy the experience of cooking itself; the process is as important as the product.

I like being in my kitchen, where I can feel a very strong sense of knowledge, skill, curiosity, pride, and pleasure. I can trace my adult life through the making of, say, some fried chicken, reviewing the ups and downs of that dish as I learned it. I can experience my ability to transform a pile of raw materials into something quite magical, something as simple as a tomato sauce: I still love that moment when I return to the pot and see that the tomatoes, onions, garlic, oil, and so on have suddenly become gravy.

In that sense, I suppose some would say that I'm "showing off," if that means that I'm cooking in order to feel that sense of pride and pleasure. But maybe this gets at some of the things you're raising....

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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What I hate is when I'm not showing off, but my guests think I am. We usually eat well at home -- just got back from a quick holiday, but the last dinner at home was a quick-but-tasty chicken and baby asparagus pasta with a light lemon-garlic cream sauce. So, when I have the time and some folks coming, I like to bust out the coq au vin or something that takes a bit longer.

Unfortunately, my dinner guests in my new city, rather than raving over the food like my old friends back home, obsess over "how much work" I've done, to the point where I feel insulted. I guess I feel this way for two reasons. One, why bother having guests if you're not prepared to make a bit of an effort to please them? If I'm going to share a meal with someone, I want it to be good. Second, it seems to imply that I'm making others feel bad by presenting a meal which they might not be capable of producing. I especially feel this from women (particularly the married ones) we've had over. It's like they think their husband will start demanding better meals from them or something, so I should just slap up some Chicken Tonight and serve it with cask wine. For some, dinner seems more about being polite (g-d forbid you should help yourself to the last half-portion from a shared platter) than what's on the plate.

It really disappoints me that I get these negative vibes from trying to share something good with people. I mean, the people we invite over surely must be better at something than I am and I don't mind that. Maybe it's the 'tall poppy' phenomenon. Anyway, these days we more often join others for dinner at restaurants and save the good stuff for ourselves. I can't wait to visit home for a while and cook for some folks who let themselves really appreciate my cookin' without reservations.

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I hear that often. Its surprising to me that people dont cook from scratch as much as they used to and people seem to make a big deal out of it.

I simply tell my quests that my pleasure was in the process of preparing for them. They are special and I wanted to make the extra effort. Yes, they will think that you are crazy, but they wont turn down a dinner invite.

What I hate is when I'm not showing off, but my guests think I am.  We usually eat well at home -- just got back from a quick holiday, but the last dinner at home was a quick-but-tasty chicken and baby asparagus pasta with a light lemon-garlic cream sauce.  So, when I have the time and some folks coming, I like to bust out the coq au vin or something that takes a bit longer.

Unfortunately, my dinner guests in my new city, rather than raving over the food like my old friends back home, obsess over "how much work" I've done, to the point where I feel insulted.  I guess I feel this way for two reasons.  One, why bother having guests if you're not prepared to make a bit of an effort to please them?  If I'm going to share a meal with someone, I want it to be good.  Second, it seems to imply that I'm making others feel bad by presenting a meal which they might not be capable of producing.  I especially feel this from women (particularly the married ones) we've had over.  It's like they think their husband will start demanding better meals from them or something, so I should just slap up some Chicken Tonight and serve it with cask wine.  For some, dinner seems more about being polite (g-d forbid you should help yourself to the last half-portion from a shared platter) than what's on the plate.

It really disappoints me that I get these negative vibes from trying to share something good with people.  I mean, the people we invite over surely must be better at something than I am and I don't mind that.  Maybe it's the 'tall poppy' phenomenon.  Anyway, these days we more often join others for dinner at restaurants and save the good stuff for ourselves.  I can't wait to visit home for a while and cook for some folks who let themselves really appreciate my cookin' without reservations.

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