Saturday, October 2, 2010

Project Food Blog Challenge#3: Luxury Dinner Party

Thanks for all of you who voted for me in challenge 2! I'm now on Challenge 3, which is to hold a Luxury Dinner Party for friends and family. I LOVE planning dinner parties... the only problem is that my husband thinks I get a little 'crazy' and stress out when I plan them. When we do have people over my husbands wishes are that we have a simple dinner menu so I don't usually plan menus such as this. When planning a menu try to make items that can be prepared a few hours or a day in advance. Dessert is a great menu item to prepare in advance. In our menu the veggies were served cold so they were prepared before the appetizer was made.
Here is the menu I came up with:
When planning a dinner party I try to have a theme with my food.  Here is a visual way to look at it (I love being married to a cartographer!):

I had toyed with other ideas for a dinner party - fall, farewell to summer, seasons, etc., but I kept coming back to a Dinner World Tour theme. Themes can be fun, for instance, somewhere in our main course a guest simply stated that she'd gone back to Italy (I'd left the appetizers on the table). I searched for recipes from different continents for the menu, and honestly the only really shaky menu item is Australia. However, if you have an idea and can come up with a reasonable argument as to why it belongs just go with it. I simply said that the Salmon with Soy glaze is a mix of Western and Eastern flavors and in my research Australian food combines the flavors of Asia and Europe. Nobody questioned me on it - so say it like you mean it. In reality I need to learn more about Australian cuisine from a source I trust!

So back to this map... I used different colors that were coordinated with the napkins that we used.
I had planned to have the couple/person who was using that color of napkin to read a little about the cuisine of the area of the world, but time got away from me and so I had to drop that idea. There are so many little things you can do when planning an event, but you may not be able to complete everything (that's okay). Prioritize items and decide which can be dropped in case you run out of time.
I also highly suggest using disposable dishes (I used these). It makes clean up so much easier! Another tip, if a guest brings something such as roses, use them in your table decor if at all possible! I replaced the candles in the middle with the fresh cut roses. I know it made my guest feel special that I used them, and I really appreciated her bringing the roses.
Just one more tip on table decor - the table under this table cloth is actually white. If using a tablecloth such as this and need another layer, you don't need to run out and buy another table cloth - for example, we used a twin navy sheet (no one knew)!
We were having wonderful weather, so we ate outside on the deck. Eating outside is a great way of hiding the mess in the kitchen! I am a messy cook and we don't have a formal dining room. This was the perfect way to not have all the guests see the dishes piled up. Speaking of guests:
Here they are: on the left in the back is Lisa (my friend who helped me make tamales), her husband and in front is Lisa's mom and Lisa's daughter. On the right side is my husband, me and my mom. Our moms are friends as well so it works out great (our mother's spouses were not able to attened.) There were also 2 toddlers:
 This shot is at the end of the meal.
What's a dinner party without food - here's our menu in photos:
 Tomato and Basil Crostinis
Garlic and Parmesan Crostini
Beverage: Mock Champagne Punch (we don't drink alcoholic beverages - this is a 1:1 mixture of white grape juice and ginger ale)

Salmon with Soy Glaze with Rice and African Spiced Vegetable Salad
 Chicken with Soy Glaze with Rice and African Spiced Vegetable Salad

 Pudim (Flan)

Now for a recipe - I'm going to let you in on a secret here - the fish and chicken only call for 3 ingredients. Super easy, but my friend (who doesn't really like fish) said it was delicious.  Be sure you know allergies your guests may have or food they will not eat when at all possible. I asked before they came - and only 2 chose chicken over fish. 
Salmon (or chicken) with Soy Glaze:
From Gourmet Today
You'll need 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
and 3/4 cup soy sauce (I like using reduced sodium soy sauce.) 
Combine in a pan, bring to a boil and let reduce for about 10 minutes. Reserve about half of the glaze in a separate container. Brush salmon with some of the remaining glaze. Let sit for 5 minutes. I had marinated the chicken in a soy sauce/maple syrup mixture for 4 hours.
Place fish and chicken on a double broiler (or a makeshift one like show above)
Brush with glaze again. 
Broil on high (450-500 degrees) for 8 minutes. At this point the fish should be cooked (120 degrees). Remove, flip the chicken over and cook for another 8 minutes. You can add the fish after you flip the chicken so both are finished cooking at the same time. I let the chicken finish cooking while plating and delivering the fish. Chicken should be 160 degrees with a meat thermometer.
Drizzle reserved glaze over the cooked chicken and fish and rice.
Serve warm.


  1. I just love the cartographer/luxury food combo! And the napkins! And that there were 2 toddlers there (my luxury dinner challenge). I'm bookmarking to vote for you :)

  2. Hi Crystal -- Thanks so much for your message! I'm VERY sad I didn't make it to challenge 3 too :( BUT I'm really glad you did and I'll be voting for you the whole way! Your dinner party post looks awesome. I still ended up having a Thai dinner party for my family and will post about it at some point without all the rules, if the photos are good. It was a good excuse to enjoy a fun meal with family, but I really didn't feel like (nor did I need to) photographing everything. I left it up to my 11 and 13 year old nieces to photograph whatever they wanted, so I'll see what I end up with :) Well, congratulations and GOOD LUCK to you!!!

    Shelly, Nibbles of Tidbits

  3. Nicely done! I made crostini for my party too! (I took the opportunity of being cut to just relax and enjoy myself with my friends and delicious food, and NOT taking pictures.) :)

  4. love the concept, that is such a creative idea!


  5. OK, I'm back during the voting days and off to vote! :)

  6. mmmmmm wish I was there....! Your table cloth is gorgeous and your entire setting was wonderful! I love it! - a big red heart for you! Megs @

  7. sounds like a wonderful meal to me!

  8. Nice entry. You embraced the "exotic flavors and new tastes" and set a lovely table.

  9. Everything looks wonderful Crystal! You did a great job! Best of luck for this round!

  10. Sounds like a tour I'd love to take! What a thoughtful meal...looks and sounds delicious. Best of luck in this round =)

  11. I love that you cooked chicken too! I am not a fish eater myself. You would have made my night having a choice. And the crostini - YUM! You have my vote!

  12. Very creative and the food looks absolutely delicious! You've got a vote from me :-)

  13. Everything looks fabulous! Hope we both make it to the next round! :-) You have my vote!

  14. Love a themed dinner. I live in Australia and I think you got the salmon part right, we're big on seafood. Although you would have done just as well with meat pies, sausage rolls, lamington, pavlova etc :) Not exaclty dinner party fare but yummy nonetheless. Great party and thanks for visiting me, off to cast the vote now.

  15. The main dish looks yummy, nice party & wish you luck :)

  16. The menu looks tasty! Too bad you ran out of time, your idea about the napkins was cute. Good luck in round 3!

  17. looks delicious and I love your simple cooking style! I voted for you

  18. Love your menu, congrats for pulling it off, have my vote!

  19. Great post - you've got my vote!!

    PS Thanks for stopping by my blog! :)

  20. There's really nothing better than eating outside! And I loved the idea with the napkins! You've got my vote :)

  21. looks like a great dinner! simple is often so delicious :)

  22. Hi Crystal! Looks great! I still remember learning to eat chicken salad pitas with you in Carrolton. :) Good luck with this challenge. I'm rooting for you!

  23. My family members love food and they always try new food items. Few days ago threw a dinner party for them at one of popular San Francisco venues. There I hired best chefs who prepared delicious food. Everyone was glad to taste different dishes.


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