When weekend guests are coming, I certainly prepare in advance, but I don't like to plan exactly is going to be served at the table. Most of my preparations are things I do to make things easier for myself when the time comes to fix dinner. Trying to stick exactly to a menu and schedule doesn't work for me. Flexibility is important when you have guests that stay a few days, you never know what they're going to want to do. I love weekend guests because my house is clean, the fridge is stocked, and we've got great company to visit with! I've spent some quality time in advance to give myself lots of choices about what to serve.
Prepare a bunch of things halfway - I make sure I have fresh pastry crust chilled in the fridge, I have a pot of veal stock and a pot of chicken stock going, I have a nice herb bouquet, etc. So that we can look together at the market and choose something fresh to flesh out the larder. It's nice to include them in the meal planning, and I can ask them what they're in the mood for.
This weekend my sister-in-law had a baby, the first of her generation. The proud grandparents came to stay chez nous, and I served simple things like tartes, soups, and individual terrines which were a breeze to serve and I could use as a backup when I didn't have time. Of course I did my very best and served food that tasted just right, but I didn't try any fancy culinary feats nor did I make big messes in the kitchen while they were here either.
It's best, when you have family to visit, to give them your best but also make sure not to spend too much time or money. That way they not only feel welcome, but comfortable that you're enjoying them - they get good home cooked meals without feeling like the host is working too hard.
I did do some things to prepare in advance before they arrived so that the dishes they were served would have that extra touch. For example I made a rutabaga and smoked pork belly puree which was applied in a layer to the bottom of a quiche to give it that special something. I prepared a veal demi-glace to add that touch of home made richness to soups and purees, but I didn't spend too much time in the kitchen around mealtimes.
After a long afternoon visiting with Aude's new baby, we came home and it was easy to throw together a batch of little aperetif tartlettes to take the edge off while I prepared a nice chicken potato soup with that morning's market pickings.
Friday's dinner was a simple pork belly quiche, salad, and the cheese plate.
Saturday lunch we enjoyed a Parsnip salad, magret de canard with vin de noix / veal liaison sauce, cheese plate, and parsnip cake.
Saturday dinner were the little tartlettes above, potato and chicken soup, salad, and cheese.
Sunday lunch were individual chicken and lentil terrines, cabillaud with a sabayon, salad, cheese plate, and birthday cake for Yves.
Labels: Winter 05-06