Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dinner by candle light

My partner and I participated in Earth Hour and I was reminded about how lovely a candle light dinner party can be.

This doesn’t have to be a purely romantic dinner idea – rather, this can provide a wonderful ambience for your next dinner party with guests.

I once went to a 50th birthday party and the path to their front door was lit be tea candles the whole way – there were hundreds of them and it made such an impression. There was no mistaking that we had gone to the right venue!

You can do the same – light the whole path leading to your front door or fill your outdoor entertaining area with candles. Of course you can also buy inexpensive Chinese lanterns to create the atmosphere. I have stayed in Fiji and Vanuatu and these outdoor dinners will always stay in mind..

But if your dinner party is indoors - light your room with candles. What an amzing variety we now have to choose from.

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

In the meantime, check out how convenient it is to order your stock of tea candles:

The Hostess with the Mostess

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Back from Japan

I am recently back from an amazing holiday in Japan. On top of visiting the sites, I enjoyed eating out at some amazing restaurants with some wonderful hosts and trying very authentic Japnese food that I'd never tried before. The way their food was presented was breath-taking. Of course I am always on the look out for new dinner party ideas and I had a host of ideas come to mind.

A common dinner experience in my travels was eating at restauarnts where diners had a high level of involvement in the preparation of their meal. It was so much fun. Here are just a couple of photos..

This is one of our hosts Yoshiko showing us what to do at the local Tepanyaki restaurant:

And this next photo is at a bar where we got to prepare our own sukiyaki dish:

A fellow delegate member spoke of her own dinner parties here in Sydney where she serves a dish called Shabu Shabu. This is a Japnese dish that takes only around 10 minutes to prepare - and it's a great dinner party idea.

It's one of Japan’s most popular dishes and is "a glorified fondue". It consists of paper-thin slices of raw beef and raw vegetables, cooked by each diner at the table in a pot of hot broth. I have found a recipe for you.

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

In the meantime, check out this Shabu Shanu pot:

The Hostess with the Mostess

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lost in Translation

I am heading off to Japan today so wanted to let my regular visitors know that I will not have computer access between March 14-26. So, there'll be no posts for 12 days.

I will not only be lost in translation but enjoying every second of Japanese culinary delight so I will not doubt have some Japanese dinner party news for you on my return!

Stay tuned for more dinner party news soon.

The Hostess with the Mostess

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What shall I serve my guests before the dinner party?

When guests arrive to your dinner party, why not use this time to serve some delicious and decorative canape? A little touch like this can make your dinner party even more memorable.

Typically, as your guests arrive they would be served a chilled drink - maybe some wine or champagne and guests would mingle, chatting.

To serve alcohol responsibly, it's a great idea to serve it with food. People may not have much food on their stomachs on arrival knowing that they are being served dinner, so the alcohol can go straight to one's head. The trick is that you don't want to serve too much food prior to the meal because you don't want appetites to be ruined for the actual meal itself.

You can serve some light finger food as a preview to your meal - often called a canapé or Hors d'oeuvre.

A canapé or canape is a small, prepared and usually decorative food, held in the fingers and often eaten in just one bite.

A typical canapé has a base of puff pastry, toast, bread or crackers - thinly sliced or cut into an attractive shape. These are topped with a "canopy". The topping is generally a spread - like a savory food, puree or relish - even a pate. Sometimes these toppings are "piped" onto the base with a pastry bag and the final touch is a garnish. Common garnishes can include herbs, finely sliced vegetables, caviar or scallions.

Canape are often served at stand-up cocktail events and over a few hours one would receive anywhere between four and eight pieces. So, as a foretaste to your meal, you needn't serve a lot. Personally, I love looking through the menu and making my selections because the canape look and sound so exotic. But the great thing is that you can make some yourself quickly and easily - and you can really make an impression on your guests. The internet has some wonderful free recipes.

You can walk them around on a canape platter offering them to your guests or they can be positioned on a tray so that people help themselves when they feel like a piece.

Canape and Hors d'oeuvre can be served as guests are stationery, while at the dinner table before the meal is served or as a part of the sit-down meal (but this last serving suggestion would then be called an "appetizer").

As an aside, I have found out that stationery hors d'oeuvre are also referred to as "table hors d'oeuvre." Passed hors d'oeuvre are referred to as "butler-style," "butlered" or "butler-passed" hors d'oeuvre.

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

In the meantime, check out this great recipe book:

The Hostess with the Mostess

Friday, March 7, 2008

The art of a successful dinner party

I found this article on which reinforces what I write about in this blog but my advice would be to plan as far in advance as you can. You know how busy are lives are at the moment? The more notice the better I feel! Here's a snippet from the articles anyway:

Going by the moniker Love That Chef, private chef Lillooet Fox, who spent a decade cooking for clients in Los Angeles before returning to her native Vancouver last year, says a planned menu is the first stage in ensuring a smooth party. "Design it a few days in advance," she says. "You will most likely want to change it as you set your guest list -- and always know what people do and don't eat so you can have something special for vegetarians."
The art of a successful dinner party

Blogged with Flock

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Community Press - Levee brings back Progressive Dinner Party

What a great dinner party idea - and perfect for a charity fund raiser.

"The event showcases the Levee's dining options and allows guests to receive an appetizer at one restaurant, an entree at another and dessert at a third."

Imagine getting three nearby restaurants involved and working out an amount where you factored in an amount on top of the restaurant's fee to go toward the charity? Sounds like fun!
Community Press - Levee brings back Progressive Dinner Party

Blogged with Flock

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Impress Your Dinner Party Guests With A Delectable Cheese Platter

As Featured On Ezine Articles

A great way to leave a lasting impression on your dinner party guests is to end the meal with a delectable cheese platter.

Cheese platters are traditionally the final course in most parts of the world. The cheese is eaten after dessert whilst in France the cheese may be eaten earlier. It is often served with a vintage port or a dessert wine.

Over the last 20 years, so many new cheeses have been developed so we are certainly not short on variety.

If you are going to serve a cheese platter, I'd suggest putting some thought in to what you will serve. You could visit a cheesemonger or cheese shop where you can get some advice and actually taste the cheeses for yourself. The benefit with the cheesemonger is that you can also ask advice on the wine that would best match the cheeses you select - that is if you really want to impress your guests.

For a visually interesting platter select a mix of hard sharp cheeses, soft creamy chesees and pungent blue cheeses. Consider a mix of flavors, textures, and colors and a variety in sizes and shapes. You should serve three to five types of cheese on your platter.

The cheeses need to be served at room temperature for their fullest flavor. They should be taken out of the refrigerator an hour to an hour and a half before serving. The cheeses will stay freshest when covered with parchment or waxed paper rather than in plastic wrap and left in the crisper drawer of your fridge. This avoids the plastic smell and taste that is often left by a plastic wrap. Make sure the cheeses are wrapped until just prior to serving.

It is best to serve the cheese with a grain - like plain crackers or crusty plain bread but avoid crackers with spices and black pepper that may interfere with the flavors of the cheese. Bread is the most interesting vehicle for cheese.

Consider sour dough bread or walnut bread. Spicy blue cheeses for instance go beautifully with honey-walnut bread. The nutty flavor goes fabulously with cheese, without being too overpowering. Pecan-raisin loaf or cranberry-walnut bread with nuts and fruits can be served as other options.

As a general rule, soft cheeses go with light crusty breads while stronger breads go with more tangy breads such sourdoughs.

One of the most delightful things about a cheese platter is that accompaniments are added to the platter to match each of the cheeses which truly create that lasting taste sensation you're after.

These can include:

- quince or fig jam or paste
- muscatel grapes
- fresh pear
- fresh apple
- figs
- dates
- berries
- rocket leaves
- condiments such as chutneys or wine jellies

These also add color and you can present the platter artistically.

You should serve the cheeses on a large wooden or bamboo cutting board serving an odd number of cheeses on your platter - which is apparently more pleasing to the eye! In between them, arrange the accompaniments and condiments.

Arrange the cheese on a plate from mildest to strongest with your mildest starting at 12 o'clock. If you're not sure which is strongest, all you need to is smell it. Smellier cheeses are generally stronger tasting.

You should avoid anything citrus because it's far too acidic and will overwhelm your cheeses.

To cut the cheese your guests will need a cheese knife. Though many knives will work for slicing cheese some shapes are much better suited than others. The knife should be long enough to cut a nice sized piece of cheese off and have a wide enough blade to pick up the cheese after it is sliced. You will need a knife that has a rounded edge for easy spreading of softer cheeses like Brie or fresh goat's cheese. Try a knife like this:

Nothing beats serving dessert wines like Port, Tawny Port, Muscat, and Sauternes with strong blue cheeses. Milder cheeses can be overwhelmed by syrupy dessert wines, so avoid them if you are not serving strong cheeses and of course don't forget to serve water.

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

The Hostess with the Mostess