Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hosting With Help

A lot of books now include a book club guide at the back, primarily consisting of questions for discussion. Sometimes I skim these guides out of curiosity, but I rarely feel that we have a hard time getting a discussion off the ground. Besides, it would feel, pretentious? Artificial? School-ish? Anyway, The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry had a guide of the more useful variety, a menu guide. And let's be serious, good food and drink is one of my favorite parts of book club. So taking tips from her guide I decided to tackle the Beef bourguignon (that I still am unsure how to pronounce).  So ready to hit the hay on book club eve, I remember, just after 11, that I need to marinate the meat and veggies overnight. I'm a little concerned that I'm already falling behind at step one. (And I know it's not that late but I'm a fan of my full eight hours.) 
 None of the steps for this dish are difficult, but having just finished the book I worry about things I would never stop that long to consider. Is my dice consistent? Would my stack of dishes (clean dishes) get me in trouble for an untidy work station?

And then I overestimate the amount of time it will take to bring my marinade to a boil, and while I'm multi-tasking it boils over. The smoke detector reacts. The Gray Chef is intimidating just to have in you subconscious! The rest of the recipe goes off without a hitch, but I'm never quite sure of the final dish because I've never had it before. Is it meant to be stew like, gravy like? I still think I'd like to take a crack at Julie Child's version in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking".
The recipe said that ideally you should serve the same wine you used in the marinade with dinner. My budget landed on this particular wine, and I'm no expert, but I would definitely buy this wine again.

My mom helped me hunt down some great favors for the dinner, porcelain Eiffel Tower measuring spoons. Then because she's super generous she got the girls matching tea towels and a "sharp" paring knife. She also got the cute desert plates that I'm sure I'll break out whenever I can. 

Included in the menu guide was a small section on "Mastering the elusive cheese tray". I'm not one to pass on an opportunity to buy and sample cheese, so under Kathleen Flinn's guidance I was able to assemble a cheese tray that was pretty delicious. (It's hard to go wrong with cheese anyway.)

We ended the night with our first ever book club activity. We all gathered in the kitchen and followed the book's recipe for crepes. Everyone brought a filling. I will absolutely be revisiting this recipe and if you decide to make them yourself, you should give my favorite filling combo a try, nutella + banana's + flaked sweetened coconut + whip cream. 

If you have a book club of your own this book might is worth a try, if for no other reason than it's endless (and delicious) hosting options.

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