D Stands for Dinner and Disaster

I’ve written before of the self doubt that arrives when I have French people over for dinner. They have all of that history of fine food and they’ve eaten it all of their lives. So I was having two couples over. Both of the men were French (and there’s Maurice too) and one of the women was a gourmet cook. She’s incredible in the kitchen. She could be on one of those cooking shows where they give you five ingredients and say, “Go”. She would win hands down.
So I was a little nervous when I was planning the dinner and I found a really good recipe for chicken that I tried out with Maurice first. It was chicken breasts pounded thin then rolled up with fried bacon, braised shallots, lemon zest and parmasean cheese. It has to all be held together with toothpicks which is tedious, then browned in a skillet and baked in the oven. After they are finished, you remove the toothpicks and slice the rolls into decorative discs and place them in a little arc on the plate and put a fantastic sauce on top made of wine, chicken broth, and cream. It tasted fabulous so I decided to make it for my dinner guests.

I had the chicken ready before they were due to arrive thinking it would hurt to keep the chicken warm in the oven for thirty minutes or so while we had drinks before. Well, being French they were of course late but the main problem was that they came by car and there just isn’t any place to park in our neighborhood, especially with work going on installing the nearby tram. Everyone came in our apartment except the driver who drove around looking for a place and he didn’t find one for almost one hour. We had already poured champagne for everyone thinking he would arrive at any minute and by the time he finally came it, it was flat as we kept waiting for him. My vegetable side dish of zucchini and carrots was soggy by now. But when we finally ate the very dry chicken which was so overdone that I could barely get the by now soft tooth picks out and couldn’t cut it into nice little discs either, but everyone said loved it. I was really upset which I kept to myself I think. We ended dinner with that great dessert that I posted about earlier and that was the high point of the meal. We had a fun time and I think that was the important thing. I just need to discover a dish that can sit for a couple of hours without becoming to dry. At least with barbeque that’s not a problem.

9 thoughts to “D Stands for Dinner and Disaster”

  1. The chicken dish sounds delicious, and if you think about it, it wasn’t your cooking but the waiting and warming that was a disaster. I know what you mean though, always going back and thinking, what if I’d done this instead…

  2. My mother was, in her heyday, the queen of dinner parties. I mean, she really loved it and took it seriously. When she and my dad were still married, he sometimes invited the boss over for dinner. So one time, near Christmas, my mother made one of my favorite desserts using chocolate wafer cookies with real whipped cream in the shape of a log; easy to make, just time consuming to layer the cream in between the cookies, etc. Well, the boss’s wife loved it and was really impressed and asked how to make it, so of course my mom told her how.

    The next time my parents were invited to the boss’s house, the boss’s wife told my mom she would be serving my mother’s chocolate/whipped cream log dessert. Well, when the big moment arrived — the poor woman was nearly in TEARS… because instead of real whipped cream she had used the spray can kind, which isn’t at ALL the same as the real stuff, and it had completely disintegrated! All there was on the plate was a pile of soggy chocolate wafer cookies! I guess better that it happened to the boss’s wife than the other way around, but still, my mother felt bad for her. (PS don’t try this dessert with Cool Whip, either.)

    My mom being one of those super Martha Stewart types, I grew up the total opposite! I never wanted to learn to cook or be in the kitchen with her; she was too demanding and too intimidating. So I get very stressed out having people over for dinner. We had a French couple here just for apéro last weekend and I was freaking out about it, given that our house is full of packing boxes and I am NOT an elegant Frenchwoman who works in Protocol for the government. But it was fine in the end and they were very nice. I just don’t like the stress of entertaining like that. Give me a good old casual barbecue, any day!

  3. Oh, Linda, what a bummer. I am not sure anything much would survive that kind of wait. Not your fault at all……and it sounded like a pretty complicated recipe.

  4. The good thing was that you could tell that people had a fun time. When I do a dinner for people, I can never really appreciate the food myself – it’s only if there are leftovers the next day that I realize…hmmm, this is/was really good (hopefully!) With a few glasses of wine, most people seem to appreciate the food – especially if they’ve been waiting a while!!!

  5. That dish needs a white wine sauce or something to keep it moist. Like Paupiettes etc. Give it an other try. Then it can wait esp if you place it in a covered dish.
    Or make your fabulous daube. Very few people take the time to do it and it can sit forever.

  6. ………..but they did have a fun time and that counts for a lot!! Know it’s frustrating awaiting company when they’re late………food can only be held so long. Bet you couldn’t wait to open more wine and get a buzz on to ease the pain….that’s what I would have done, lol!!

  7. A cassoulet perhaps? There are plenty of variations on that. I wouldn’t have the guts to attempt anything as elaborate as your chicken dish for French people. So, kudos to you!!

  8. I agree, not your fault on the time, it was good before, and what counts the most is the laughter and time spent together!

  9. Glad you at least had a great evening. I wuld have freaked….and not known what to do next. I hatethe lateness part where people just show when they think it’s okay. I guess that’s the way of today….I prefer the promptness and time to relax (planned) then dinner…..I guess I would have to find a dish that holds for a long time -or throw it on the grill as we do in SoCal…….

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