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Need to impress a Shabbat dinner guest

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PotatoPuff Mar 10, 2014 11:56 AM

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?

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    DeisCane RE: PotatoPuff Mar 10, 2014 12:08 PM

    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
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      PotatoPuff RE: DeisCane Mar 10, 2014 01:24 PM

      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.

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      ferret RE: PotatoPuff Mar 10, 2014 12:12 PM

      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
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        PotatoPuff RE: ferret Mar 10, 2014 01:25 PM

        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).

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        AdinaA RE: PotatoPuff Mar 10, 2014 01:24 PM

        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
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          cappucino RE: AdinaA Mar 10, 2014 01:28 PM

          I agree with AdinaA

          1. re: AdinaA
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            PotatoPuff RE: AdinaA Mar 10, 2014 01:36 PM

            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
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              Chatsworth RE: PotatoPuff Mar 16, 2014 11:57 AM

              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
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                SoCal Mother RE: Chatsworth Mar 16, 2014 04:27 PM

                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
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                  CloggieGirl RE: SoCal Mother Mar 16, 2014 08:27 PM

                  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
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                    PotatoPuff RE: CloggieGirl Mar 17, 2014 01:04 PM

                    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
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                      Vinnie Vidimangi RE: PotatoPuff Mar 24, 2014 10:08 PM

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

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            Siegal RE: PotatoPuff Mar 10, 2014 01:40 PM

            Is he Ashkenazi or Sephardic?

            5 Replies
            1. re: Siegal
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              PotatoPuff RE: Siegal Mar 10, 2014 04:17 PM

              Ashkenazi, but his wife is not of Ashkenazi background

              1. re: PotatoPuff
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                Siegal RE: PotatoPuff Mar 10, 2014 04:50 PM

                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
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                  AdinaA RE: Siegal Mar 10, 2014 04:55 PM

                  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
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                    PotatoPuff RE: Siegal Mar 10, 2014 06:49 PM

                    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
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                      Siegal RE: PotatoPuff Mar 10, 2014 07:11 PM

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

              2. weinstein5 RE: PotatoPuff Mar 10, 2014 02:06 PM

                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
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                  PotatoPuff RE: weinstein5 Mar 10, 2014 06:39 PM

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

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                  Doctormhl1 RE: PotatoPuff Mar 10, 2014 02:07 PM

                  For main course prepare both Beef Wellington and Pheasant under Glass. They're both rather simple and let you guests have both.
                  For dessert simply prepare Cherries Jubilee.
                  Serve plenty of strong alcoholic beverages so your "top five" guest will not know what the hell he and his wife are being served.... but will leave happy and satisfied.
                  My wife guarantees your dinner will be a resounding success. good luck.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Doctormhl1
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                    AdinaA RE: Doctormhl1 Mar 10, 2014 02:56 PM

                    LOL

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                    helou RE: PotatoPuff Mar 10, 2014 04:37 PM

                    A lot of these suggestions sound great for a week night, but could be problematic for Friday night/Shabbos. Cherries Jubilee, for example, can't be lit at serving time.

                    I also think timing is critical with a standing rib roast, or rack of lamb. How long can you really have it sitting in a warming drawer?

                    I think you have a lot more flexibility with something like Boeuf Bourguignon. It's hard to time dinner exactly. Will people be going to shul? Kiddush, washing, etc. All these make me very anxious when I have Friday night guests.

                    18 Replies
                    1. re: helou
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                      cheesecake17 RE: helou Mar 10, 2014 06:12 PM

                      I agree. Make something that'll be ok if it has to sit a while.

                      I'd also recommend making a chicken and a beef dish, just in case one of the guests doesn't eat chicken or beef. Since you're a lot of people, it won't seem like you're overdoing it. Lots of sides, too.

                      1. re: cheesecake17
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                        PotatoPuff RE: cheesecake17 Mar 10, 2014 06:51 PM

                        I'm going to make only make one course, I don't think we need more. But great idea with keeping in mind the time sitting on the blech. Dinner won't be until at least an hour and a half after candle lighting, maybe more.

                        1. re: PotatoPuff
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                          DevorahL RE: PotatoPuff Mar 11, 2014 12:20 PM

                          Braised dishes can usually sit and warm without overcooking, which is not necessarily true of a drier roasted dish. A standing rib roast is gorgeous and delicious, but it may be hard to get the timing exactly right (unless someone on this board has tips on that!) An easier option may be a higher-end braised beef dish, like short ribs or a really nice brisket. Then you can up the gourmet factor with a great rub, sauces, etc., without risking dry meat.

                          1. re: DevorahL
                            weinstein5 RE: DevorahL Mar 11, 2014 12:28 PM

                            I have successfully cooked a standing rib roast repeatedly using the following cooking method - http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/pa... - the trick is time so turn the oven down right before Shabbos Starts - the roast always comes out nice and juicy -

                            1. re: weinstein5
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                              DevorahL RE: weinstein5 Mar 11, 2014 12:56 PM

                              This looks awesome! What do you do about the instruction to give it a blast of heat right before serving? Is the meat warm enough without it?

                              1. re: DevorahL
                                weinstein5 RE: DevorahL Mar 11, 2014 01:14 PM

                                The final 30-40 minutes you raise the temperature back to 375 - and this is where the timing is critical - right before shabbos shut off or turn the oven down to warm - and take the roast out about 20 minutes before serving timeto let it rest -

                                The beauty of this method is how the meat comes out - in my family we have people who like the full spectrum of temperature from rare to well done or more precisely the rare meat fans like the texture of rare meat - the medium to well done don't like the pink - with this method the meat has the consistency of rare but no pink -

                              2. re: weinstein5
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                                PotatoPuff RE: weinstein5 Mar 11, 2014 01:08 PM

                                Hi Weinstein- The link you sent doesn't work, but sounds intriguing.

                                1. re: PotatoPuff
                                  weinstein5 RE: PotatoPuff Mar 11, 2014 01:16 PM

                                  I think there us an issue with the Food Network site none of the other licks are working - But here is a link to a copy of the original http://www.food.com/recipe/foolproof-...

                                  1. re: weinstein5
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                                    AdinaA RE: weinstein5 Mar 11, 2014 01:39 PM

                                    Weinstein, How many minutes go by in your household between turning the oven off that second time and taking the roast out of the oven to let it sit for 20 minutes and serve?

                                    "just before Shabbos" is pretty precise, but the time between candlelighting and kiddush can vary by a lot (length of walk to shul, Carlebach davening, possibility of d'var Torah, being buttonholed for a post-maairev chit-chat, and so forth)

                                    So, is your roast sitting in an oven on off for 30 minutes or 90?

                                    1. re: AdinaA
                                      weinstein5 RE: AdinaA Mar 11, 2014 02:10 PM

                                      any where from an hour to an hour and a half -

                                      1. re: weinstein5
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                                        helou RE: weinstein5 Mar 11, 2014 02:26 PM

                                        This sounds great, so please confirm that I got this right. If candlelighting is at 7 p.m. I would put the roast in the oven at, say, 2:30. Shut it off at 3:30, and then turn it on again at 6:15.
                                        Then turn it off at 7 - candlelighting, and take it out when everyone comes home home from shul, or just before or after kiddush, approximately 20 minutes before the main will be served. Depends on if you're serving appetizer, soup, whatever.
                                        Is this right?

                                        1. re: helou
                                          weinstein5 RE: helou Mar 11, 2014 03:30 PM

                                          That is correct - this recipe has never failed to impress

                                    2. re: weinstein5
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                                      PotatoPuff RE: weinstein5 Mar 11, 2014 04:16 PM

                                      Thanks Weinstein, I'll check it out!

                                2. re: DevorahL
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                                  PotatoPuff RE: DevorahL Mar 11, 2014 01:07 PM

                                  Devorah, I was thinking about that- I do have a great family brisket recipe, but was wondering if that is too cliche? I feel like many Shabbat tables have great brisket. Thoughts?

                                  1. re: PotatoPuff
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                                    DevorahL RE: PotatoPuff Mar 11, 2014 01:44 PM

                                    I've only made a standing rib roast once, but it was WOW. A lot of the same flavor and texture as a good steak, incredibly juicy and tender, but super easy to make. The method Weinstein5 describes above sounds like it would work great for Shabbat.

                                    If you're nervous about the exact timing and want something more forgiving, why not braised short ribs? (something like this: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/1...)

                                3. re: PotatoPuff
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                                  davidg1 RE: PotatoPuff Apr 17, 2014 09:57 AM

                                  One course? That doesn't seem like a way to impress a guest. You're not a college student. Even if you just serve a cold appetizer and fresh fruit for dessert. I think people expect a 3 course meal when invited to dinner.

                                  I would also second the post above that said you shouldn't be experimenting in this situation.

                                  1. re: davidg1
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                                    davidg1 RE: davidg1 Apr 17, 2014 10:05 AM

                                    Oops, I posted this before reading down to your actual menu, which sounds great. And congrats they're coming back.

                                    1. re: davidg1
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                                      PotatoPuff RE: davidg1 Apr 17, 2014 12:50 PM

                                      Thanks David.

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                              CloggieGirl RE: PotatoPuff Mar 10, 2014 05:27 PM

                              Honestly, I'd stick with dishes that you know you can do well and will taste good. It's better than making something super exciting that fails spectacularly.

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                                femmevox RE: PotatoPuff Mar 11, 2014 04:58 PM

                                Stick with the boeuf bourguinon.

                                Pass hot stuffed mushrooms before-and/or other savory vegetables--roasted tiny carrots, stuffed grape leaves. Serve onion soupor a chilled potato leek soup.

                                Make a beautiful asparagus salad.

                                Make a lovely apple cake. Serve with coconut cream or sorbet.

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                                  PotatoPuff RE: PotatoPuff Mar 12, 2014 07:42 AM

                                  Update: I'm going to try out a chicken recipe this shabbat, but will most likely end up with boeuf. Which leaves me with the question, how to present it in an impressive way? It sometimes ends up looking just like a blah brown bowl of stew.

                                  16 Replies
                                  1. re: PotatoPuff
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                                    DevorahL RE: PotatoPuff Mar 12, 2014 07:49 AM

                                    You'd be surprised about what a difference a nice platter and a sprinkle of parsley can make! Would you consider plating portions individually so you can arrange the meat nicely alongside some baby potatoes or another nice-looking side dish and sprinkle it with fresh herbs for color?

                                    1. re: DevorahL
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                                      PotatoPuff RE: DevorahL Mar 12, 2014 09:30 AM

                                      I'm not plating individually, both because I don't have room to set 8 plates anywhere other than the table we are eating on and because I don't know how much food each person will want.

                                    2. re: PotatoPuff
                                      melpy RE: PotatoPuff Mar 12, 2014 07:55 AM

                                      Last time we had this out at a dinner party, the host served in a shallow bowl over mashed potato and a sprig or sprinkling of parsley. It was quite lovely. The mash was slightly off center and the stew was ample enough to mostly cover but wasn't symmetrical.

                                      1. re: PotatoPuff
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                                        AdinaA RE: PotatoPuff Mar 12, 2014 07:56 AM

                                        Do the button mushrooms and tiny, whole onions separately - in some of the beef juices but in their own pot. Then serve by heaping boeuf into the center of a shallow platter or bowl, and spooning the onions & mushrooms around it in a ring. As you serve, say, or arrange for Mr. PotatoPuff to say: Oh, wow! PotatoPuff, you did your fabulous, classique, haute cuisine française, boeuf bourguignon (pre-rehearsing him on French pronunciation).

                                        Because people enjoy a wonderful meal more when they have been clued in that you made something special.

                                        1. re: AdinaA
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                                          joaniesl RE: AdinaA Mar 13, 2014 07:21 PM

                                          I've served boeuf bourguignon in individual bread bowls with a scoop of mashed potatoes on each serving.

                                          1. re: joaniesl
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                                            PotatoPuff RE: joaniesl Mar 13, 2014 08:49 PM

                                            cute idea!!!!

                                            Standing rib roast is officially out, went to 2 supermarkets today to see if they would have one and they don't.

                                            1. re: PotatoPuff
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                                              magiesmom RE: PotatoPuff Mar 15, 2014 01:37 PM

                                              You can't order?

                                              1. re: magiesmom
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                                                MartyB RE: magiesmom Mar 19, 2014 04:16 AM

                                                That was my immediate reaction too. If you are in a city like New York with many well regarded restaurants and takeouts then I would buy from the best and therefore impress. Sort of like the scene in Mrs Doubtfire when "she" presented the family with "her" first "hone cooked" dinner. As they say, the end justifies the means.

                                                Of course if you are not at a location where you can buy amazing prepared foods then, as they say, "never mind".

                                                1. re: MartyB
                                                  queenscook RE: MartyB Mar 19, 2014 07:35 AM

                                                  My reading is that the ordering that magiesmom was referring to was to order a raw standing rib roast, not to buy takeout.

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                                                    MartyB RE: queenscook Mar 19, 2014 10:52 AM

                                                    If the goal is the need to impress then takeout may fit the bill. Most people that I know when they make a specular spread for their guests do not make everything from scratch. Then again in my neck of the woods there are many excellent local options to choose from.

                                                    1. re: MartyB
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                                                      PotatoPuff RE: MartyB Mar 19, 2014 10:59 AM

                                                      I'm confident in my cooking abilities and see no reason to order takeout. It's not that I can't cook an impressive meal, it's that I'm not sure what would be impressive to them. I'm sure that home made will be cheaper and healthier too.

                                                      1. re: PotatoPuff
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                                                        avitrek RE: PotatoPuff Mar 19, 2014 11:40 AM

                                                        And more impressive if the takeout food is recognizable.

                                                    2. re: queenscook
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                                                      magiesmom RE: queenscook Apr 20, 2014 09:18 AM

                                                      Right

                                            2. re: AdinaA
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                                              femmevox RE: AdinaA Mar 15, 2014 02:30 PM

                                              You might consider braising some baby carrots, or whole carrots cut in ovals, alongside, for color.

                                              1. re: femmevox
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                                                PotatoPuff RE: femmevox Mar 16, 2014 09:02 AM

                                                That sounds awesome femmevox! Will do.

                                                1. re: PotatoPuff
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                                                  femmevox RE: PotatoPuff Mar 17, 2014 03:07 PM

                                                  Thanks! I'm also thinking your salad course (served after the beef) should have something purple in it. Edible flowers? Grilled radicchio?

                                                  I also thought you might want to make bouef a la mode. Essentially the same preparation as bourguinon, but in one piece. It might look more elegant sliced and napped with gravy, surrounded by the onions, mushrooms, carrots.

                                                  Make what you know will taste good. A lot of the elegance is in the presentation.

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                                            arifree RE: PotatoPuff Mar 19, 2014 02:40 AM

                                            One of my favorite dishes is Red cooked Beef. It's a chinese dish that you'll never get in a Chinese restaurant unless you worked in one (like I did). It's a stew made with beef, daikon radish, star anise, soy sauce, ginger and other spices.
                                            Here's a recipe to give you ideas
                                            http://redcook.net/2008/04/28/red-coo...

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                                              PotatoPuff RE: PotatoPuff Mar 19, 2014 10:22 AM

                                              Ok, so the final menu:

                                              Salad (type to be determined by what looks good in the store)

                                              Olive and leek tart

                                              Boeuf Bourguignon

                                              Couscous with currants

                                              Haricots verts or asparagus (whichever is fresher in the store)

                                              Challah

                                              Tapanade

                                              Some sort of cocktail with St. Germain

                                              For dessert I'm thinking an apple tarte (French style), and an olive oil cake with berries soaked in liquor.

                                              Aside from the olive oil cake and the cocktail I've made all of these recipes before.

                                              10 Replies
                                              1. re: PotatoPuff
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                                                AdinaA RE: PotatoPuff Mar 19, 2014 03:40 PM

                                                I want to eat dinner at PotatoPuff's house.

                                                1. re: AdinaA
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                                                  PotatoPuff RE: AdinaA Mar 19, 2014 05:13 PM

                                                  Awwww Adina, you are invited anytime you can make it to the Upper West Side! I'm serious.

                                                2. re: PotatoPuff
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                                                  DevorahL RE: PotatoPuff Mar 20, 2014 09:30 AM

                                                  This looks delicious, and the way I am visualizing it, the plates will be colorful and well-balanced. Good luck!

                                                  1. re: DevorahL
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                                                    PotatoPuff RE: DevorahL Mar 20, 2014 09:55 AM

                                                    Thanks Devorah!!!

                                                  2. re: PotatoPuff
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                                                    cheesecake17 RE: PotatoPuff Mar 20, 2014 02:09 PM

                                                    Yum!!! I wish that was my Shabbat dinner.
                                                    Will you share the olive tart recipe?

                                                    1. re: cheesecake17
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                                                      JackieR RE: cheesecake17 Mar 20, 2014 02:11 PM

                                                      Yes, please do!!

                                                      1. re: cheesecake17
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                                                        PotatoPuff RE: cheesecake17 Mar 21, 2014 07:13 AM

                                                        I don't use a specific recipe, just slicing leeks and the best olives I can find, layering it on some puff pastry with some egg wash and finishing salt. Very simple and rustic. I was very fortunate that this little nothing grocery store near me sometimes if you are lucky has kosher (under the star-K) olives IN THE REFRIGERATED SECTION!!!!!

                                                        1. re: PotatoPuff
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                                                          cheesecake17 RE: PotatoPuff Mar 21, 2014 11:03 AM

                                                          That sounds really good. I'm very lucky and can get good olives pretty much everywhere!

                                                      2. re: PotatoPuff
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                                                        helou RE: PotatoPuff Mar 20, 2014 03:06 PM

                                                        Sounds like a wonderfully balanced menu, both visually and flavors.

                                                        Would you share the olive leek tart recipe with us? I assume it's made without cheese, so it seems like a great option for a meat meal.

                                                        1. re: PotatoPuff
                                                          hill food RE: PotatoPuff Mar 20, 2014 03:44 PM

                                                          this olive oil cake is very easy and is probably best done a day or two before anyway and kept chilled.

                                                          http://www.chow.com/recipes/10760-oli...

                                                          I added rosemary, swapped the orange for about triple the lemon zest. I was out of amaretto, and I forget maybe I used southern comfort or bourbon.

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                                                          Chatsworth RE: PotatoPuff Mar 19, 2014 03:38 PM

                                                          Your final menu sounds great. I'm sure your guests will have a wonderful time (even if you and your husband are a little stressed!).

                                                          11 Replies
                                                          1. re: Chatsworth
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                                                            PotatoPuff RE: Chatsworth Mar 19, 2014 05:13 PM

                                                            Thanks Chatsworth! I'll let you know how it goes.

                                                            1. re: PotatoPuff
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                                                              Vinnie Vidimangi RE: PotatoPuff Mar 19, 2014 05:23 PM

                                                              Do your big guests keep kosher? "Where" are they from?

                                                              Let us know how it turns out!

                                                              1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
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                                                                PotatoPuff RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Mar 20, 2014 08:20 AM

                                                                Our guests do keep kosher and are shomer shabbos, so thankfully there won't be any awkwardness about that. I will let you know how it turns out.

                                                                1. re: PotatoPuff
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                                                                  Vinnie Vidimangi RE: PotatoPuff Mar 20, 2014 11:49 AM

                                                                  From what food tradition do they come?
                                                                  For eg. Have you ever served vegetables to a Czech? Fish to a Hungarian? Anything not way overcooked to a Pole?

                                                                  1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
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                                                                    arifree RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Mar 20, 2014 01:27 PM

                                                                    You can never go wrong with classic done right. :)

                                                                    I have to admit that it's probably not a good idea to experiment with spicy liquorice flavored red cooked beef on new company...but you should still try it for yourselves!

                                                                    1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
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                                                                      DeisCane RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Mar 21, 2014 03:30 AM

                                                                      Plenty of Hungarians eat fish--halaszle (fisheman's soup) is a national dish and rantott fogas (fried pike-perch) is available at nearly every Hungarian restaurant in Hungary.

                                                                      1. re: DeisCane
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                                                                        Vinnie Vidimangi RE: DeisCane Mar 22, 2014 12:56 AM

                                                                        I am from Galicia (Poland, not Spain) and it is always good to learn about the rest of the world.

                                                                        None of the Hungarian troughs - er, restaurants- that I had frequented - and were some of them ever authentic- ever had fish on the menu.
                                                                        My understanding from two good Huingarian professional chefs - not observant- who are now back in Hungary is that fish generally is only eaten on New Years. Some fish from the salmon family from Lake Balaton is preferred.
                                                                        The antipathy to fish surprised me. I am pleased to learn otherwise

                                                                        1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
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                                                                          DeisCane RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Mar 23, 2014 02:46 AM

                                                                          I don't think there are any salmon or related in Balaton. The primary fish eaten from Balaton are carp and pike-perch.

                                                                          There is a slight antipathy to fish, though. It is a land-locked country after all!

                                                                          1. re: DeisCane
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                                                                            Vinnie Vidimangi RE: DeisCane Mar 23, 2014 10:49 AM

                                                                            From the NYT. My feeble memory suggests that my contacts were talking about fogas and knew so little about fish that they agreed with me when I suggested, in guessing what a fogas is , that it is a form of "whitefish". Whitefish, as in smoked, is a salmonoid.

                                                                            Lake Balaton, Where Hungary Summers
                                                                            By Anne Marshall Zwack; Anne Marshall Zwack, who lives in Florence, is a frequent visitor to Hungary.
                                                                            Published: June 3, 1990
                                                                            EMAIL
                                                                            PRINT
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                                                                            Hungary has the largest freshwater lake in Central Europe: Balaton. Shaped like a 50-mile-long paprika, of the pointed piquant variety, Lake Balaton is about 60 miles from Budapest by way of the M7 highway and the same distance from the Austrian border.

                                                                            Balaton is not only Central Europe's largest lake, but it is also one of the shallowest, the water gently sloping down to 11 feet. The sun rapidly warms the shallow waters, and bathing is pleasurable from May to September. In winter the lake freezes over, and skating and ice yachting take over.

                                                                            The Balaton area used to be better known as a spa, and in the last century Balatonfured and the hot springs of Heviz nearby were fashionable watering places. The lake waters are, in fact, diluted mineral water silky in texture and teeming with fish, especially the fogas, translated on menus as pike-perch, while its baby brother is called sullo. Other fish include carp, pike, bream, and the razor fish that migrate in shoals at the beginning of October. Residents eat these pickeled with onions or fried over an open campfire.

                                                                            One of the most popular dishes in Hungary is the halaszle, or fisherman's soup, traditionally served on Christmas Eve. This is a kind of chowder made with as many varieties of fish as possible and paprika. The main fishing season is from October to April, but anglers can be seen sitting on benches on stilts among the rushes on the lakeside year. Fishing licences can be obtained from the Ibusz travel agency in Balatonfured for about $2 a day (figured at the rate of .017 cents to 1 forint) or $6.50 a week.

                                                                            1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
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                                                                              DeisCane RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Mar 24, 2014 02:22 AM

                                                                              I stick by my earlier description. :-)

                                                                              Fogas (pike-perch) is in the Percidae family, while freshwater whitefish (that which is typically smoked/cured in the appetizing style) is indeed in the salmonidae family. I've never seen fogas smoked, probably because it is not as fatty as those sable/whitefish.

                                                                              *Our family has a house on the Balaton and we go there every summer.

                                                                      2. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
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                                                                        PotatoPuff RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Mar 21, 2014 07:13 AM

                                                                        The husband and wife each come from separate food traditions, so I've got a broader range here.

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                                                                CloggieGirl RE: PotatoPuff Mar 22, 2014 08:36 PM

                                                                Nu? How'd it go?

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                                                                  PotatoPuff RE: PotatoPuff Mar 23, 2014 01:41 PM

                                                                  Ok, so here's how it went:
                                                                  -Most of the food turned out really well, with a few exceptions: the olive oil cake was too dense and the boeuf didn't look very pretty.
                                                                  -The guest seemed a bit uncomfortable with the food, he seems to be a cholent and kugel kind of guy. He gravitated to things that looked familiar like challah and haricots verts (green beans to him). Neither him nor his wife were interested in the French beer, wine or the cocktail I made with the St. Germain. I'm still glad I made French food though because how can you really distinguish yourself with cholent and kugel? I do, if I may say so, make an excellent cholent and kugel, but so can loads of people. Also, thankfully, his wife really liked all of the food (she isn't Ashkenazi) and seemed really excited with all of the dishes. She was shy in the beginning but then I had a great conversation with her and I'm sure they will come back because she seemed to have a great time.
                                                                  -Basically I think it went well, and for next time I might make something even safer than this but I'm glad I stuck with the French food. I think they will be back!

                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                  1. re: PotatoPuff
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                                                                    MartyB RE: PotatoPuff Mar 23, 2014 02:00 PM

                                                                    > I think they will be back!

                                                                    Nothing like a free meal :)

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                                                                      cheesecake17 RE: PotatoPuff Mar 24, 2014 06:55 AM

                                                                      Sounds like you had a great time! I wouldn't take it personally, a lot of people choose not to drink at all. (I'm sure it had nothing to do with what you served)

                                                                      1. re: cheesecake17
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                                                                        PotatoPuff RE: cheesecake17 Mar 24, 2014 09:41 AM

                                                                        Right cheesecake! I didn't take it personally. I have to say though that the cocktail was AWESOME! Probably my favorite part of the meal.

                                                                      2. re: PotatoPuff
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                                                                        CloggieGirl RE: PotatoPuff Mar 24, 2014 12:39 PM

                                                                        I'm pretty sure my husband would also be just as happy with the exact same cholent and kugel every week but is also fine with trying new things. If I had to have the same shabbat lunch every week, I'd be so bored and annoyed.

                                                                        If you need to fill any seats at your next French meal, I'd be happy to come over. :-D

                                                                        1. re: CloggieGirl
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                                                                          PotatoPuff RE: CloggieGirl Mar 24, 2014 01:08 PM

                                                                          CloggieGirl, if you are on the Upper West Side I would love to have you! Totally serious on that.

                                                                          1. re: PotatoPuff
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                                                                            CloggieGirl RE: PotatoPuff Mar 24, 2014 05:10 PM

                                                                            I AM on the Upper West Side! How can we make a Chowhound meetup happen?

                                                                            1. re: CloggieGirl
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                                                                              PotatoPuff RE: CloggieGirl Mar 24, 2014 07:26 PM

                                                                              Hi Cloggie! Would LOVE to meet you IRL. Can you think of a safe way to exchange contact info? Which this site had private messaging.

                                                                              1. re: PotatoPuff
                                                                                hill food RE: PotatoPuff Mar 24, 2014 07:42 PM

                                                                                you can tuck contact info on your profile. a lot of people will use: me_at_email.com rather than me@email.com so trolling bots don't pick it up, I clearly state my fake FB user name (sigh, so many layers of lies, I'm like a phyllo of identity...) in case anyone REALLY wants to contact me. so far in all this time only 2 have bothered.

                                                                                1. re: PotatoPuff
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                                                                                  CloggieGirl RE: PotatoPuff Mar 24, 2014 08:47 PM

                                                                                  My screen name here is the same as the gmail account I use for junkmail. I'll keep an eye out for real email from you and then respond from my normal email. Sound good?

                                                                                  I don't like having my regular email in my online profiles to keep some degree of privacy. I don't post anything I wouldn't want on the front of the NY Times, but it's still nice. I have had friends ask if this screen name was mine and have realized from posts that I know some of the posters. It would be funny if it turns out we already know each other.

                                                                                  1. re: CloggieGirl
                                                                                    hill food RE: CloggieGirl Mar 24, 2014 11:00 PM

                                                                                    CG - I can definitely agree with that approach. my birth date and place, where I live, what I do - all lies, sort of. I keep a spreadsheet as I forget - OK so I wasn't born in 1908. the only thing I don't lie about is my education, which isn't stellar, but it's mine.

                                                                                    1. re: CloggieGirl
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                                                                                      PotatoPuff RE: CloggieGirl Mar 25, 2014 12:36 PM

                                                                                      Ok CloggieGirl, I'm going to email you now with your screenname at gmail. If you don't see anything let me know on this thread. It would be funny if we knew each other!

                                                                                      1. re: PotatoPuff
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                                                                                        CloggieGirl RE: PotatoPuff Mar 25, 2014 01:53 PM

                                                                                        Just so the rest of Chowhound isn't left in suspense, we have made contact and have a number of friends in common. It's a small [Jewish] world after all...

                                                                                        1. re: CloggieGirl
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                                                                                          PotatoPuff RE: CloggieGirl Mar 26, 2014 08:49 AM

                                                                                          Yes! And if any other Upper West Side hounds want in I'd love to meet you too!

                                                                                          1. re: CloggieGirl
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                                                                                            DeisCane RE: CloggieGirl Mar 27, 2014 01:58 AM

                                                                                            Very cool. If it were 2006 or earlier, I would be raising my hand for the invite as well. :)

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                                                                              Vinnie Vidimangi RE: PotatoPuff Mar 24, 2014 06:09 PM

                                                                              My suggested French cuisine menu for the next time you have your special guests for dinner.

                                                                              Bruschetta polonaise- pain de siegle avec graines de carvi, graisses fondues
                                                                              Bijoux de poulet a la mode de l’est avec pain
                                                                              Salade Lyonnais gribenons avec pain
                                                                              Essence doree de poulet avec pain
                                                                              Pomme de terre Lyonnaise
                                                                              Fricasse de poulet a la flamme eternelle avec pain
                                                                              Compote, pains assortis
                                                                              Douce de pains, lait aux amandes
                                                                              ……………………………………………………..
                                                                              Raisin Jews Rashi
                                                                              ……………………………………………………..
                                                                              Pepto Bismol Originalle pour le pain

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                                                                                PotatoPuff RE: PotatoPuff Apr 17, 2014 08:36 AM

                                                                                Follow up: They are coming again tomorrow! Success!

                                                                                11 Replies
                                                                                1. re: PotatoPuff
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                                                                                  DeisCane RE: PotatoPuff Apr 17, 2014 08:59 AM

                                                                                  Mazel tov.

                                                                                  1. re: DeisCane
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                                                                                    PotatoPuff RE: DeisCane Apr 17, 2014 12:51 PM

                                                                                    :)

                                                                                  2. re: PotatoPuff
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                                                                                    cheesecake17 RE: PotatoPuff Apr 17, 2014 05:24 PM

                                                                                    What's on the menu?

                                                                                    I'm also having guests. Lots of cooking happening!

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                                                                                      PotatoPuff RE: cheesecake17 Apr 18, 2014 08:39 AM

                                                                                      The menu for this time (Passover Shabbat dinner) is:

                                                                                      -Olives, pickles, eggplant dip
                                                                                      -Salad with homemade apple cider dressing

                                                                                      -Chicken with mushrooms/rosemary/balsamic reduction
                                                                                      -Matzo stuffing
                                                                                      -Roasted zucchini
                                                                                      -Roasted tomatoes

                                                                                      -Mini pears poached in spiced wine and honey
                                                                                      -Strawberries
                                                                                      -Chocolates
                                                                                      -Maybe a cake that someone is bringing

                                                                                      1. re: PotatoPuff
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                                                                                        CloggieGirl RE: PotatoPuff Apr 18, 2014 08:57 AM

                                                                                        Sounds delicious!

                                                                                        1. re: PotatoPuff
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                                                                                          cheesecake17 RE: PotatoPuff Apr 18, 2014 12:23 PM

                                                                                          Sounds delicious!
                                                                                          I would love the chicken recipe when you have a chance

                                                                                          1. re: cheesecake17
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                                                                                            PotatoPuff RE: cheesecake17 Apr 23, 2014 09:38 AM

                                                                                            No particular recipe, just cook chicken, crimini mushrooms, fresh rosemary, tons of garlic in olive oil balsamic vinegar, reduce the sauce.

                                                                                            1. re: PotatoPuff
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                                                                                              cheesecake17 RE: PotatoPuff Apr 23, 2014 11:13 AM

                                                                                              Thanks, will give it a try

                                                                                              1. re: PotatoPuff
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                                                                                                susiejane RE: PotatoPuff Apr 23, 2014 02:50 PM

                                                                                                chicken pieces or boneless breasts?

                                                                                                1. re: susiejane
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                                                                                                  PotatoPuff RE: susiejane Apr 24, 2014 10:34 AM

                                                                                                  I usually use boneless but I'm sure it would be good with either.

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                                                                                              ferret RE: PotatoPuff Apr 18, 2014 01:00 PM

                                                                                              I made a Pesach gnocchi for one of the seders because I was matzo-stuffinged out. Huge hit.

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