Archive for January, 2010

Dinner Party Ideas

January 4, 2010

Although I have done dinner buffets for 100 and appetizer & sweets parties for over 200 people, one popular use of my catering services, has been dinner parties for 8-12 people held in the home.  They have varied from drop-offs that just need heating to ready-to-eat drop offs, and even dinners that I have stayed to present.  It is easy to enjoy a dinner party when you don’t need to hop up and down preparing each course.  Here are a few ideas for dinner parties.

First, in planning, keep the table too-small.  A table that you need to huddle around is much more intimate.  People’s social bubbles colide and it is difficult to stay out of the conversation.  In the winter, it’s warm and cozy too.  If you are planning the seating, put the two most social talkers in the group together in the center of the table to keep the whole group engaged in the conversation.  Matched dishes are not always necessary.  I knew one person who didn’t have all the dishes she needed, and bought colorful mismatched dishes for 25cents a piece at the thrift store.  It made a bright and interesting table, and when she was done, she donated them back!  Also, some dry cleaners will do cloth napkins and tablecloths for free.  Check it out with yours!

I usually offer custom menus including one salad or soup (soup or warm salads in Winter!), one entree with appropriate sides, bread, and a small dessert.  Here are a few items I have cooked this Fall and Winter:

Salad & Soup: Warm Fennel Potato Salad, Winter Squash Soup with Crumbled Goat Cheese, Rosemary White Bean Soup, Roasted Tomato Soup from Preserved Summer Tomatoes, Couscous Salad with Seitan & Sundried Tomatoes,  Couscous Salad with Dried Cherries & Almonds, Pineapple Rice Salad with Cashews, Black Bean Quinoa Salad, Vinaigrette Veggie Slaw

Entrees and Sides: Double Roasted Chickens with Roasted Veggies & Potatoes Dauphinois, Spinach Pie with Snug Haven’s Hoophouse Spinach served with Caramelized Carrots and Saffron Rice, Spinach-Portobello Enchiladas with Spanish Rice & Favas, Individual Sundried Tomato Turkey Loaves with Cranberry Sauce and Mashed Parsnip Potatoes, Grits & Gouda Souffles with Farmer John’s Cheese served with White Beans and Greens Stew, Beef Stew Stuffed Mini-pumpkins with Cranberry Wild Rice

Desserts: Lime Curd Tarts, Chocolate-dipped Banana Shortbread, Vegan Linzercookies (Hazelnut cookie with Raspberry filling), Chocolate Coconut-milk Creme Brulee topped with Caramelized Banana, Pear-Walnut Wontons with Yahara Bay Apple Brandy soaked Pears, Wheat-free Pecan Shortbread, Fresh Fruit Kabobs with Creamy Dip, German Chocolate Cupcakes (vegan or dairy), Snow-queen Coconut Cupcakes, Brioche Bread Pudding with Brandy Sauce, Mini White Chocolate Cheesecake.

Prices vary based on the complexity and cost of your menu, but typically range from $12-$18 per person.  From January through March of this year, when you book a dinner party for 8-12 people, Nutshell Catering will be donating 5% of it’s profits to MACSAC’s Partner Shares program.

“The Partner Shares Program is a unique initiative aimed at improving nutrition by increasing access to fresh, local vegetables and supporting local farmers in southern Wisconsin. Partner Shares provides financial assistance for fresh, sustainably grown produce from local CSA farms.”

Partner Shares