Friday, September 18, 2009

Lazy Birthday for the Lazy Man Boyfriend

I had to do an interview yesterday with Gregg Smith who is a famous restaurateur here in Pasadena, because I'm doing an article about him for Pasadena Magazine. I told him I was doing a dinner birthday party for my boyfriend last night for 13 people, and he was pretty surprised by how relaxed I was. I told him the title of our book and he understood!

So, how does a Lazy Woman create a fancy dinner party for 13 with less stress? Here's what I did to create the following menu:

Chicken with Lemon Caper Wine Sauce
Mashed Potatoes
Spinach with Olive Oil and Lemon
Orzo with Peas and Fresh Herbs
Salad with Parmesan and Pine Nuts
Hot Buttery Bread
Two Birthday Desserts

Wednesday Night -- 4 hours work

  • Shopping for all Ingredients (frankly if I wasn't so cheap this could have been done in much shorter order, but I'm cheap!)
  • Prepare the Mashed Potatoes and put in casserole
  • Prepare Orzo with Peas and Fresh Herbs
  • Prepare one birthday dessert
  • Prepare flower arrangements and votive candles for tables

Thursday Morning - 1 hour work

  • Prepare second birthday dessert
  • Pound the chicken breasts and marinate in olive oil and white wine

Thurday Evening -- 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (party started at 7)

  • Set tables
  • Dress bouffet table and place all the serving dishes that will eventually be filled.
  • Par-grill the chicken
  • Prep the salad (without dressing)
  • Put the fresh spinach in the pot with lemon and olive oil and put on low heat to just get it steamy, then turn off so it's not completely cooked, but cooked down a bit -- again, not done, just partly cooked so it can be reheated and finished in a couple minutes
  • Put the caper, wine, lemon sauce together in a big sautee pan, so it's ready to throw the par-cooked breasts into for final minute of cooking
  • Decorate the birthday desserts
  • Put the mashed potatoes in the oven at about 350 for final hour leading up to dinner.
  • Chop chives for mashed potatoes.

Thursday Evening -- 7:45 (at the end of cocktails) to about 8:05 when dinner is served.

  • Put buttered and sliced baguettes or pane rustica in oven for final 15 minutes in with the mashed potatoes.
  • Dress salad with lemon, olive oil, salt pepper.
  • Sautee the breasts in the lemon wine caper sauce for just a minute or so and plate with all the sauce flowing over all the pieces and put on table
  • Take mashed potatoes out of oven, mix a little and throw in some fresh chives. Put on table.
  • Warm up the spinach for a couple minutes to finish their cooking -- being careful to keep tossing in the pot so you don't overcook any leaves....and put in bowl on the table!
  • Take bread out of the oven...and put it on the table!

I've posted a couple of the recipes that I used that I loved. The mashed potatoes are my own variation of the Silver Palate Cookbook "Thanksgiving Potatoes" recipe which has butter, sour cream and cream cheese...this is why you can reheat them the next day and they are actually fluffier and better when you do!

Buon BIRTHDAY Appetito!

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