Sunday, March 26, 2006

Le Menu - FB2B, part 10

More than a couple of people to whom I’ve spoken about this blog have said that what they would really like to know about is putting a menu together as well as the time it takes to have it all get to the table and still be able to enjoy their guests’ company. Timing seems to be a particularly big theme.

The previous three posts can be used to pull together an easy, friendly lunch, brunch, or supper. So, here’s how I organized it when I hosted a luncheon for several friends about a month ago using all these recipes.


Stage one – (Several days prior – It may sound silly to list all of these things, however, it won’t be when you realize you have more guests than stuff.)

A. Confirm guest list
B. Check that no one has allergies or special food needs and make adjustments, if necessary
C. Finalize recipes
D. Read recipes and check for or buy all of the ingredients
E. Count napkins and find tablecloth or placemats
F. Make sure have enough clean dishes, glasses, serving utensils, eating utensils

Stage Two – (Day of – anywhere up to a couple of hours before start time)

A. Read recipes, again with a view to the steps needed to prepare dishes
B. Pico de Gallo can be made in the a.m. or several hours before to allow the flavors to meld
C. Coconut and macadamia nuts can be toasted at this point as well
D. Set serving table

Stage Three – (Day of – an hour to an hour and a half before guests arrive)

A. Chop optional ingredients and put into bowls – cover, refrigerate
B. Put sour cream in bowl – cover, refrigerate
C. Make beans, put into serve bowl, let cool for a few minutes – cover, refrigerate
D. Cook meat and season according to directions, put into serve bowl, let cool for a few minutes – cover, refrigerate

Stage Four – (Day of – about half an hour before guests arrive)

A. Take Pico de Gallo from refrigerator, stir to blend flavors
B. Make Guacamole and put in serving bowl (so avocados stay as bright green as possible)
C. Put tortilla chips into serving bowl
D. Put both Pico de Gallo and Guacamole out on the table for the first arrivals to munch on
E. Take items out of refrigerator and place on table in the assembly line [see photo from previous post]

As guests arrive, they will have something to munch on and can ooh and ahh over the setup, taste buds watering for the main dish. When the last guest has arrived, heat up the beans and meat so that they are served hot. Encourage everyone to serve him/herself.

Alternative Meal Suggestion

If making the 7-Layer Dip and having brunch instead, follow the first two Stages, as listed above. Make the meat and beans and chop the supporting ingredients. You can make the first three layers and chop the rest of the ingredients in advance. When ready to assemble the dish, have the Guacamole made, allowing extra for your guests to munch on when they arrive. The additional layers will take about 10 minutes to put into place. You could even prepare this in front of your guests as the stragglers get there.

Heat up flour tortillas in a 250 degree Fahrenheit oven (130 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 1/2). As your guests arrive, prepare the eggs, asking each one their preference. Alternatively, you can start up a big batch of scrambled eggs just as the last guest walks in so that they are warm and ready to serve. Cold eggs are very unappetizing and unappealing so they really do need to be prepared on the spot and/or as close to the time you plan to dish them up as possible. Encourage each one to help him/herself to the 7-Layer Dip.

The Tropical Bananas Foster will add a nice hint of sweetness and drama to your meal. Again, it is one of those dishes best prepared right before serving. It is possible to pre-cut the bananas, cover them, and place them in the refrigerator, but not for more than an hour. They need to hold together during the cooking process.

Test the recipes. Try them out. Add a few cervezas and gather up some friends and family for a feast!

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