HOME > Chowhound > Kosher >

Discussion

Need to impress a Shabbat dinner guest

You know that cliche question, "If you could invite any 5 people to dinner, who would it be"? Well, one of my husband's top five people is coming (with his wife) to a Shabbat dinner. At our house. In two weeks!!!!! I've only met him briefly but I know is that he is one of the most well-respected people in his profession (a field my husband is just starting out in).

I need to make a showstopping meal, something that will provide fodder for conversation (the guest seems to be quite shy), and make him not feel out of place being at a much younger couple's home for dinner (my husband and I are in our mid-20's he appears to be in his 50's). There will also be 4 other guests.

My usual impressive menu is a French spread featuring boeuf bourguignon but it seems a bit cliche and not so exciting. I am cooking in a very small and limited kitchen.

So, any ideas for something to make? Particularly an entree and a dessert?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Can I ask what the profession is? Might help in figuring out what might wow him. Whether more modern or more traditional, more showy or more understated, more complex or more simple, etc.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DeisCane

      Sorry, I'm gonna be a bit tight lipped about that. If I told you then you would easily figure out who the guy is, and he seems like a very private person.

    2. Nothing is wrong with a well-executed boeuf bourguignon. My preference would be rack of lamb, but that's generally iffy because so many people are lamb-averse.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ferret

        Lamb does sound impressive but also potentially polarizing. I think I have to rule it out. As for the boeuf, it doesn't make the nicest presentation (ascetically).

      2. Potato, Can I let you in on a little secret? People in this man's position are in a rather sad situation. They get invited over for Shabbos far less often than you or I do because people, younger people in particular, are daunted and hesitant to invite them. Therefore they are probably more pleased that you imagine by this invitation. (Senior congregational rabbis and professional chefs are in a similar position)

        You don't need to make a showstopping meal. Make something that you know that your kitchen and refrigerator capacity and schedule can accommodate. Boeuf bourguignon sounds wonderful; almost everyone likes it. And the evening is far more likely to be successful if you are not trying too hard.

        7 Replies
          1. re: AdinaA

            Thanks Adina, I see where you are coming from. I do think he gets meal invites, at least through his wife, or because people outside of his profession do not realize how highly regarded he is. Either way, I would like to try something impressive because if not now, when? It isn't every day that someone you've looked up to for years comes for dinner. That being said, I'm not going to do anything too extreme, like buy new kitchen equipment or spend hundreds of dollars on caviar and champagne. Just something memorable.

            1. re: PotatoPuff

              I'm worried that you say you want to "try" something impressive. Trying a new recipe is what you do on your significant other, not a guest you're in awe of.

              Cook something you're familiar with and that has had good reviews in the past. I'm sure this couple is delighted to be invited to your home. They are not expecting a Michelin starred restaurant, just pleasant company and decent food.

              1. re: Chatsworth

                I agree. You are not a novice but you are falling into a rookie trap. Make what you are good at. Your beef bourginion (sp?) may be boring to you, but your new guest has never had your version at your house.

                The advice I always give to beginners is Keep It Simple Sweetheart.

                Splurge on wine, flowers or a brand new tablecloth if you must but don't experiment here.

                1. re: SoCal Mother

                  Another way is to make a cocktail. This can easily be done by making an interesting simple syrup to go well with vodka or gin and topped with seltzer. I tend to prefer whiskey on it's own but plenty of people like them in cocktails too. Simple syrups keep for a long time, so you can make them well in advance and also adjust flavors if you like. I usually pick a fruit plus a fresh one of the following: mint, basil, thyme or rosemary. I'm happy to give suggestions, if you like.

                  I'd avoid a cocktail that requires multiple sources of alcohol because it can be easy to overdo it and a lot of the alcohols involved in that type of cocktail (appertifs, bitters, vermouth etc.) tend to get difficult in terms of kashrut.

                  1. re: CloggieGirl

                    Yes, I was thinking of doing a cocktail. I just found out that St. Germain (elderflower liquor) has kosher certification, so I'm going to find a recipe to make with it.

                    1. re: PotatoPuff

                      A very good French cassis has a hechsher last time I knew.

          2. Is he Ashkenazi or Sephardic?

            5 Replies
            1. re: Siegal

              Ashkenazi, but his wife is not of Ashkenazi background

              1. re: PotatoPuff

                I was going to suggest like Israeli style. Lots of little vegetables dishes and fish. It is impressive having 15 little plates. But some Ashkenazi don't enjoy all those vegetables.

                1. re: Siegal

                  I am super impressed - not to mention delighted - when a host/ess invests the time/effort to produce that kind of first course.

                  1. re: Siegal

                    Meh, I have trouble seeing that as exciting... my husband is Israeli so we do that kind of thing regularly. Also, it probably won't be as good as some he has had in Israel, and it's easy to compare.

                    1. re: PotatoPuff

                      As a non Israeli when I have 15 veggie dishes, morrocan fish, homemade schug, I'm in heaven. My Israeli husband less impressed.

              2. I would suggest a standing rib roast and to spark conversation if there any family dishes from you or your husband as sides would be good -

                1 Reply
                1. re: weinstein5

                  I was thinking a family chicken soup recipe but it isn't so impressive because EVERYONE has a family chicken soup recipe....