Dec 28, 2007

Sit-Down Dinner Menu & Table Tips

No, you don’t have to make everything from scratch. Your guests will never notice if you cut a few corners and take advantage of packaged ingredients. You can save more than an hour of prep time by relying on frozen pearl onions (no peeling!), presliced mushrooms, precut stew meat and carrots, and pre-bagged lettuce. How about a special touch for this fabulous holiday celebration - a gift of light from MaidenShade using a NightLight to mark each guest's place? Customization is a snap, and we are happy to help make your dinner unforgetable! Just ask to see some of the possibilities and find out about a discount for mentioning this blog.

Lettuce, Orange, and Pecan Salad
Beef Bourguignonne
Buttery Mashed Potatoes
Broccoli Rabe with Currant Vinaigrette
Ice Cream Bombe

Shopping List
3 1/2 to 4 pounds stew or chuck meat
1 bottle dry red wine (such as Côtes du Rhône)
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 14.5-ounce cans low-sodium chicken broth
1 small onion
1 whole carrot
1 head garlic
1 1-pound bag carrots, preferably baby cut
2 sticks unsalted butter1 pound fresh or frozen pearl onions
1 pound sliced button mushrooms
8 russet potatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1 quart whole milk
3 bunches (about 3 pounds) broccoli rabe
1 12-ounce jar red currant jelly
1 1.5-ounce jar red pepper flakes
1 8-ounce jar Dijon mustard
3 heads Bibb or Boston lettuce
2 navel oranges
3 ounces pecan halves
4 ounces goat cheese (optional)
1 shallot
1 8-ounce carton orange juice
1 12.7-ounce bottle white wine vinegar
2 pints vanilla ice cream2 pints chocolate ice cream
1 7.5-ounce bag hard peppermint candies
1 customized NightLight for each guest


What to Sip
Tradition holds that whatever wine goes in the stew should go in the glass. That’s fine, but according to wine expert Andrea Robinson, a better match for rich beef stew and bitter broccoli rabe is a more assertive Rioja (such as Bodegas Montecillo Rioja Reserva, $16) or a Petite Syrah (like Bogle, $10).

Preparing for Your Sit-Down Dinner

Two Days Before
Make the Ice Cream Bombe.
Select the music.

The Day Before
Set the table.
Clip cuttings from your yard for a fresh look to your table's center piece.
Use a NightLight from MaidenShade as a placecard holder and gift for each guest.
Clean the living room, dining room, and bathrooms; edit the medicine cabinet, in case of nosy guests.
Make the Beef Bourguignonne.

Early in the Day
Unmold the Ice Cream Bombe onto a platter and return to freezer.
Make the salad and the vinaigrette; refrigerate them separately.

Two Hours Before Guests Arrive
Mash the potatoes; transfer to oven.One Hour Before Guests Arrive
Heat the stew.
Make sure the dishwasher is empty.
Change into your party clothes.

15 Minutes Before Guests Arrive
Light the candles and turn on the music.
Set out some chilled sparkling water.
Uncork the wine.

15 Minutes Before Dinner
Toss the salad.
After the First Course
Make the broccoli rabe.After Dinner But Before Dessert
Place a load of dishes in the dishwasher.
Sprinkle the candy over the Ice Cream Bombe.

After the Last Guest Leaves
Clean the dishes before going to bed so you don’t have to face them in the morning.


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