Ideas for a little dinner party for a friend.

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by brulo, Jun 23, 2017.

  1. brulo

    brulo

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    So, the thing is that a good friend of mine knows that I'm pursuing the idea of studying culinary arts and tonight while having a some beers with another friend (I usually cook for then and they like what I do) asked me "how much would you charge me to cook for ten people at my apartment".

    This could be, literally, my first gig as a cook (aside for making fries eons ago in a local club).

    The idea is to present him three menu options on Monday. We said I could avoid dessert since we can buy some nice pastries and have some coffee. But I want starters and mains.

    Since I've never cooked for ten people (at most, let's say, 6 people in a really relaxed environment, all friends of family) I'm think on menus that can include part of preparations to be made in advance and use his kitchen for some final touches and plating.

    I would like to hear some ideas from you guys, as crazy as you want, or as simple and effective as you prefer.

    Maybe we can do a nice back and forth in the upcoming days until I find options I feel comfortable with.

    I'm pretty open to learn new recipes and try them to see how they go.

    Some ideas coming from the too of my head:

    - (main) mushroom risotto (I have some cool Patagonic mushrooms and I feel confident about my risotto). Downside is that I've already prepared that for him and some friends before, I feel a little cheap repeating.

    - (mail) ravioli: could be with regular, black or green pasta, filled with salmon or pumpkin or any other thing. For the sauce could be a cream with the same mushrooms I've mentioned and/or Spanish saffron and/or a couple of cool cheeses to give body and flavor,anyway I wouldn't put ALL those things together in a sauce. Also I would homemade the pasta.

    - (starter) a cool soup. Could be pumpkin with pesto (I've done this before and it's pretty cool) here we are staring winter! I hear ideas for other cool soups.

    - (starter) cheese table, variety of cheeses and some local and gourmet goodies, along with some good breads (I should step up my baking game) and some berries. What I don't like about this is that might seem a little vague, and very summmer-y

    - (starter) grated portobello mushrooms filled with... Something to be determined :)

    - (starter) lentils casserole with chorizo and some spice, could be a main but I don't want a stew for main, this would be served in small portions but could be a little too strong for a starter.

    As you can see my Italian heritage is pretty evident. Also I didn't eat meat for quite some time, so I didn't cook meat in quite some time, but I used to cook pork tenderloin or chicken breast.

    Im open to suggestions, something that moves me out of my comfort zone and makes me investigate, learn and practice something new.

    Also, any suggestions and tips to avoid freaking out when plating for ten people :)

    What do you think?
     
  2. someday

    someday

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    Cooking for 10 people is a lot different than cooking for 2-4. You want to keep it executable so that you won't get overwhelmed...try to think of some things that can be pre plated a few minutes before they sit..

    Also, start with an outline of your menu and then work inwards. Something like this:

    Canapes/table food: Something like warm pita bread (homemade or bought...maybe brushed with garlic oil and warmed gently). Even some nice lavash crackers mgiht be good...with some warm marinated olives, hummus...some assorted cheeses and charcuterie. Things like that. Have something for them to nibble on during cocktails before the dinner starts. 

    You don't say where you are, but I'm assuming southern hemisphere since you said it's about to be Winter. 

    You could do an amuse bouche. Something 1 or 2 bites, fresh, vibrant. Fish crudo (if you can get good fish), oysters, or something like that. Something bright, fresh and delicious to open up the palate. Something that goes with champagne, lol. 

    Cold Salad: Marinated beet salad...citrus, nuts, cheese (goat, blue, whatever). 

    Soup: Anything you want here...squash/pumpkin bisque always a hit...maybe a mushroom bisque. Shellfish bisque. If you really want to stretch you could try a consomme. Could be done ahead of time...

    Pasta/Risotto: Again, anything could really go here. I would just avoid repetition, so don't do a mushroom soup and a mushroom risotto. Seems obvious, but....remember with filled pasta the filling and the pasta are the stars, not really the sauce or garnish. Simpler is better, showcase the ingredients. 

    Fish/seafood: Could be as simple as a couple of seared scallops...

    Meat/main: I assume you are plating in the kitchen. It might help to make 1 big something as opposed to 10 small something (for example, a roast loin of pork that you slice and plate, rather than 10 pork chops). Pork tenderloin Wellington? Lamb leg? 
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017
  3. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    A big factor here is how will you serve? Family style or plated? I also like to keep in mind that I can only roast one or two things and use the stove top for one or two things. I can only cook to order one thing and expect it to be good, I can't make risotto and something else that needs constant attention so if you're playing starters while stirring risotto that can be a problem without employing some help. These are the types of things I consider.

    I also like to pick a theme, I usually do this by choosing one dish that I know I want to make and then create a whole menu around that. So let's say ravioli for example, and based on your season I'd go with pumpkin ravioli with sage and brown butter sauce. Perfect! My theme would be an Italian dinner, which makes the pasta a primo dish.

    I would begin with an appetizer platter with cheeses, prosciutto, sooressata, marinated olives, grapes, spiced nuts, breads and crackers. Guests will be mingling, drinking wine. As they gather to the table they will find a crostini waiting for them, topped with sautéed rapini and shaved pecorino.

    Primo will be the ravioli. They will be prepared in advance and all you have to do is sautée them gently in the sage and brown butter sauce à la minute.

    While they eat that you will he plating the main meal, secondi. I don't know how comfortable you are with meat but I like to cook cuts that I can stick in the oven and forget about them for a few hours like pork shoulder roast, or a pork belly. Pork tenderloin or turkey breast are nice but they are fussy and you have to be really careful about temperature and not over cooking. I'd go with pork belly and I have some cool recipes for that if you're interested.

    Mashed potatoes (white or sweet), and some Brussels sprouts to go with it.

    Salad is served after the secondi at an Italian feast and I'd go with roasted carrot, radicchio, arugula, and avocado.
     
  4. brulo

    brulo

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    Lots of cool ideas there!

    I'm not very fond on seafood or fish for this project since my friend have an open kitchen contiguous to the dining space. The apartment is big and the kitchen is nice but it's not a separate room, so anything not to strong in smells would be better.

    You reminded me that I love to make hummus (and the other classic middle eastern eggplant puree), so those could be options.

    When you mentioned olives it reminded me I wanted to make tapenade for quite some time and always forgot.

    Maybe I could combine those things in a variety of tiny bruschettas.

    Wellington was something that came out yesterday when he asked me on the spot what would I serve. It's a super classic dish I've never tried before (and I should). I don't know how much of it can be made I advance.

    Thanks a lot for your input!
     
  5. brulo

    brulo

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    Woah! Love this!

    To break down a little the response, I still don't know if I'm going to serve family or plated. First could be easier, and I imagine something like a really filled up lasagna, but as an experience I would prefer plated so I have the chance to put the dishes together and experiment a little on that.

    When you say prepare the ravioli in advance I assume you don't mean to have them also cooked, right? or is that a possibility too? Having them ready to boil it's out of the question (I won't be making the pasta in situ!) but I didn't tought of having them already cooked just waiting for the sauce and a warm-up. Sage and brown butter sounds really interesting and lighter than cream.

    One curious thing is that here (answering the question from Someday I'm in Argentina) when we eat a filled pasta it's usually the main course, since we eat a lot and we don't have room for much else, could be interesting to serve smaller portions and have some meat after.

    The idea of appetizers it's always a good one for me, but should that be served as a table for everyone to grab or could be plated?

    I'm thinking in taking some parts of your proposal and some of Someday's (I really want to make Hummus and Baba Ganoush), maybe plate those with a selection of cheeses, the tapenade (instead of full sized olives) and some charcuterie (we have some really good here). In this case I would be keeping it pretty mediterranean.

    If this happens to occur on the most cold part of winter I would maybe prefer a soup as starter.

    About the meat, I like to cook it, I don't have much experience with more greasy cuts (I always used to cook and eat more lean cuts), so any recipe you want to share I'll appreciate very much! The idea of having it on the over from a long time and fill the air with a nice smell of what's coming sounds pretty cool! I'm a little afraid of not getting the point well, but I can practice in advance (my friends will be happy with that, no doubt!).

    Thanks a lot for your help!

    I'll be talking with my friend today to check on some specifics, the profile of the guests, any preferences he might have. But I think the main idea is to do something tasty, fancyness is not a requirement but we like to play around feelingthat we are sophisticated folks haha!
     
  6. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Oh my goodness Argentina! Your guests will appreciate and maybe even expect a meat course.

    For the ravioli, yes of course if it's a starter your be giving just a few depending on the size. 4-5 ravioli is the perfect amount and sage/brown butter is classic. Ravioli are traditionally not sauced heavily, it's the filling and the fresh pasta that is the star. I would make them in advance and poach them a la minute. If that's too fussy you can do the risotto as a starter, again because in Italy pasta and risotto are classically starters.

    The thing about fattier (and cheaper) cuts of meat is that they are more forgiving. Wellington, tenderloin, breasts, these are all beautiful cuts of meat but you have to cook them with precision and if they overlook even slightly it is ruined. So if you're not experienced with cooking for 10 people I would recommend taking an easier route. It is still impressive and extremely satisfying food. This is my most favorite recipe for pick belly. So easy! Plus you cook it the day before and just heat it up right before serving.

     
  7. brulo

    brulo

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    Hahaha! Yeah, I simply cannot avoid meat here :) And we have good quality cuts even in the cheaper ones (although nothing is "cheap" here nowadays haha!).

    I agree 1000% percent on the fatty cuts being more forgiving and that they would be a better choice for a first time. I'll check that recipe, thanks a lot!

    As for starters I'll offer a couple ravioli options and risotto as another option.

    For what I see this will take the form of something like: - Appetizers / Soup - Starter (pasta/risotto/TBD) - Main: meaty goodness

    I've lost myself for the past hour reading recipes for different mushroom based soups and my stomach is requesting some food asap!
     
  8. brulo

    brulo

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    Just took the time to watch the vid (didn't expect to be just two minutes long!) INCREDIBLE!

    Silly question, is that supposed to be eaten with the fat and all?

    Also, could something like this work with a little less fatty meat? I'm worried the meat to fat ration on that dish is too low.

    Loved to see Ramsay teaching me a cool recipe in two minutes :D
     
  9. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Haha yes it is eaten with the fat and all. It is pork belly, also known as bacon. It is quite a treat. There is no other part of the pig I can think would work in this particular preparation but there are other recipes with less fatty cuts. I'll post soon.
     
  10. brulo

    brulo

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    Thanks for the info, yeah we use it here a lot, it's called Panceta (literally belly), but I thought it's not exactly the same as the bacon consumed in the US, still its what we use in the same way so it's pretty well known. Could be cool to do this since it's not the typical way we consume it.

    Any ideas for a side for this? I'm thinking on creamy sweet potato quenelles and caramelized apples. Pretty standard for pork.
     
  11. brulo

    brulo

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    I'm heavily leaning towards the idea of an Italian dinner, with appetizers, a pasta dish, a meat dish and a dessert.

    Would be awesome if anyone have some meat recipes, in the line of the one Koukouvagia shared: long time in the oven while I can do something else and cuts that are "more forgiving" for a newbie.

    For the pasta and starters I have a couple ideas that could go pretty well so that's not my main worry.

    For dessert I think the only option will be a good old tiramisu, it's easy and awesome!
     
  12. brulo

    brulo

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    thanks thanks thanks!

    I've bookmarked another pork shoulder recipe, I'll check this out too!

    Another chicken option would be cool too!

    I've noticed there's not many cow meat recipes of this style (but I've found some more Argentinian ones).

    I think I hav lots of options for the first sit down with my friend.
     
  13. teamfat

    teamfat

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    You could do a lobster and saffron risotto, and post it in this month's challenge.

    mjb.
     
  14. brulo

    brulo

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    I don't think it's going to happen before the end of the month haha!

    Still could be a nice idea, if I manage to get a decent lobster around here :)
     
  15. brulo

    brulo

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    Well, I've gathered with my friend for more details.

    I've proposed a typical Italian meal with 4 steps, Antipasto (starter), Primo (first, pasta or rice), Secondo (second, meat), Dolce (dessert) and Contorno (salad or vegetables to go with or after the second).

    The dinner would take place probably between late august and late September, more likely September, which means the start of spring here and warmed temperatures :) Also, looks like could be around 15/17 people. The dinner it's for his close family (I know most of them very well), he will be assisting with serving and whatever I need.

    From what I've proposed we agreed on Crostini for the antipasto. I gave several options for them, he will choose three and each person will be served 2 of each of those, for a total serving of 6. Also, as a little Mediterranean addition I'll be serving hummus, baba ganoush and tapenade in little pots to taste with a limited amount of bread sticks (I don't want to risk people getting full at the start!).

    For the first he's undecided between risotto or ravioli. I gave several options of both and recommended ravioli since risotto it's a more winter-y dish (heavier, more heat retainer). He will probably go with the ravioli, filling still to be decided (I'll be trying a couple of them to see which one he prefers). In case of Ravioli I suppose something around 6/8 per person would suffice, which is still a lot to do. I hear advice on how to organize the plating for this, since I'll have to boil like a hundred raviolis :)

    Next dish will be pork or cow meat, we agreed on let chicken out.

    I've proposed the pressed pork belly option, along with mashed sweet potatoes cooked in tinfoil directly on hot coal (the one we use for our incredible barbecues and roasts), something I always do and it's easier to do one or two days in advance. Also some green apple puree (or caramelized cubes). Other pork option is the shoulder recipe (porchetta).

    For the cow option I've proposed a marinated Rib Cap Roast, something like this: https://c2.staticflickr.com/9/8389/28459580001_b922690121_z.jpg this would be accompanied by tiny andean potatoes briefly sauteed with a little olive oil and rosemary (that's more south american than Mediterranean but we will probably go with a pork option anyway).

    For the meat dishes I'll try to to the math for 5/6 people (which I'll invite over to taste when I practice the dish) and then extrapolate up to 15 people or so.

    For the dessert I've proposed tiramisu and he mentioned (and I remembered) his mother makes an OH MY GOD good tiramisu, so we will probably ask her to do that (she will demand to do something anyway, so it might as well be the dessert, I prefer to cook savory).

    A couple questions:

    1) How many excess do you recommend to calculate? I suppose you don't go with the exact amount of everything and instead make a buffer in case something goes wrong. I'm thinking in around a 20%+ than the exact amount. I've also agreed the leftovers will remain with him.

    2) As mentioned before, any advice on how to manage the plating? Specially for the pasta that can get cold quickly and I will need to boil a lot of rations. I could try the tip of getting them cooked the day after (maybe taking them out one minute before "al dente" and finish them quickly before serving, but I'm afraid the pasta itself might get chunky...)

    3) How much should I charge? Only for the service, the food will be paid by him in separate (upon presenting the receipts), so I only need to consider how much to charge for the service itself... should I calculate per hour? per person? things to consider:

    - It's a good friend of mine (one of my besties) but he insists that I charge him what I consider fair and just,

    - It's the first time I do something like this (I guess it doesn't matter as long as everything goes well),

    - Going out to eat something like this here would be (I can be wrong here, I need to check) around 30/40USD without wine.

    I guess that's all the news for now! :D

    Thanks again to all the beautiful people helping out!
     
  16. brulo

    brulo

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    Soooo, I'm resurrecting this thread because this is actually happening in around two weeks :)

    This weekend I'm cooking for him and another friend to taste what I would like to serve at the event.

    I'll make two or three varieties of ravioli and for the started I'm trying a gravlax (the fish is in the freezer today to kill possible parasites).

    What I would like to ask for is some insight on how to charge for this.

    Is there any universal amount to use as a base to price this work? I guess it's easier to give an amount per person without ingredients (that's passed separately just showing the receipts for the purchases).