Sunday, April 5, 2009

Dinner party planning

I've invited 20 people for dinner on the 18th April to celebrate my friend Jo getting her PhD. And I'm going to Australia on the 20th, first thing in the morning. It all requires a bit of forethought and planning.

I'm having four courses and decided to have a sort of Asian tour - the first course will be Japanese nibbles, the second will be Malaysian soups and salads, the main will be Indian curries, and the desserts will be Thai. There will be at least one vegetarian, and another guest who has had a quintuple bypass (despite being thin and fit - bad genes) and eats virtually no saturated fat. And is also allergic to shellfish, now that I think about it.

I can't seat that many people, so it's going to be a buffet. Unless eight of them can't come, in which case we'll sit at the table. Or rather tables - two pushed together.

Most of the food I choose needs to be able to be made ahead and reheated, and I need to keep in mind the number of elements I can use, and the number of pots and pans I have.

My tentative menu goes like this:

Japanese nibblestonkatsu, inari-zushi, tamagoyaki with nori, hamaguri-zushi, oshi-zushi, fukumé-ni (shitake mushrooms, slow cooked in shoyu)
Malaysian soups and saladsprawn laksa, mixed vegetable salad, fish and herb salad, vegetables in mild curry
Indian curriesbutter chicken (love it, must have), lamb kofta, South Indian pepper chicken, beef vindaloo, chickpea curry, spinach dhal, pea and potato bhaji, basmati rice, coriander chutney, mint raita.
Thai dessertsperidot crystal balls, golden haired rice, fresh fruit chunks (melon, pineapple, papaya), mango and coconut rice pudding

The things that need to be made at the last minute are: the coconut rice pudding, the prawn part of the laksa, cooking the veges in the mild curry, the pea & potato bhaji.

Things that can be made well in advance (maybe even frozen) then heated up are: the pepper chicken; beef vindaloo (can be made in slow cooker even); butter chicken; lamb kofta; chickpea curry; spinach dhal; soup part of laksa, and prepping the prawns and veges; mild vege curry sauce; tonkatsu (which I can reheat in the panini press).

The fukumé-ni can be prepared days in advance - it keeps for a couple of weeks apparently.

The basmati rice can be made in the afternoon and reheated in the microwave. Apart from the coconut rice pudding, the desserts are served cold and can be made the night before at least. The sushi things and the shredded cabbage for the tonkatsu need to be prepared lateish in the afternoon.

As far as serving dishes go, the Japanese course will be served on big white plastic trays I bought for a party once, and people can help themselves onto saucers I think - I could use the small plates but then some of them would need washing before the next course. The Malaysian course will be plated in the kitchen and people can choose which dish they want, and share if they want to. It'll be using two big pots and two bowls. The dessert will be done likewise, and will be stored in plastic apart from the medium pot and steamer for the rice. The Indian course will be a help-yourself one, and will need my three white casserole dishes for heating and serving the butter chicken, the lamb kofta, and the pepper chicken. The vindaloo will be in the slow cooker so I'll just need a serving bowl for it - or I could use the slow cooker bowl I suppose, although it won't match. The pea & potato bhaji can be cooked in a wok, while the chickpea curry and spinach dhal are reheating in the pots vacated by the Malaysian course. I have enough non-oven-proof serving dishes for all of these. The rice can be nuked in my big pyrex dish and then served in a wide white bowl.

That's my thinking so far anyway.

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