Bits and Pieces: My Labor Intensive Dinner Party

My Labor Intensive Dinner Party

I know many of you will relate and some will not. The ones who will not relate do not cook and the ones that do, cook.

We have a dinner date for this evening and I thought, well, I am not particularly busy, so I will prepare dinner. I made a deal with myself. No bought prepared items. All of this dinner would be from scratch. Okay, here we go. I baked bread from a friendship starter which I take half of and replenish the starter with milk, flour and sugar, then continue making the bread. I made that first to give it ample time to rise. Then I started with hors-de-vors. I made egg salad, which turned out especially good. Then, I pitted and pealed avocados and made homemade guacamole. I ground up chickpeas, oil and spices and there was a creamy, deep tasting humus. Now I am on a strict schedule so that the guacamole will not darken. Lemon juice is a good deterrent, but time is still of the essence. I have the French Onion soup already made. I toasted the bread rounds, place them on top with cheese, thickly placed. They are put on trays to brown under the broiler for a few minutes.

The lobster is boiled and it only takes a few minutes. They are ready to be shelled. The veggies have been chopped and all of the fresh herbs are chopped as well. Bell peppers, carrot slivers and onions are chopped and put in the wok ready to be sizzled. Oil is drizzled and cooking begins. As this mixture is stirred, I add curry and special secret spices from distant lands. I locate my secret sauce (yogurt, various grated cheeses, sherry, white wine, curry, and anything I find I might like to add). I shell the lobster and cut up a chicken breast from last night to be added at the last moment to the mixture. This is a lobster/chicken, curry sauce extraordinaire, usually and hopefully for tonight.

I scurry to set the table with beautiful glistening glasses, leather placemats, fluffy napkins, my every day dishes with a gold charger, modern silver settings, I add a dramatic two tiered dish, low enough for a centerpiece filled with yellow and orange fruit. I dangle a few cherries for drama. I have cut dramatic leaves from the garden to strategically place and the table looks beautiful.

I run back and forth stirring, placing and re-placing. I start water for Pasta. If I cook it a little bit ahead of time I can re-warm it with the sauce or if necessary nuke it for a minute. I pull off of the top shelf some dainty little bowls I brought back from Japan. I have several homemade cakes not finished that are great for an evening like this one. The dessert I have planned that I will put together last minute before serving will be tiny squares cut of each cake. I have cooked apples as you do in apple pie only I do not have the crust. Delicious. Anyhow, I will place several spoonfuls of the apples on top of the little cakes, drizzle caramel sauce over the lot and then top with a dollop of whipped cream. On top of the whipped cream there will be a dot of plum jam I made Friday with plums from our tree.

The guests are parking their car. I have to dash.

After the party: I have had a chance to realize that the wine and hors de vors were wonderful. The soup drenched in flavor and cheese was a treat. The lobster and chicken breast over pasta tasted so well, actually one guest had tears in her eyes because she said it tasted so good. It was good to have a little mound of fresh fruit compote next to the lobster, chicken sauce over pasta to help sooth the spices. I had tears in my eyes, too. The homemade bread was fantastic. Butter from Challenge. Now let me discuss the dessert. Skip tasted it before all the extras were added and he said, “Not good enough.” What happened after the apples, caramel sauce and whipped cream with a dot of plum jam was added? Legendary.

What can I say except, bravo? What I can also say is that it is labor intensive coming, during and going. It has to be a labor of love because you cannot pay me enough to stand up all day and all night to make this dinner. I must add that it was nice to be able to talk and not have to yell to be heard. It was nice not to wait for a table. It was totally nice not to have to pay the check, nice not to worry about valet parking, nice to visit, go from room to room and have the freedom to enjoy our meal at our own pace, not one set up for maximum seating at our table throughout the night.

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