Tips for mid-week dinner party at home : setting the table and an easy fish starter

Tips for pulling off a mid-week dinner party:
An impromptu dinner invite same morning and voila … dinner for 4 tonight chez moi. Now, i was not working that day so i had time to decide what i wanted to cook and rush to the stores to get it all. If I had been at work that day, i would ‘ve created my menu based on ingredients i can get at the same store. And pulled wine from my reserve vs going to the shop and getting wine advise, but i had some time.

I always tidy up, set the table and refill the candles holders first, as this is what your guests see when they walk in and makes them feel at home instantly. Even if you are running behind with the cooking, they will feel welcomed and relaxed.

While i set my table (iron table cloths and napkins, shine crystal, polish silver and think of little something fun) i brainstormed with myself on what to cook. If you are stuck for inspiration Pinterest is your friend and my blog too :-).

At any given time i ‘ve an ironed table cloth and napkins at the ready. But colorful place mats and funny paper napkins can do the trick easily too when you are in a rush. Just have something ready.

I usually serve some easy snacks at apero as guests arrive at different times after work ( often traffic being the big culprit) so you want to be flexible and not have things dry out in the oven or getting soggy in the fridge. Just a few exquisite pistachios and a yummy dip with crackers does the trick every time. Also people don’t want to eat too much already before they start the meal.

When mid-week entertaining bear in mind, no-one wants a late, heavy meal so keep it light, and easy and i often forgo a real dessert but serve little waffles or madeleines to have with tea or coffee. I generally serve a starter and a main but i have also done heavy hors d’oeuvres at apero and just a main course. It depends what you ve time for and the timing of your guests. If one is going to be a lot later than the others, they might get hungry so might be better to serve more snacks up front.

Table decoration : i went for mouse and stone grey table cloths and pink napkins, which i laid under the plate to give extra pop of color. I love tulips and got a bunch of white and pink different types and arranged them in 3 glass containers in the middle of the table. I used the silver serving dishes to hide a secret message in them. And although I didn’t do a table plan (as it was just 4 of us) oddly enough the little messages were very appropriate and fitting to my guests, who had randomly chosen their seat.

Food: I got some maviar from Petrossian as it is our favorite to start off with. As a starter i served en papillote (in parchment parcel) white fish with spinach and broccoli. As a main i braised a pork roast and oven-baked carrots with apples, feta cheese and pomegranate seeds.  Both recipes were inspired from Libelle Lekker, one of my favorite local foodie magazines.


For the fish starter:
Need for 4p:
about 120g white fish per person – i take what looks good at the fishmonger, this time it was black saithe (lieu noir)
1 small broccoli
handful of fresh spinach leaves
1/2 lemon per person, 1 lime for zest
40 ml white wine
40 ml vegetable stock
parchment or baking paper and kitchen rope
for the dressing : 100 ml yogurt ( i used soy), lime juice and chives
1. clean, cut and blanch the broccoli. Cut per person a large parchment sheet to make into a parcel ( about 50 cm). Cut the fish per person in 3 cm size pieces.
2. pre-heat oven to 180C and layer the parchment squares with a few spinach leaves, the cut fish, some blanched broccoli and grate some lime zest over it. Crunch the parcel together forming a pouch or parcel and add some stock and white wine to it. Ty it with the rope and place in baking dish.
3. bake in oven for 15 minutes. Prepare the dressing: mix the yogurt with lime ( or lemon) juice and chop the chives, season with salt and pepper. Serve the parcel with the dressing on the side and a lemon wedge.
Tip: i don’t salt the fish before baking as the stock will have some salt content and i prefer a well seasoned dressing and offering salt and pepper at the table.

I will post Saturday the main course i cooked.

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