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Sep 13, 2011 11:08 AM

need to cook for 8 women, book club is at my house this month. Eeks!

Everyone in the book club knows I took cooking classes recently. I am having them over for dinner/book club in 2 weeks. We usually meet at a restaurant. I don't want to spend a ton but I want it to be nice. I was thinking pasta or maybe chicken and potatoes with a salad..... I could do spaghetti, ceasar salad and garlic bread.... and I need a dessert too. How does that sound? Do I have to do appetizers? We may just order in Thai if I can't figure something out;)

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  1. Do you normally sit around a table to eat? I can't really see eating pasta off my lap while holding an open book. Just something to think about. But maybe you do eat at a table, in which case, if pasta is something you're very comfortable with, then by all means go for it. You'll impress them the most by not being stressed, so something you know you do well, like a good pasta, would be best.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LulusMom

      we can all fit at my table and chat. We usually don't open the book during our discussions when I come to think about it.

    2. What is the book? Maybe there's inspiration there?

      3 Replies
      1. re: AnneMarieDear

        Olive Kitteridge, nothing about food in the book but it is set in Maine.

        1. re: danionavenue

          Hi Danionavenue! My book club read Olive Kitteridge recently, and I was in charge of the dinner. I decided to serve food that was suggested by the novel, just because this helps to decide the menu. There's not a whole lot of focus on food in the book (with the exception of the chapter about the anorexic girl) but there are some hints. I served Lobster Pie (lots of lobstermen in Maine) a salad with blueberries, brownies (remember the scene at the funeral when Olive eats all the brownies?) I would have made blueberry muffins (muffins appear in the book) but they seemed kind of extraneous! I also made a fresh corn salad, for no reason except that corn is such a seasonal New England favorite.
          BTW, we all loved the book. I heartily recommend it.
          P.S. Lobster is fearsomely expensive unless you live near to a source --somewhere coastal in the East. I ended up making a Lobster Pie using fake lobster (I think it's hake) in a casserole with mushrooms, cream, and sherry, topped with fresh breadcrumbs. Real Lobster Pie is supposed to be topped with buttered Ritz Crackers but I was going upscale! ;-) Anyway, people scarfed it up. I liked that I could make it slightly ahead and then bake it for the meal.

          1. re: Goblin

            that was so funny when she ate all the brownies ha ha

      2. My fragile male ego quails at the thought of keeping 8 women satisfied at the same time.

        Take a theme from the book your reading. Hopefully there is some alliteration to food. Or the region of the world it is located in. When all else fails, breakfast with eggs to order always impresses and always is looked favorably upon in the early evening.. Save angst and use the Knorr hollandaise. And definately prep for the omelets.

        So what is the book?

        1 Reply
        1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

          "My fragile male ego quails at the thought of keeping 8 women satisfied at the same time."

          Best smile of my day so far.

        2. I'm just imagining 8 women trying not to drip red sauce down the front of their nice clothes as they eat pasta. I wouldn't do pasta; I'd do something that is easily eaten but scrumptious. Since it is dinner, rather than lunch, I wouldn't do a quiche or an egg dish. I'd find a casserole that has nice ingredients and is somewhat rich. Putting it in the oven to bake will be much easier than trying to boil pasta, make sauce, make salad, etc. Do a nice casserole, a really nice salad with lots of tastes, buy bread from a good local bakery, and the day before make a dessert. Serve coffee, if the ladies like it, or what ever beverage you think they will like. I agree that using an ingredient or two that echoes something from the book is a great idea. Here is just a little secret: most people just want the dessert anyway. If most of your meal is nice, and the dessert is extra special, they'll think your meal is wonderful!

          3 Replies
          1. re: sueatmo

            If I did a casserole would I start the meal of with a small plate of salad and bread, then serve say, Shepherd's Pie in a low profile bowl if you will? Is Shepherd's Pie a coastal dish? What kind of dessert of go with that. I was going to make a trifle for one last time since it will be winter soon but that won't fit. Maybe pie and ice cream on the side with coffee?

            1. re: danionavenue

              You could certainly do that! Since shepherd's pie is pretty heavy, I would look for a lighter dessert. But that is just me. A really simple dessert is a scoop of very good quality sherbet in a triangle of fresh melon. You could drizzle just a bit of a good chocolate syrup over that. But your friends probably want a 'real' dessert, and if you are up for it, you could make a cake or pie, or fancy brownies. There is no one on the face of the earth who does not love a fancied up brownie.

              1. re: sueatmo

                starting to think I want a 1 plate meal and shepperds pie will kind of take up the whole plate. Will consider another casserole. Or, back to chicken potatoes and salad...

          2. I too am in a book club and we go to someone else house each time - host does the main dishes and the guests bring the appetizers, desserts and drinks - we find less pressure that way and takes some of the burden off the host. We are all in Manhattan or Brooklyn with small kitchens and living rooms and this is what we’ve had so far:

            Pozole, guacamole
            Baked Macaroni and Cheese, salad
            Big sushi platter and other cold salads (beet salad, orzo salad, kale salad etc.)
            Summer roll bar - this was a hit - rice paper, tofu, mango, cucumber carrot, mint, basil, various sauces and people made their own
            Burrito bar - with all the fixings ordered in from a local Mexican place and then everyone did their own.

            One of the best desserts we had was pretty simple, someone sliced a baguette, put some chocolate on it and baked it until it got melty and then sprinkled it with coarse salt when it came out of the oven.