I want to throw a dinner party and am looking for an easy menu since I would be my first time.

I live in France and would be cooking for French people, but am definitely open to other types of cuisine. I'm good at cooking Italian stuff. Oh, healthy suggestions would be awesome! No BBQ stuff though-- I live in an upstairs apt.



Wim October 22, 2013
This winter you may join the European Dinner Parties project at www.EuropeanDinnerParties.com. Every month an easy-to-prepare meal from a different country.
themissingingredient August 5, 2012
Get organized. Choose a simple menu and simple recipes. Amanda's chicken is wonderful and who doesn't love chicken. The shrimp are do ahead. Make flavored popcorn. Once again, keep it simple. Work around recipes that you have made in the past.
lloreen August 5, 2012
The French adore cheesecake - it is pretty much the only non-french dessert that impresses them, in my experience. Try David Leibovitz's blog for a recipe.
Vitello tonatto (veal with tuna sauce) is delicious and can be prepared the day before and served chilled. It actually needs a day in the fridge to mellow. I have read that you can substitute pork if you object to veal.
If you live in Paris, there is a great little Italian market with buffalo mozzarella and other specialty Italian items across from the Pere Lachaise cemetery right near metro Philippe August
In the summer, I like the idea of a variety of antipasti dishes- tomato with good mozzarella and basil, marinated peppers and mushrooms, Vitello tonatto, good olives, and bread. The amaretto cheesecake idea is great. Instead of doing a formal French dinner (which you will inevitably not do in the "correct" manner) why not do something light, lively, and casual. Your guests will probably be charmed.
For next time, I agree with the Mexican suggestion. I made the Barbacoa beef tacos for a Paris dinner party and people inhaled them. They aren't too spicy and you can find all the ingredients in the regular markets.
lorigoldsby August 3, 2012
Since you asked for menu suggestions...and said you were comfortable with Italian dishes...how about a caprese salad bite appetizer, perhaps a potato gnocchi with sage and truffle gatherer's sauce (which can be left in a warming drawer while you do your last minute personal touch up) and an amoretto cheesecake for dessert? Or if you go with the Mexican suggestion...a ceviche can be diced and ready to marinade ...just wait to add your "cooking acid" until after the guests arrive...greet them with a margarita...enchiladas can be prepped and waiting in oven ( and will hold). And brownies with a little spice & heat ( like cayenne and cinnamon)
hkellyis August 4, 2012
Ooh, I likes your Italian menu. That sounded delicious and uncomplicated. Any other menu suggestion?
BoulderGalinTokyo August 3, 2012
I agree with ChefJune to serve something you have tried before. And as Lorigoldsby said, a drink and A SMILE at the door are the best welcome. Forget any excuses, a smile does cover a mile of preparation misses, etc. You should have fun too.
ChefJune August 2, 2012
I can't begin to emphasize enough how important it is that you serve dishes you are comfortable with preparing. If you choose a new dish you have never done before, plan to cook it at least twice before the party. Don't try anything too complicated the first time.

As others have noted, do ALL your prep ahead of time, and select a dessert that can be completed and waiting for service ahead of the party (preferably one that can be made a cay or two ahead). The dishes you have prepared before your guests walk through the door, the better time everyone will have at your dinner.
susan G. August 2, 2012
Look at the 'Amanda's dinner party' series on food52 -- there's a new one posted today, and more archived.
HalfPint August 2, 2012
Since Mexican is rather trendy right now in Europe, how about a Mexican-themed dinner party?

I like this website because a lot of the stuff can be made like a week ahead.

Just remember that the France normally don't like a lot of spicy heat and they seem to adore "le brownie" and rice crispy treats (according to David Lebovitz).
Mlc1977 August 2, 2012
Lori above is right prep what you can ahead of time and feed/drink them as soon as they walk in the door. For the meal don't make something you have never made, it just adds stress, make an old favorite recipe that you can cook with one hand tied behind your back. If you want to experiment go for a fun and fabulous appetizer or desert so that if it doesn't turn out right you really will not care as much. Also if you have a guest/significant other that can help by fixing drinks, opening wine, emptying garbage, clearing plates and helping move food from the kitchen to the table that will help you a lot. Good luck and remember they are your friends they will love what ever you make, even if it all goes to hell and you order pizza.
hkellyis August 2, 2012
Very True!
lorigoldsby August 2, 2012
Whatever you decide for your menu...I encourage you to prep backwards and plan to be done before your guests arrive so that you can enjoy your guests. Dessert is either prettily displayed or in the fridge, dinner is simmering and appetizer is ready to pop in oven (with timer that can be heard) after you have greeted the first guest and offered them a drink...don't feel that you have to hand them something to eat the moment they walk in the door...with a drink in hand, any guest can wait 12-15 minutes for an appetizer to bake. ( and 2 minutes to cool)
hkellyis August 2, 2012
Note taken! :). Thx
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