Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dinner Parties (Also, Looking For Opinions)

We have been trying to not eat out so much lately. Which I think is good. But when one of your main pastimes with friends is going out to lunch, you see people a little less when you stop going out as much. So we have been trying to invite people over periodically. The goal is: I feed them, they usually bring wine or dessert, and we all spend 1/10 of what we could have if we had gone to a bar for cocktails and then out to dinner (ok we didn't go whole-hog that often, but still).

We had friends over a couple of weeks ago. I served this over mashed potatoes and with a side of roasted asparagus. I cooked it a little longer, I think it's nicer because the chicken gets really tender and the tomatoes turn into a sauce. We had white wine and some cookies from a fancy local bakery. It was a really nice evening.

Now I want to do it again. And I need recipe ideas. I still want to be a little bit fancy, last time I actually plated stuff out in advance instead of putting everything on the table in big bowls and letting everyone serve themselves, and it was really nice that way without all the clutter on the table. But I am also horribly tempted to make a big batch of chocolate chip cookies (a.k.a. not fancy at all).

So tell me - what do you like when you go to someone's house for dinner? Fancy? Low-key? We're not talking a big group here, just 4 of us (same as last time). Do you usually bring something? Are you offended when people bring something to your dinner parties, like you were going to run out of food or something? Also, what are your favorite appetizers? Or do you prefer to wait for the meal and not fill up beforehand?

Image from here.

Menu-wise, the only thing that I've found that I'm excited about so far is Smitten Kitchen's mushroom appetizer, which I might have to test run tonight even though it totally won't go with dinner, just because I really really want it. I am contemplating some sort of roast pork, possibly a tenderloin sliced up over some salad so it's not terribly heavy. Ideas, anyone?


Kerry said...

I used to throw lots of parties, plus Wende has been to my house. Therefore, I am an expert.

1) People shouldn't bring something that's not a hostess gift if it's not a potluck.

2) I like making stuff that's too much for 1 person, doesn't freeze well or is totally over the top. Samosas. Chicken & 40 cloves of garlic. Homemade ice cream. That thing. It's festive.

Cookbook said...

I agree with Kerry on point 1. I have been guilty of doing this before and it's very awkward.

My over-the-fence neighbors have an every-Friday-night gathering at their house. It's the same core of guests every week, pretty much, but people come and go as their schedules allow. Robin makes a different soup from the Moosewood soup cookbook, they have fresh bread and dessert, and guests are allowed to bring accompaniments. It's a pretty neat idea.

LOJO said...

I have folks over a lot. Tomorrow I have dinner for 6- it's going to be smoked pork tenderloin, roasted garlic and lemon potatoes and some veggies to be determined tomorrow when I go to the store. Plus bread.
We are very casual. family style.

People shouldn't bring food unless they ok it first or you ask them to. Beer or wine is always welcome. I like making stuff that I don't have to fuss over so I can have a drink or two with folks and talk to them outside of the kitchen.

Anne (in Reno) said...

Thanks ladies! Now what are your thoughts on soup as non-main course? Should I replace appetizers with soup or have appetizers and then soup as 1st course? Then I could be Euro and have mains 2nd and salad 3rd. Hmm.