HOST A PROGRESSIVE DINNER…IT CAN BE BY YOURSELF OR WITH A FRIEND!
Do you have a large family or friend base, and do not want to burden only one family group with the responsiblity of hosting the entire holiday dinner(s)? Why not throw a Progressive Dinner Party? A Progressive Dinner is a Party that each group host a part or course of the Dinner Party. According to an article I recently read, it extolled that there can average up to 9 courses in a Formal Dinner (I have researched that the course can number up to as many as 21 courses!); but for purposes of my article I will limit it to the traditional 3 courses which consist of the Appetizer, Main Course and Dessert. Sounds complicated…it is not…as a matter of fact it is quite simple since each group now focuses on 1 course instead of all the courses. Read on for a simple deconstruction of a new concept in Dinning…
The First group will host the Appetizers Round; which may consist of either: hor d’ oeuvres, Crudités , Canapé(s )! Now, I have your creative Iron Chef juices flowing…your secret theme ingredient is “something bite size or that you can eat in 1 or 2 bites…………………..
this can be as easy as presenting your guests with various selection of trays such as a Relish Tray, Olive Tray, or Cheese, Meat and Bread Tray. The important factor here is to have a variant choice of selection within each tray…for example if you have a Pickle tray be sure to serve more than the Dill; but offer types that your guest may not be accustom such as cornichon (french pickle).
***even the old fashion favorite BUFFALO/CHICKEN WINGS OR DRUMETTES will sure to be a hit with your guest; but try to offer a dip other than Ranch or Blue Chasse also offer a humus or Curried Cucumber Yogurt Dips!
For those not familiar with some of these terms above….educate yourself and read on….
Crudités usually includes whole or sliced raw vegetables such as celery sticks, carrot sticks, bell pepper strips, broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus spears; sometimes olives depending on local customs or taste level of the Host. These veggies are sometimes dipped, to stimulate the appetite, in a vinaigrette or other dipping sauce. The French word “crudité”, which designates “uncooked vegetables”. This may be an ideal method to stimulate the appetite for the following meals and cause socialization among your guest.
I would encourage you to display your veggies into a festive design depending on the Holiday or theme of the Dinner Party!
Personally, I have a wonderful recipe that I often use to make an interesting crudities; which also serves as a conversation piece.
I use a Packet of Hidden Valley Dip Mix (I enjoy Green Onion or Chive Flavored if you are in an adventurous mood I would use half of each packets
Canapés are small “open faced sandwiches”, prepared and usually decorative food, that are held in the fingers and are often eaten in one bite…canapés are usually served as crackers or small slices of stale dry bread, toast or some type of puff pastry, they are cut into various shapes, usually into thin slices and then shaped with a cutter or knife. Shapes might include circles, rings, squares, strips or triangles (you can try using a Themed Cookie Cutter like a wreath or snowflake), then served as the base, a savory type of butter (the spread is traditionally either a compound butter or a flavored cream cheese). Then add some common garnishes, this can range from finely chopped vegetables, scallions, and herbs to caviar or truffle oil or pastes. Now you can actually top it with a “canopy” of such savory foods as meat, cheese, fish, caviar, froie gras, or some type of puree or relish (you may what your canapé to be either salty or spicy, this will surely encourage your guests to drink more cocktails, punches, mineral drinks and other non-alcoholic libations)…CHEERS!
Pièce de résistance …canapés!
….great thing about canapés are that it is good for the vegans or vegetarians as well…like this decorated with pickeled red pepper and black olive creme treat!
The Second group serves the Entrée or the Main Course (includes the soup/stews, salad, Quiche,Tarts and Gratin, Soufflés). although an entrée is technically a dish served before the Main Course, or between two principal courses of a meal. In France, the modern restaurant menu meaning of “entrée” is the Course that precedes the main course in a three course meal. However, we know the Main Course to be the featured or primary dish in a full course meal consisting of several courses. It usually follows the entrée (“entry”) course, and the salad course. In North American usage it may in fact be called the “entrée”.
….how about the All-American dish Meat and Potatoes!
Choosing the best meal to serve as the Main Course for a Dinner Party is often quite a dilemma. Hosts and Hostesses want to make sure that they do not serve foods to which the guests may have an allergic reaction, and when dealing with different Cultures or Ethnic backgrounds, you want to make sure the food is not offensive. For example, you would not serve swine/pig at a meal where some of your guests practice the Muslim, Seventh-day Adventist or Jewish religion(s). Also, you would not serve only beef or chicken if you know that some of your Dinner Guests are Vegetarian or even fish if they are Vegans..remember that a successful Dinner Party is one where ALL of your Guests are happy, filled and satisfied!
…Pastas usually are a safe bet; because it can be less offensive to many of your Dinner Party guests and can be served many different ways (with or without meats or cheeses)!
The dinner party that earned me the best compliments was one at which I served Pasta. Along with being easy to prepare, it is quite tasty. There are many variations of this Entrée…where you can get most creative is not only in the choice of pasta or noodle; but in the sauce that it is paired !
…but the one that my family and friends seems to prefer is my Mother’s Lasanaga!
…try to introduce a little flavor flav with Ethnic foods or dishes from other Cultures to your Progressive Diners such as Asian, Meditarrian, or Honduran foods….something differnet can be something FuN and sure will be adventurous!
The Third group of your Progressive Dinner serves the Dessert! In cultures all around the world, Dessert is a course that typically comes at the end of a meal, usually consisting of sweet foods. The word comes from the French language as in dessert and this from Old French desservir, “to clear the table” and “to serve.” The most common Western Desserts include Cakes, Pies, Biscuits, Puddings, Gelatins, Pastries, Candies, and Ice Creams. However, not “all” Desserts are as sugary sweet conscious in check for example Fruits may also be eaten with or as a dessert. Although Desserts usually consisting of sweet food not all of them are sugary for example a strongly flavored Cheese can be served as a Dessert as well a Fruit. However Cheese and sweet food do have something in common, that fruits do not, they both have lots of calories (and typically lot of fat!). It is true Fruit can be sweet; but not always and I am not sure I would call it strongly flavored, at least not in the tone of cheese. Hey, why not serve your Dinner Guest Cheese AND Fruit together…ow la la (very European)!
… or perhaps the most popular and decadent dessert of the all …CHOCOLATE! Allow your guest to explore an indulgent world of desserts, pastries, confections and treats of all kinds from all the world with the finest chocolatiers on host a chocolate tour. A little history about our subject matter…Chocolate is a raw or processed food produced from the seed of the tropical Theobroma Cocao tree. Cacao has been cultivated for at least three millennia in countries such as Mexico, Central and South America. Its earliest documented use is around 1100 BC. The majority of the Mesoamerican people made chocolate beverages, including the Aztecs. The Europeans sweetened and fattened it by adding refined sugar and milk, two ingredients unknown to the Mexicans. By contrast, the Europeans never infused it into their general diet, but had compartmentalized its use to sweets and desserts by the 19th century. Therefore, chocolate is quite an International contributor in your course of Progressive Dinner…so let me say: Thank you, Gracias, Meri Beaucoup, Grazie Mille, Danke, and Tack!!!!
Chocolate can be infused in most Desserts of all types and flavors in flavor and decorative attributes. It has become one of the most popular food types and flavors in the world. Gifts of chocolate molded into different shapes have become traditional on certain holidays: for example chocolate coins on Hanukkah, Santa Clause, Rudolf and other holiday symbols on Christmas, and chocolate hearts or chocolate in heart-shaped boxes on Valentine’s Day. Chocolate is also used in cold and hot beverages, to produce Chocolate Milk and Hot Chocolate…with such a versatile food what guest would not fall in love!
After researching Desserts and inevitably Chocolate I learned that Cocoa solids contain alkaloids such as Theobromine and PhenPthylamine, which have physiological effects on the body. Which has been linked to Serotonin levels in the brain. Some research found that chocolate, eaten in moderation, can even lower blood pressure. The presence of Theobromine renders chocolate toxic to some animals, especially dogs and cats…so there is your excuse not to share it with even “man or women’s best friend” your dog (lol)!
Therefore for the Progressive Dinner host hosting this course they would have little room for error when it come to Desserts (lol)!
Tip: Desserts are sometimes eaten with a Dessert Spoon, intermediate in size between a teaspoon and a tablespoon. As to how to set your table for your dinner, there is a standard and recognize pattern
although it may seem to be too formal or sterile…the Dining Atmosphere can offset its formality and lend itself to the modernity of your Progressive Dinner Party!
If you can afford it have an Interactive Meal; one that you hire either a Private Chef, a Student in Culinary School or a Talented Friend to instruct your Guest to prepare and cook part of your designated Course!
Set your table either Formal or Causal with a Color Scheme in mind and throw some music on in the background to help set the mood…just enough to enjoy; but not distract from your Guest’s lively conversations!
Insert a Homemade Card, Scroll or letter onto your table with either a Short Story, Lyrics to a Song, or haiku poem about Friendship, that speaks to each individual Guest…make them feel as special as they are to you!
…why not give a small gift to let your Guest know, just how important they are in your life, or to your family ( no need to spend large sums of cash shop ebay, Overstock or Bizrate for great deals and ideas)
These gifts can even be homemade as well; and can be as creative as your imagination and mind will allow!
Now you have the basic information to organize a Progressive Dinner….you only need to remember to Live, Love and Laugh…now I can add EAT…with your friends and make some new memories in the process; but most importantly ENJOY!