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Feb 18, 2014 10:25 AM

Menu for a master chef guest

My friend is a very accomplished chef/owner of a resto here. James Beard finalist, modernist farm to table techniques, blah, blah.... He, of course, says that he is NEVER invited to dinner. I am an enthusiastic and adventurous amateur cook, and I find that after multiple dinner parties, I am NEVER invited to dinner. (I hope this is because my friends are intimidated, and not because of my undesirable personality!)

Anyway.... What to cook for the man and his wife? I am not going to try to compete with him on a technique basis, but am tempted to do a great dish, served family style, something like my fave choucroute garnis with a tarte flambée app and then a homey Moroccan orange cake for dessert.

Any chefs out there please weigh in with what you like to experience when invited to dinner. I would appreciate any advice or comment!



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  1. First, where is 'here?' The term for restaurant 'resto' is not part of my vocabulary. Second, when is this restaurant chef free from cooking at a restaurant to dine at someone's home?

    I watch food shows on TV. Several professional chefs like just like a simple home cooked meal that has been prepared by someone else to get away from the fancy stuff. Do your own thing. Just prepare it well and don't try to impress him. After all your guest for company rather than showmanship.

    1. Just cook something you're good at and lets you be with your guests. It's no fun to get invited to dinner and watch someone do 36 last minute things. A great roast chicken, some of your favorite sides, and a nice dessert and done!

      10 Replies
      1. re: Hobbert

        My thought too, thanks! I always try to make ahead so I can enjoy a cocktail with my guests. Good advice!

        1. re: Hobbert

          I echo what Hobbert said. He will be so happy that someone else is cooking for him. Keep it simple and stress-free. A great roast chicken is always appreciated and I imagine so would a great choucroute garnis. I might keep the app preceding it lighter than tarte flambee but that is personal preference.

          1. re: GretchenS

            Hmmm. You may be right, although a tarte flambée can be light if the crust is very thin, and one accentuates the caramelized onion rather than the fromage and the lardon.

            The choucroute is definitely a winter dish tho. Any suggestions for a light app?


            1. re: Danioro

              We had this meal recently; we started with a cream of celeriac soup, not terribly creamed, but it was a great start.

              We finished with an Alsatian apple cake. It was a simple but tasty meal.

              1. re: magiesmom

                Soup is an idea in this cold weather. I tend to like finger food with cocktails before dinner. But that's definitely an idea.


                1. re: Danioro

                  We don't do cocktails, so often use soup for a starter in winter.

              2. re: Danioro

                How about making a pissaladiere to start? It is similar to tarte flambée but usually(French way) does not include cheese so it is lighter. You could use any pizza dough and top it with caramelized onions, olives and anchovies(you could hide these in the oil you brush on the dough). I am french and I say resto all the time.

                1. re: DowntownJosie

                  Sounds good! I love Anchovies although most Americans run screaming when you mention them. I agree, resto is an approved abbreviation!

            2. re: Hobbert

              Ditto on doing a bird. If you want to impress him. Buy a quality bird and don't over cook it.

              1. re: mike0989

                I got bird down pat! I like Zuni too, but french country style with tarragon is my wife's favorite dish.

            3. Like you I am home cook who gets excited about cooking at home - people I know who do it for a living seem keep it simple at home and seek a break from the restaurant . I would say do something you are comfortable with and enjoy cooking and eating - keep it fun and relaxed - if you are having fun your guests will too - don't stress it.

              Moroccan Orange Cake sounds delish do you have a recipe?

              6 Replies
                1. re: JTPhilly


                  This cake is soooo good. Several variations out there, but I have found the almond flour makes it. I just finely grind raw almonds in a robocoup if no flour at hand.

                  IMHO the very best way to serve is with a real plain Greek yoghurt, like Fajè. Yummers!


                    1. re: Danioro

                      Thanks - That looks great, saved.

                      1. re: Danioro

                        Oh yum. Love almonds and Michel Roux anything (well, except seafood). I'll even do the measurement conversions (and I'm lazy), so that's how much I want to taste this! Thanks.

                        1. re: pine time

                          I guarantee you will love this cake! It is so exotic, from both a flavor and texture standpoint.
                          Some Classic Moroccan recipes involve boiling a couple of oranges for an hour or two (to remove bitterness from the peel) , and then chopping, processing the whole orange as a basis for the cake. I have done it this way, but the addition of zest and juice is about as good and much less work

                    2. I would stick to something you know and love so you know it will turn out good.

                      1 Reply
                      1. not a chef, but worked as a sommelier in fine-dining almost 20 years and am a very accomplished home cook and entertainer.

                        do you really flambe at home? it's showy for sure, but yields negligible flavor benefits.

                        cook a menu you feel confident with and will enjoy. make your guests feel welcome, so don't have a millionity little fiddly things that need attention after they arrive. he is tasting rich food all week, so don't bother with any kind of gut busters.

                        i'd do a braise, like beef cheeks or lamb shanks. (am also in my 3rd blizzard in 5 days, so forgive me for wanting comfort food!)

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          Braise is definitely the right idea - because you want to be free to enjoy your company -
                          You mentioned a Moroccan orange cake - what about a chicken or lamb tagine? With cows cows (I'm so sick of auto correct!) it's totally make ahead!

                          1. re: harryharry

                            Now there is a thought. I have a nice leg of Katahdin lamb in the freezer. That might be a goody.


                          2. re: hotoynoodle

                            Plus 1 for a braise. Intense flavor, not a lot of last minute work, and any cuisine will have something. I sometimes make a mole sauce, then braise a brisket in it. You get a very meaty mole, and so much liquid you can save and freeze half the sauce (even after reducing) - a great base for another meal.

                              1. re: Danioro

                                Not much I can point right to. I used the mole in Bocaditos (Reed Hearon cookbook) as a starting point, cull together Saveur and online recipes, and tweak.

                              2. re: sbp

                                I made the Bayless recipe in Saveur a month or so ago and it was fantastic. Took several hours of hands-on prep, though. Next time I'll start the day before.


                                1. re: bear

                                  This looks good but wow! Complicated? I need to try it to see if it is worth the effort!


                              3. re: hotoynoodle

                                A tarte flambee, aka flammekueche, is in the flatbread/pizza family, not a set the booze in the pan alight display. The flambee part refers to the baking hearth.

                                1. re: greygarious

                                  i figured that out after, thanks. yeah, i am more used to seeing the alsatian word for it. :)