Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hosting a dinner party the OCD way

I don't mean to make light of anyone who really has OCD (God knows I have enough issues of my own), but I am the oldest child, like to be in charge, am bossy, and really really really organized (and perhaps have a touch of OCD).

So a few weeks ago, Dwight said we should have a dinner party for a specific group of friends (his, not mine). I said sure, and once a date was agreed upon, the plan was set in motion. The day is tonight, so how, you ask, do I have time to sit and write a blog post when eight people will be arriving in less than four three hours? Organization, organization, organization. It's a curse. Here's just a peek into my brain:

I planned the menu a few weeks ago, and by planning the menu, I mean I decided to make the exact same thing I made for our Christmas Eve dinner. Everyone loved it and it made lots, so I know the quantity is sufficient. We're having beef tenderloin with a shallot-mustard sauce, Jeanie's rice-a-roni as we call it (a delicious rice / vermicelli dish made with butter and french onion soup), asparagus with gremolata, a chopped salad, and white chocolate cheesecake for dessert.

I picked up the tenderloin last week at Costco and got the other ingredients earlier this week. I did major deep-cleaning earlier in the week so all I had to do yesterday was vacuum and dust (not even dust - just Swiffer), and Dwight cleaned the bathroom today.

I ironed the table linens earlier in the week, and I set the table with the chargers and glassware on Thursday. I bought flowers at Sam's yesterday, split up the bouquets and made some low arrangements (HATE trying to talk over tall stuff.) I also figured out which serving dishes I'd need and got them out along with the necessary serving utensils.

Of course they're labeled. What did you expect?

I made the white chocolate cheesecake yesterday. I could have made the rice and the sauce ahead and just refrigerated, but I knew I'd have time this morning.

The shallot-mustard sauce is pretty fabulous, so much so that I made one-and-a-half times the recipe. That did involve a lot of shallots:

Shallots get to me the way onions do some people, so I pulled out my handy-dandy onion goggles:

They really work!!
(And yes, I am wearing my cat nightie. I am a firm believer of not showering early when there is a ton of work to be done. I know my hair is rolled-out-of-bed fresh, and I'm pretty sure I haven't brushed my teeth. What you see is what you get - I've never claimed anything else.)

So while the sauce was reducing, I started the rice. And talk about multi-tasking: I chopped the ingredients for the gremolata (olives, lemon zest, Italian parsley, olives, and garlic) as well. Everything was done by noon, as well as setting up the bar area and getting appetizers organized.

As hostess, I get the pretty wine glass. Thanks, Emmy!

I need to assemble caprese skewers (cherry tomatoes, little mozzarella balls, and basil drizzled with some balsamic). I am also making one hot app - a carmelized pear dip from a mix, but I'll do that right before people arrive. 

Dwight ran out to get some ice and brought home lunch:

If you're from here, you know what this is. A runza is like a pierogi - meat, cabbage, and cheese all baked in a pastry. I have one maybe twice a year, but the kids always try to get one when they're home.

So you can see we're just in a holding pattern for about another hour or so, then I can start the last-minute stuff. See? You too can have a party and not be crazy the day of!

Okay, here is the recipe for the tenderloin that I got from my friend Teri and is never-fail. You want this in your recipe repertoire! It comes out perfectly medium-rare in the center, with a bit better done at the ends. (If someone wants better done than that, well, that's why microwaves were invented.) 

Teri's Tenderloin:  The meat has to be at ROOM TEMPERATURE. This is CRUCIAL!!!! Take it out several hours before you'll be cooking it!!!! Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line your cooking pan with foil large enough to wrap the meat in - but don't wrap it up yet. Rub the meat with olive oil and whatever seasonings you like - olive oil, garlic, onion powder, cracked pepper. Place it on the foil-lined pan and bake for 25 minutes exactly (still unwrapped). Once you take it out of the oven, immediately seal with the foil and let stand for 10 minutes to finish cooking. Slice and serve.

Shallot-Mustard Sauce
4 T butter
6 large shallots, sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups beef stock
2 T Dijon mustard
4 tsp grainy mustard

Saute the shallots in butter until tender. Add beef stock and vinegar; simmer until slightly reduced. Reduce heat and add mustards. Keep warm and serve with beef. (Or make ahead, refrigerate, and rewarm before serving.)

Okay, so even though I finally showered, it's time to slap on some make-up (and maybe have a glass of wine!)

Since the last time I wrote was before Valentine's Day, check out what my valentine got me:


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