I'm not talking buffet for 40 or having a friend join us for dinner. I'm talking a nice, sit down meal. See, most of the time I'm either throwing a party with more people than I have chairs or I'm adding a friend or two to family meals. But.
Lately, I've been in a position to have people a little bit older or more sophisticated over. Some of them are food snobs, some are just more formal or are in a position that means breakfast for dinner or a taco bar just won't cut it. Either way, I love to feed people & I'm capable in the kitchen. But the idea of creating a cohesive meal without killing myself or breaking the bank...it scares me. I think because when it's a plated meal, or just a formal setting, I only get one chance to get it right. At a buffet or family meal, there are always second or third options if someone doesn't like something or a particular item doesn't 'flow' So, I spend a couple of days thinking, pondering, attempting to make flavours work.
So. What are your go-to menus? How do you get the flavours to work? Link up the courses so the meal "flows"? How do you serve a starter--and what do you serve?? So far all I manage is to throw some nuts and olives or cheese/crackers on the table. It's not totally formal, so serving dishes on the table are fine. But it seems like the starter/dessert should be plated...I just can't figure out how to do that! Also, does the main always need to be a meaty dish with sides? If not , what do you serve? Pasta? Stew? I keep defaulting to roast chicken, salad, and potatoes. How...exciting. I also can't invite people over twice with the same menu... ;)
A couple of notes:
-I don't have access to places like Trader joe's, Sam's Club, etc.
-I sometimes have to leave and come back during the dinner hours (so i prep, someone else serves/entertains, then I make it back), so pre-prepped meals are key.
-I have a very diverse group of friends. Dinner last week was American/Australian/British/Indo-Chinese. The week before added Indian or Peruvian.
-I get bored making the exact same dishes over & over--but I love to tweak stuff to make it work.
I enjoy having people over, but here I am a grown woman intimidated by inviting a couple of people over. Give me 50 people, I can do it. Give me 5 and I'm dying. Can you help?? :)