Suggestions for trying to pull off 3 courses in a rental kitchen?

I'm spending New Year's weekend with friends in a rented cabin that is stocked with "kitchen standards" according to the owners. I want to make an impressive meal for my friends (ideally 3 courses) but have no idea what kind of equipment I'll have at my disposal. I have the rest of today to prep in my own kitchen and tomorrow in the rental kitchen. I'm also not averse to taking some pots and pans with me as needed. Anyone have any suggestions of menu/recipes/ideas so that I can pull this off?

  • Posted by: afox001
  • December 29, 2011


boulangere December 29, 2011
And have lots of wine on hand. You'll have a blast and have good stories to tell about it all.
bigpan December 29, 2011
I travel regularly to my vacation condo and take my essential spice kit. As I rent out my condo it only has salt and pepper (although a full set of Henkle and pots, pans, silpat etc.). My spice kit is a plastic box with small plastic ziplock bags - 2"x4" - with about two dozen spices ranging from tagine to sea salts to wasabi to whatever. With local ingredients I can do pretty much anything. Another essential item is tinfoil.
Sam1148 December 29, 2011
Double Yes on the foil! I was going to make roasted potatoes and the cabin didn't even have a sheet pan or foil.
Back up plan was cube them, nuke'em, oil them and fry them.
Sam1148 December 29, 2011
One favorite meal for cabin rentals for me is a shrimp boil. You do need to bring a large stock pot and stainer tho.
Zatarain's dry seafood boil in the bag. Extract the flavors by simmering a can of beer and a couple of cut up lemons with the bag a few mins, Fill with water add salt. Then add cut up sausages, boil a few mins, then corn on the cob (probably out of season) cut into thirds, then small potatoes...boil and when the potatoes are tender add shrimp. Drain and dump on news print with lemon slices and cocktail sauce.

Don't forget to bring your own salt and pepper grinder. (I find the mc cormick pre-packed grinders have a very nice pepper blend and travel well) The cabin might just have a shaker and iodized salt.
Don't forget to bring water---most cabins are on well water; check on that. And well water can often be high mineral and sometimes with a sulfur smell. If you're doing dried beans---a high mineral water will really make them tough to soften.

You can freeze soups in large ziplocks..double bagged...and use them as ice packs for the trip up.
And foil...most rentals won't have foil, unless someone left a roll, along with paper towels, wax paper.
We keep a large square tupperware box filled with spices, salt, soups, soy sauce, dry good, snacks, noodles..etc.etc. for quick packing. Oh, and bloody mary mix...or V8 and worchester sauce, sparkling water---and alka selzter.
But then again, we tend to over pack, however we're pre-paired.
hardlikearmour December 29, 2011
I did Thanksgiving in a rental kitchen. Amanda is dead right about the knife situation - bring at least one. I measured out the dry ingredients for the recipes into storage containers that I labeled which was a great help.
Keep it simple! The house probably won't have a decent blender, and I would be amazed if it had a mixer or food processor. If you want to make anything that requires special equipment or pans, bring your own! Don't forget to have something fabulous for breakfast the next morning - a baked french toast or breakfast bread pudding or warm custard spoon bread. Something you can whip together easily the night before or the morning of. We had egg pancakes one morning and warm custard spoon bread another - both were well-received.
Sam1148 December 29, 2011
For breakfast. We do Eggs Benedict. English muffins travel very well. And I cheat using a package Hollandaise sauce powder.
And cheat again..well not really a cheat, but IMHO one of the best ways to poach an egg easily.
A large sheet of plastic wrap in a teacup SPRAY WITH OIL..put in the egg, gather the edges tie a knot..Boil for 3 mins. Don't forget to spray with oil first---I did that ONCE. Just remember to make the sheet large enough to gather up and tie knot. Which you snip off.
The English Muffins can do double duty as buns for small hamburgers for lunch.
Kristen M. December 29, 2011
Sorry, that last answer's actually from me!
Food52 December 29, 2011
Fun! Smart of you to try to get as much done ahead as possible, and to formulate backup plans for equipment. It might help to know how many people and which way you're leaning in terms of protein, etc. If you have time to make them today, soups (like this: and braises (like this: that reheat well and whose flavors improve after a day or two would be great. With these, I'd just add a simple green salad (maybe with some heartier winter greens like kale: and a dessert you can make ahead, that doesn't require an oven ( -- don't forget to pack ramekins!).
Author Comment
I beautiful rustic soup for starters. maybe a chestnut, or mustard greens soup. 1 pot and ingredients
second course could be something like a cassarole or a potted stew with mashed sweet potato. 1 pot or cassarole dish and maybe a saute pan. or maybe a briased item like short ribs over polenta.
dessert can be a lemon curd napolian on crisp filo layers. I use egg whites and sugar to make a crispy crackery filo layer. 4 to 6 layers is great. then stud the jarred lemon curd with pommigranite ariels. a baking sheet, a dish towell to keep things moist and a cutting board, knife, and a pastery or basting brush. you can use a folded paper towell as a pastry brush in a pinch.
Amanda H. December 29, 2011
Bring one great knife that you can use for everything -- I wouldn't count on the house having a sharp knife. If you have time today, I'd prepare a braised dish for the main course because if you make it today, it'll taste even better tomorrow, then the main course would be mostly done and all you'd have to do is reheat it. I'd also consider making a cake today and serving it for dessert. Then if you want to make a sauce for the cake, an icing, or whipped cream, you can do that at the house tomorrow. For the first course, how about a great salad -- that's something that can't go wrong in a rental kitchen!
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