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Home Entertaining - Page 2

post #16 of 51
Tony, If your guests keep coming back, then you probably hit the right balance most of the time. There are rules in each country about how service at the table is to be conducted. You help yourself, someone comes around and serves diners from their left, you prepare plates for your guests, and a multitude of other possibilities according to the cultures. Then there are your own house rules, your own expression. I think this could be likened to some of the conversations I have seen in the "men's clothing" section (see "Is black suit an acceptable business attire"). I have a few friends who prepare plates. They are the kind of people who plan their holidays according to restaurants they wish to try abroad. They are wonderful people who know how to entertain, never skimp on the rare ingredients or the time necessary to complete a dish, but the drawback is that the conversation tends to revolve around food. I have found myself suggesting doing something other than a dinner at their place, such as a walk in the woods or "Just coffee", because sometimes the prospects of yet another dinner where it is all about guessing the ingredients or discussing Canadian cheeses is a bit too much for me to bear. My personal philosophy is for my meals to be appreciated, talked about for a minute or two, and then for my guests to resume their conversation while enjoying their meal and the atmosphere. I serve a number of ways, depending on what is on the menu. Obviously, for coquilles st Jacques en coquilles and gratinées, I serve guests as I do not want anyone to burn themselves. If it is a boeuf bourguignon, I will pass it around or stand by each guest holding the dish as they help themselves. I don't appreciate it much when someone serves me, I must say, but I always give the option to my guests.
post #17 of 51
I am pretty much a foodie. possibly as much as you will meet. I have had friends over for beer and brats smuggled fresh from germany, I usually have a good cheese plate to end and a cured meat plate to begin meals. I have been cooking for more than 20 years, now. one of my favorite things to make as a first course is risotto. my rissoto starts off with the right kind of rice, and a home made broth, good cheese, wine and very little else. it is time consuming and can be very stressful. I have had to throw batches out when the guests didn't handle according to schedule. I have probrably served risotto 20 times at small dinner parties. I don't think I have ever commented on the process or discussed the ingredients or the complexity of the dish. if others want to discuss it, they are free, and I will answer, but just like most of my friends don't know that I wear custom shirts, very few know that they have eaten 100 Euro per kilo ham at my house, either, didn't seem that it was anybodies business. my point is - I make it because I enjoy making it, and because I enjoy having my friends eat it. I am not offended if it doesn't fit what they want to eat, there are plenty of other things to eat. I make it, and put it on the table, and then I expect them to have fun and enjoy and make good conversation. I don't know, it seems that life is a little too short to get upset if your guest doesn't eat everything on his plate.
post #18 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
one of my favorite things to make as a first course is risotto. my rissoto starts off with the right kind of rice, and a home made broth, good cheese, wine and very little else.
What, no onion or garlic in your risotto?.?.
post #19 of 51
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(globetrotter @ Feb. 07 2005,11:29) one of my favorite things to make as a first course is risotto. my rissoto starts off with the right kind of rice, and a home made broth, good cheese, wine and very little else.
What, no onion or garlic in your risotto?.?.
that is the very little else. it you want to get technical, there are little bits of a half dozen other things - safron, a very small amount of ham, a very small amount of vinigar. by the way, on chowhounds.com there is a recipe for gorgonzola and pistachio risotto where the poster literally writes five times "if you don't do it exactly this way, don't use my recipe at all". he dictates the brands of rice, cheese and wine, he talks timing, everything. I am sure it is fantasitc, but some people need to relax a little.
post #20 of 51
It doesn't have to be either/or, let the reason for the gathering dictate the service. If it's more casual, pass the plates (beside the holidays). If the event is about the food, well go ahead and plate (when did "plate" become a verb?). We have wine/food dinners with other couples and we each agree to be responsible for a course. Those events are about the food, so we plate, and while we eat, discuss what's on the plate, tastes, sensations, pairing with the wine (or some cases, the beer) and yes, even take pictures. This is a group for whom food and wine is much more than sustenance. Of course "normal" conversation takes place too about jobs, travel, and family. Those are the exception. Most times the gathering is more casual and so is the service, especially when we're outside. For both - everyone's in the kitchen all the time. Now about that risotto - how far do restaurants take their large batches before stopping the cooking, to be finished once the order is placed? I've been to restaraunts where they say there's a 20-25 minute wait, meaning they are starting from scratch, but they seem to be the exception these days. Maybe that's the way to help handle the arrival times of the guests (I assume that's what you meant, globetrotter).
post #21 of 51
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Now about that risotto - how far do restaurants take their large batches before stopping the cooking, to be finished once the order is placed? I've been to restaraunts where they say there's a 20-25 minute wait, meaning they are starting from scratch, but they seem to be the exception these days. Maybe that's  the way to help handle the arrival times of the guests (I assume that's what you meant, globetrotter).
I don't think that you can make a large batch of risoto and have it come out good, myself (sorry, I guess I am not just picky about indian food, I am a little picky about italian, too). but my point was actually that I try to make this difficulty transparent to my guests, so that the time table of the meal is not dictated by rice, but by the nature of the conversation.
post #22 of 51
Thread Starter 
[quote=globetrotter,Feb. 07 2005,13:05]
Quote:
by the way, on chowhounds.com there is a recipe for gorgonzola and pistachio risotto where the poster literally writes five times "if you don't do it exactly this way, don't use my recipe at all". he dictates the brands of rice, cheese and wine, he talks timing, everything. I am sure it is fantasitc, but some people need to relax a little.
Dictating brands is where I draw the line. Actually, I draw the line long before that -- dictating brands is patently ridiculous and shows, to me, a lack of understanding of the basic mecahnisms of cooking. I won't go into a long explanation of whay that is -- that is best left for Chowhounds. jekv12, I believe the verb "to plate" originated in restaurant kitchens, specifically those that pay attention to arrangement and presentation, and refers to that act of arranging the food on the plate. The food is first prepped, then cooked, then plated, and finally served. Each stage is frequently done by a different person. Best Regards, Tony
post #23 of 51
[quote]
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Originally Posted by globetrotter,Feb. 07 2005,13:05
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by the way, on chowhounds.com there is a recipe for gorgonzola and pistachio risotto where the poster literally writes five times "if you don't do it exactly this way, don't use my recipe at all". he dictates the brands of rice, cheese and wine, he talks timing, everything. I am sure it is fantasitc, but some people need to relax a little.  
Dictating brands is where I draw the line.  Actually, I draw the line long before that -- dictating brands is patently ridiculous and shows, to me, a lack of understanding of the basic mecahnisms of cooking.  I won't go into a long explanation of whay that is -- that is best left for Chowhounds.
You must be joking, about the brands. It is most important, as you surely know. Try cooking with American parmesan cheese, and then taste your risotto... I mean, really, Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa and Droste, no difference to you?
post #24 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
You must be joking, about the brands. It is most important, as you surely know. Try cooking with American parmesan cheese, and then taste your risotto... I mean, really, Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa and Droste, no difference to you?
Fabienne, I'm not sure if you're being facetious or serious. Regardless, you're right -- I should have been more precise and taken it on a case by case basis. American "parmesan," to me, is a different product than real Parmigiano-Reggiano, not just a different brand. Even so, it has its place -- I grate some American parmesan on my pasta on weeknights regularly. That, in turn, is different from the pre-grated "parmesan" that comes in green cans (that stuff isn't even cheese). But consider this -- say I have no time, energy or money to get real Parmigiano-Reggiano, and get some Grana Padano instead. That, too, actually, is a different product, not brand, but works very well in risotto. Yes, some people may be able to taste a slight difference. But is it inferior as an ingredient in this case? I don't think so. I should point out that when eating the cheese "straight" as it were, the difference is fairly pronounced, and many people would prefer Parmigiano-Reggiano, but as an ingredient in risotto, either one can be 100% effective. Chocolate is an even better example (and I have to apologize here -- I am NOT a chocolate expert). Ghiradelli vs. Droste -- don't know. Haven't tasted Ghiradelli in a long time. But Lindt vs. Droste? I challenge anyone to bake or cook something using both, and prove that one is superior to the other. Finally, wine -- one of globetrotter's examples -- is the most ridiculous. I will cook for free for a month for anyone who is able to taste the difference between risottos made with Pinot Grigios (say) from two different vineyards. I am not saying they wouldn't taste different when drunk -- in many cases they will, and one may well prefer one to another -- but as an ingredient in risotto? I think what this boils down to (pardon the pun) is as long as the basic level of quality (few would dispute that both Droste and Lindt make quality chocolate) and basic character (a Pinot Grigio is on some basic level always a Pinot Grigio) are there, the brand is irrelevant. Happy cooking, Tony
post #25 of 51
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(Fabienne @ Feb. 08 2005,07:03) You must be joking, about the brands.  It is most important, as you surely know.  Try cooking with American parmesan cheese, and then taste your risotto... I mean, really, Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa and Droste, no difference to you?
Fabienne, I'm not sure if you're being facetious or serious.  Regardless, you're right -- I should have been more precise and taken it on a case by case basis. American "parmesan," to me, is a different product than real Parmigiano-Reggiano, not just a different brand. Even so, it has its place -- I grate some American parmesan on my pasta on weeknights regularly.  That, in turn, is different from the pre-grated "parmesan" that comes in green cans (that stuff isn't even cheese).  But consider this -- say I have no time, energy or money to get real Parmigiano-Reggiano, and get some Grana Padano instead.  That, too, actually, is a different product, not brand, but works very well in risotto.  Yes, some people may be able to taste a slight difference.  But is it inferior as an ingredient in this case?  I don't think so.  I should point out that when eating the cheese "straight" as it were, the difference is fairly pronounced, and many people would prefer Parmigiano-Reggiano, but as an ingredient in risotto, either one can be 100% effective. Chocolate is an even better example (and I have to apologize here -- I am NOT a chocolate expert).  Ghiradelli vs. Droste -- don't know.  Haven't tasted Ghiradelli in a long time.  But Lindt vs. Droste?  I challenge anyone to bake or cook something using both, and prove that one is superior to the other. Finally, wine -- one of globetrotter's examples -- is the most ridiculous.  I will cook for free for a month for anyone who is able to taste the difference between risottos made with Pinot Grigios (say) from two different vineyards.  I am not saying they wouldn't taste different when drunk -- in many cases they will, and one may well prefer one to another -- but as an ingredient in risotto? I think what this boils down to (pardon the pun) is as long as the basic level of quality (few would dispute that both Droste and Lindt make quality chocolate) and basic character (a Pinot Grigio is on some basic level always a Pinot Grigio) are there, the brand is irrelevant. Happy cooking, Tony
We pretty much agree. You can get Parmigiano-Reggiano at a reasonable price at Trader Joe's if you live near one. It's still nothing like the ones I have tasted in Italy. They are so hard, I can barely grate those. To me, Ghirardelli is not chocolate. Better than Hershey's though . Lindt can be very good, especially if bought in Europe, but I fear they alter the recipes for the products marketed in the US. I recently bought their white coconut "chocolate" and nearly spit it out: it was salty, with a metallic after taste. Pouah . I'm not a chocolate expert either, but I have Belgian friends who regularly spoil me by sending small offerings. I can't say much about the white wines I cook with, although I have definitely chosen the wrong wine a few times, so I'm not sure about your pinot gris assessment. But with the red variety, I can attest that the quality of the wine does influence the sauce. In that case, a merlot is not easily substituted by any other merlot. Just try The Charles Shaw Merlot awfullness at Trader Joe's and compare it to a Merlot with a little more body and a few more dollars. I don't believe you will disagree about this.
post #26 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
case by case basis. I can't say much about the white wines I cook with, although I have definitely chosen the wrong wine a few times, so I'm not sure about your pinot gris assessment. But with the red variety, I can attest that the quality of the wine does influence the sauce. In that case, a merlot is not easily substituted by any other merlot. Just try The Charles Shaw Merlot awfullness at Trader Joe's and compare it to a Merlot with a little more body and a few more dollars. I don't believe you will disagree about this.
Totally agreed. Charles Shaw Merlot is the wine equivalent of the pre-grated "parmesan" in green cans. I think I once had wine that came in a box that was better. Back when it was $1.99, someone nicknamed it "two-buck chuck" and it suck. This is a perfect example of the basic quality requirement not being satisfied. This is also an illustration of the age-old cooks' wisdom that one shouldn't cook with any wine that isn't good enough to drink, and two-buck chuck most certainly isn't. Regards, Tony
post #27 of 51
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(Fabienne @ Feb. 08 2005,08:36) case by case basis. I can't say much about the white wines I cook with, although I have definitely chosen the wrong wine a few times, so I'm not sure about your pinot gris assessment. But with the red variety, I can attest that the quality of the wine does influence the sauce.  In that case, a merlot is not easily substituted by any other merlot.  Just try The Charles Shaw Merlot awfullness at Trader Joe's and compare it to a Merlot with a little more body and a few more dollars.  I don't believe you will disagree about this.
Totally agreed.  Charles Shaw Merlot is the wine equivalent of the pre-grated "parmesan" in green cans.  I think I once had wine that came in a box that was better.  Back when it was $1.99, someone nicknamed it "two-buck chuck" and it suck.  This is a perfect example of the basic quality requirement not being satisfied.  This is also an illustration of the age-old cooks' wisdom that one shouldn't cook with any wine that isn't good enough to drink, and two-buck chuck most certainly isn't. Regards, Tony
I actualy use a boxed wine for cooking, something australian that isn't bad. I find that I hated cooking with the wine that I keep to drink, and sometimes I just need a cup, so having a box is a very good solution. might not be the best wine, but a lot of people actualy drink it.
post #28 of 51
A dear Italian friend from Florence cooked in my kitchen a few times. When presented with particular items, she sometimes lamented I didn't have "the right ingredients" (she was once very harsh on my French nutmeg, blaming it for her dish failing to meet her requirements). It was all very amusing to watch her. Her biggest failure at my place was some kind of clementine pudding. She was mortified.
post #29 of 51
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We pretty much agree.  You can get Parmigiano-Reggiano at a reasonable price at Trader Joe's if you live near one.  It's still nothing like the ones I have tasted in Italy.  They are so hard, I can barely grate those.
That's because the real stuff is properly--and tastes astounding when--crumbled instead of grated. Celemtine pudding? Does that even work? Tom
post #30 of 51
Personally I really like Ghiardelli (sp), although I do like Lindt, Droste, and Milka as well, I prefer a nice ghiardelli. I guess there's no accounting for taste.
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