Cooking · Foodie · Shenanigans · Twenty/20

Twenty/20: The Dinner Party

Flowers from my mom.:) (c)2013 Reese M.

This could have easily been titled: “Why you should never make dinner party plans while half in the bag during New Year’s Eve“.

First things first: The Dinner Party Plan:

My husband and I went out for New Year’s Eve with some friends of ours. All six of us went to a local wine bar for food…and LOTS of wine. It was great fun, as it always is with them, but there are always side effects when we all get together.

We have a tendency to plan out when we’ll all see each other next. It’s not a bad thing, and I’m glad that we have enough foresight to do this kind of planning – otherwise we would all see each other much less, I’m sure. I had told them all about my plans for January (this project) and they seemed intrigued by it. They know that I am a bit of a cook, but I think that the idea of me cooking my way through a cookbook is perhaps something that they would have not necessarily thought I would take on.

Midway through the conversation, the idea was put forth that we could all get together for a dinner during my project. To which I readily agreed.

Now, I didn’t really think this through, because like I said, we were all a little half in the bag at this point. I really had no idea how much work this whole thing was going to be in practice. While I have enjoyed doing all of this more than I can possibly say…it is A LOT of work. Between formulating what I’ll say about the essay portions, cooking my selected recipe, and then writing about said recipe…it’s more work than you’d think.

Not to mention the pressure I tend to put on myself…and the fact that I know that Ruhlman is at least reading a few of my entries (Hi Michael!) is well, nerve-wracking. I’ve taken pride in that I haven’t screwed up that much so far. It really should have been clear to me that hosting a dinner party for this would be a little beyond what I could handle.

So as the days flew right by, I began to realize just how much I was going to have to do for tonight.

There were random changes in everyone’s schedules, which honestly ended up being a blessing. So although my friends couldn’t make it here, my parents were able to accept my last-minute invite. Thank goodness for that, because I don’t even want to think about what kind of epic amounts of leftovers tonight’s meal would have produced had it only been two of us.

When timing is everything – The Recipe: Grill-Roasted Prime Rib:

I’ll just say right off the bat that this is not what I prepared. When I set out to get the ingredients for this a few days in advance, I spoke to a butcher at my local Whole Foods Market.

This is what the butcher told me when I called asking for a 6lb beef rack: a lot of local supermarkets will have trouble coming up with a 6lb beef rack due to limited supplies after the holidays. It kind of makes sense, in that prime rib is a popular choice for many family holiday meals. On the other hand, really?

Because I have not been doing this kind of cooking long enough to develop a relationship with this butcher (or any butcher for that matter), I had to trust what he was telling me. I mean, why would they make something like that up? Meh, maybe I’m just naïve.

So right off the bat, I had a compromised starting point. I elected to get a 4lb beef tenderloin (as it was listed as an alternative in the book) and go from there.

As for the grilling part, well that kind of went out the window. Mostly because it’s rainy and cold here (well cold for Northern California…I know, I know…we don’t have weather here), and our grill is in what I call its “Winter dormancy”.  I decided I could try using an indoor grill that I have, but that idea quickly went out the window as well…mostly due to logistical reasons.

So for tonight – I roasted a beef tenderloin. To be fair, I know what Ruhlman was driving at in using the Grill-Roast method. The idea is to have the meat seared by grilling and finish off by  roasting. I’ll probably re-visit this recipe during the summer when I have a clean and functional grill to work with; not to mention the ability to get a beef rack for prime rib.

Finally – Here’s tonight’s Recipe Rundown:

Mixed Green Salad

Roasted Red Potatoes

Steamed Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Beef Tenderloin

Dessert: Angel Food Cake with Whipped Cream (from the Sugar section)

At least there’s *some* photo proof. My injured thumb, ladies and gentlemen. (c)2013 Reese M.

And now, from the “this-stuff-only-happens-to-me” file:

– I managed to take a piece of my thumb with a knife.


I know. C’est la vie. At least the meal was a hit with my parents.:)

8 thoughts on “Twenty/20: The Dinner Party

    1. I agree, LK! And just to be clear, both J and I were bummed that not only you guys but F & B couldn’t make it either. We were all not thinking clearly…weeknight in the middle of the winter?! Crazytown.:)

  1. I say whatever meal doesn’t kill us (or our guests) makes us stronger. Looking forward to reading about your prime rib adventures when it’s back in stock. And hope your thumb feels better! Both my husband and I have been there.

  2. I don’t have a grill of any sort so won’t be using any of his grill recipes. But I pan sear a lot of cuts of meat, especially beef, and finish in the oven. I swear by that method for steaks.

    1. Searing steaks before finishing them off in the oven is a great way to go. As for the grilling, you can probably still get some use of the recipes in that section by searing the meat or whatever first. Prime Rib might be a bit challenging.

      Or, if you’re able, you can get yourself a small indoor grill pan. There are some really great ones that you can use on your stove top. There are even some electric ones that aren’t bad.

      Sure, it’s not the same as having hot coals, but it would still work. It would be cheaper (and take up way less space) than investing in a grill if you don’t have room for it. A good cast iron grill pan would probably be worth the investment if you ask me.:)

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