Stress Free Dinner Parties (eBOOK)

$5.99

STRESS FREE DINNER PARTIES. EBOOK. BOOK ONE IN THE MS BLAELOCK’S BOOKS SERIES OF PRACTICAL SELF-HELP BOOKS. Is inviting friends for dinner scarier than organising an international peace treaty? Then you need lazy stay at home socialite Alexandria Blaelock to guide you step-by-step. Or get it free with any Stree Free Dinner Parties merchandise.

Description

Do you think inviting friends for dinner is scarier than organising an international peace treaty?

Then you need someone to guide you step-by-step through your Dinner Party preparations. And lazy stay at home socialite Alexandria Blaelock is just that someone. Drawing on her event management experience, she’ll tell you:

  • Who to invite, how to get them there, keep them entertained and make them leave.
  • What makes a balanced menu, dietary requirements, serving sizes, matching drinks.
  • When to accept the comfort of modern convenience, and how to look like a better cook than you are.
  • Why your outfit needs to be practical as well as attractive, and what to consider when you choose it.
  • How to set your budget, prepare your home, and make sure you have the stuff you need.

You’ll learn what you need to know, to have the confidence you need so you can relax and enjoy your night too.

Also available in paper and hardback.

For signed copies and bulk orders, please contact orders@bluemerebooks.com.

Introduction 1 PART ONE: Plan Your Dinner Party 7 Budget 9 Guests 13 Theme 27 Food 31 Drinks 39 Other Needs 55 PART TWO: Prepare For Your Dinner Party 65 3 – 4 Weeks Before 67 1 – 2 Weeks Before 77 The Day Before 89 The Day 93 The Day After 105 APPENDIX A: Notes for Dinner Guests 107 APPENDIX B: What Alexandria Does 119 APPENDIX C: Our Italian Themed Dinner Party 123 Glossary 137 Bibliography 139 Index 141 Author’s Note 144 About the Author 145

Introduction

Hello! Thanks for buying my book. I hope it helps you plan and host a Dinner Party that’s talked about for decades – for all the right reasons.

Dinner Parties can be awesome get-togethers celebrating friendship, pleasure and beauty; they shouldn’t be as horrifyingly stressful as trying to get into an Ivy League University. They should be an exciting and enjoyable puzzle.

And with good planning and preparation, you can relax and enjoy your guest’s company from the moment they arrive.

Don’t be fooled by the agony and ecstasy you see on reality television shows like MasterChef and My Kitchen Rules.

First of all, those shows aren’t reality, and secondly Dinner Parties don’t take place within those kinds of constraints.

They’re as simple or as complicated as you want to make them. You can take as much or as little time as you like – 20 minutes to carefully plate up, or slap the food down in a millisecond or less.

You won’t even have a chef judging the food. Unless of course you’re friends with one and have invited them. But I’m inclined to think any chef would love it if you just made them scrambled eggs on toast, because you made it for them.

I can’t imagine some of the celebrity chefs I’ve seen on television get invited to many people’s homes to eat – Gordon Ramsay is unlikely to receive an invitation to eat in my home!

Aside from how grumpy he always seems, I don’t think he’d like my simple style of cooking.

But take heart. Expectations about entertaining are in a constant state of change.

Before the nineteenth century, for example, Dinner Party service was à la française – the French or family style, in which all dishes are presented at the same time and guests help themselves. This is similar to the modern buffet and is a very practical approach when you’ve little in the way of furniture.

At the turn of the nineteenth-century, the Russian ambassador is reputed to have introduced a new style of service, à la russe, in which food is brought to the table in staged courses. Most modern restaurant and Dinner Party meals now proceed in this Russian style.

It’s only a few decades since Dinner Parties were truly formal affairs, with dinner suits and bow ties. Not that those can’t be fun too, but one does expect a stultifying degree of good manners and a separate dining room for that.

Mrs Beeton was entirely correct when she claimed “Dining is the privilege of civilisation.”

In those days, it was the privilege of the wealthy; the hostess set the date and determined the distinguished guests, her Cook set the menu and prepared the food, and her Butler more or less coordinated everything else.

The hostess received her guests safe in the knowledge her household machinery ensured all the arrangements were perfect, and she merely had to be charming.

In those Halcyon Dinner Party Days, dinners were always large and formal, contrasted with an “informal” little dinner for up to eight guests with whom you were intimate.

The manners were still formal but there was less ceremony, fewer courses and the best china was not used. The dress code would be lounge suits rather than white tie.

Modern life centres on simple, informal and integrated arrangements. Many of us don’t have a separate kitchen, dining or living rooms – just one room, possibly delineated by tasteful area rugs.

One by one, the formal barriers between people have slipped away, and Dinner Party boundaries have moved a little to accommodate those changes too.

This book suggests an informal approach to Dinner Parties – assuming that’s not an oxymoron of its own. It aims to maximise the time spent with your guests and minimise the time spent in the kitchen wrestling with food production.

This approach is helped by an open-plan layout; you can chat with your guests while you plate up, and maybe someone will transfer the plates from countertop to table.

I recommend you start by reading this book cover to cover to get a feeling for the contents, and then go over the overall planning and scheduling elements a second time.

We all have different upbringings and educations so some of it might need more thought than other bits.

Once you’re comfortable with the overall process, you can start planning your own Dinner Party.

I describe the process as if one person is taking care of the whole event. It’s much easier when you’ve someone to help, but you can host a fabulous Dinner Party alone if you limit your aspirations and plan it out very well.

Your meal service may consist of any number of courses, depending on your time and ingenuity. At the very least, you should consider five courses:

Apéritif: pre-dinner drink with light snacks pending the arrival of all guests.

Appetiser: a small first course at table.

Main: a second, larger course with sides.

Dessert: a small sweet course.

Digestif: Coffee (or tea) with a fortified wine, liqueur or distillation, and a little sweet treat or chocolate.

You can reduce this by combining the apéritif and appetiser, or combine dessert with Digestif, or both.

Conversely, you could expand this by serving any number of individual dishes sequentially as many of the larger set meals do:

  • Three appetiser courses (e.g., seafood, soup and salad).
  • Three mains (e.g., fish, fowl [bird] and field [pasture animals like cows or sheep]).
  • Three desserts (e.g., cream, frozen and fruit).

But for your own sanity, take Emily Post’s advice and offer no more than eight courses including apéritif and Digestif!

While Mrs Beeton made some potential seasonal menu suggestions (both à la française and à la russe), they won’t work for a solo host and don’t suit modern tastes – Calf’s Head, Tongue and Brains anyone?

This book uses the example of a five-course dinner for six people. It draws against Marcella Hazan’s “Sumptuous Summer Dinner” menu from her excellent cookbook, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. My versions of the recipes shown below are contained in Appendix C: Our Italian Themed Dinner.

Apéritif: ricotta and anchovy crostini with Prosecco, (optional Campari).

Appetiser: penne with roasted pepper sauce and Prosecco.

Main: pan-roasted veal and green bean salad with Pinot Grigio.

Dessert: mangoes and strawberries in sweet white wine with Moscato.

Digestif: coffee (or tea), amaretto and biscotti.

Seeing as you’re not looking at a print book, you don’t need to worry so much about dog-eared pages or split spines.

But, we know you’re probably going to read in the bathroom, or while you’re eating lunch… So, just from a phone/tablet hygiene and safety point of view, please wash your hands, and don’t drop the phone! Might be an idea to clean the screen now and again as well.

 

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Returns are only accepted for faulty items when you contact us at orders@bluemerebooks.com within 7 days of receiving the book (according to the tracking). Use the subject “returns,” include your name, order number, reason for return, and photographs of faulty item. We’ll refund or resend – your choice.

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