since we are all vaccinated and healthy, we can finally host a dinner party. YAY! And for this Halloween dinner party I am going all out with a full course dinner. My inspiration is the Addams family. With the matriarch Morticia being one of the first role models in my life, it seems fitting to celebrate a bit of freedom after all the lockdowns with this theme. Let’s start with our menu first!
I think this won’t be the most elaborate menu I ever did, but it will have a bit of complexity. It will be 9 course meal after all. So let’s start:
shrimp and cucumber bites
Cigar Bosnian pie
beet gnocchi with brown butter sauce
Pan seared salmon on white bean puree
pomegranate and red wine sorbet
turkey breast roll with roasted fall veggies or purple potatoes and gravy. Purple potatoes are not always available where I live, so it depends if I find them. Hopefully I will. They add a bit of quirkiness to otherwise ordinary dish
Fall mixed salad – crunchy red mixed salad with thin slices of Hokkaido pumpkin and dark violet radishes
black forest petit fours – I would make them quite dark in color by using the black cocoa powder in the glaze.
If I have the time I will make meringues. Meringues are easy to make waay ahead. You just need to preserve them in air tight container so they don’t pull moisture. But they are also easy to buy already gluten free, because they don’t require any flour. This part of the meal can be ready made and bought, so no need to stress about it.
I will also make sweet salami, using the cake scraps and some nuts and cherries.
My cheese board will include dark fruit like red grapes and pomegranates, and I also have grown dark violet radishes which I will put on the cheese board as well. I think I will buy gluten free crackers this time. I can find some really nice and crunchy ones.
Coffee & Tea
Coffee, tea, nuts & chocolate covered fried fruit
Cocktail of the evening will be virgin Halloween punch. Hopefully I can find some blood oranges to use in it. Since we will enter the evening with a bubbly and then continue with white wine, it would be good to offer a non alcoholic cocktail as an option. I will put some liquors like rum and triple sec that would go well mixed in the punch. But this way everyone can choose if they want alcoholic version or not.
Since this is quite a big menu, it is of the utmost importance to have it planned. I work full time, so I also need to take that into consideration when preparing for the dinner party. This means that I will start at least 5 days before the set date. Luckily my ADHD works well with smaller tasks. If I chunk it all up and put it into a task sheet, then I have less stressful time with the preparations, and it all is less chaotic then usual (chaos is still there, there’s no escaping the chaos 🙂 .
-5 days and counting
The first things I will prep will be the things that can be frozen – so sorbet and gnocchi. Gnocchi take a lot of time to prepare because beets need to be baked well, it needs to cool down and then you need to make the dough. After they are shaped, you can freeze them and keep them in the freezer until the minute that you will boil them.
The sorbet takes a little time to prep, but in case you don’t have the churner, you have to constantly stir it every so often to create the small size ice crystals. When it is finalized than it can just stay in the freezer until the dinner party. I just take it out of the freezer so it temps a bit after the soup course.
-4 days and counting
This day we will make our stock, since it does take some time to cook and we will use it for both soup dish and as a base for the gravy. I will set aside a part of the stock to be used in gravy and a part of it I will clarify to make the consommé. I will keep my consommé & stock in the freezer until they are needed.
-3 days and counting
We will now start with our dessert. Today we will make the sponge cake and the cherry filling. Since we have to wait for the filling and the cake to cool down before assembly, we will assemble the petit fours next day. This day we will use to prepare out home for the guests. I noticed that the best time to do a bigger cleanup is 3 days before the event. Then the next couple of days I can do the touchups here and there and our home stays spotless. 3 days is maximum we can keep it up though 🙂 Cleaning it earlier does not make the final product cleaner 😀
If I find the time I will make meringues as well. Since the oven is hot, why not use it. And meringues need to dry slowly so they are perfectly fine to make while you are running around and cleaning.
-2 days and counting
Dinner party is almost here and we have already ticked a couple of things off our list. Today we will assemble our petit fours. I will cut the petit fours using a round cookie cutter and then assemble them with filling and frosting. Then I will add a coat of frosting on them and put them into the freezer to cool down quickly.
While they are cooling down I need to make the glaze, and cool down the glaze enough to make it coat the petit fours when I take them out of the freezer, but it needs to be warm enough to be easily pourable and not solidify on the desert as it touches it. I will take the petit fours out of the freezer 5 minutes before I start the pour. Then when they are covered, I will allow them to set before I put them on the platter.
I will combine the cake leftovers and nuts and dried fruit into the sweet salami. This way no leftover will be unused 🙂 . What we don’t eat I can freeze and have a quick dessert any time someone wants something sweet or guests arrive.
-1 days and counting
The day before the party we will finish up the pastry part of the courses. I will make the pulled pastry. After kitchen part is done I will set & decorate the table. Not thinking about the decorations and table on the day of the party is a huge advantage. I will also assemble punch and leave it to steep in the fridge.
Day of the Halloween dinner party
Today we will finish up the dishes and assemble the rest. The day will be divided into morning schedule and afternoon schedule. The things that need to marinate and wait will be done in the morning. Everything else will be done in the afternoon.
defrost consommé & stock
Roll the turkey rolls and leave them to marinate.
Cube the cucumbers and marinate them in the dressing.
slice the Hokkaido pumpkin
cut the salad leaves
prep the veggies for roasting
assemble & bake the pies
prepare vinaigrette for the salad
grill/pan fry the shrimp and assemble them with cucumbers
arrange the hors d’oeuvres on their platters
roast the turkey rolls & veggies
make bean puree
prepare the brown butter sauce and leave on the side
assemble the cheese platter, keep it in the fridge before the start of the party, then take it out of the fridge.
Important thing to remember is that the dishwasher needs to be clean before the guests arrive. As the party goes on, you should put the dirty dishes into the dishwasher and then put he dishwasher on quick program so you have enough dishes for all the courses. This way the cleanup after the party will also go much quicker.
1 hour before the Halloween dinner party
Do the final cleanup before the party. Make sure that you have all of the dishes you will need to serve the food and prepare them on the spot where they will be easy to serve up. If your guests will be taking their shoes off, make sure you have enough slippers for all of them. Also put the slippers on the visible spot. After that make sure you are dressed and ready.
15 min before the party
Pour the bubbly into the glasses and put the hors d’oeuvres on their spot. Put the cocktail into its container and put it into its spot next to the hors d’oeuvres (cocktail hour!). Go through the serving list one more time & heat up consommé. Take the cheese platter out of the fridge.
Start playing the party music. For dinner parties, don’t play the music too loud. People should be able to talk without issue, but a bit of music background will help with the atmosphere. I find it prevents awkward silence moments, or at least makes them a bit less awkward 🙂
Party and after party
Enjoy your evening, and don’t stress if it’s not perfectly smooth. Things happen, and that’s ok. Much more important is to enjoy the company.
Here’s the report video: