Dinner Club - The Frazzled Pan - Cooking for Real Blog at Allrecipes.com - 133485

The Frazzled Pan - Cooking for Real

Dinner Club 
Oct. 29, 2009 11:55 am 
Updated: Nov. 1, 2009 4:53 am
Circa 1973… my parents belonged to a “gourmet group”, a rotating dinner party that strived to bring the flavors of the world to the suburbs of Chicago.  I’m still not quite sure why they joined this group. At the time, Dad ate nothing but simply prepared meats, potatoes, and (canned) vegetables.  The poor guy was seriously challenged by anything remotely “gourmet”.  Swedish meatballs, fondue, and sukiyaki were all the rage at the time, but certainly not his cup of tea and definitely not his idea of dinner. (I think he’d eat before they left for the party and stick to martinis once he got there.)  I remember watching them leave for their evenings; Mom in her flared pantsuits and Dad with his sideburns neatly trimmed, wafts of Youth Dew and Old Spice lingering as they swept out the door. 
I had all but forgotten about the gourmet group when my girlfriend Cat called an important breakfast meeting.  She had an idea and wanted to float it by my friend Jules and me. Over coffee and pastries, Cat asked us if we’d consider starting up a club......a dinner club. 
A dinner club?  Seriously? … Wow!  No need to ask me twice, sign me up!
So there, in that little coffee shop on Queen Anne Hill, our dinner club was born.  Just three couples, one dinner party a month, anything goes.
This month, it was my turn to host.  I decided to have a French meal.  My whole theme revolved around a recipe that I’d been saving for a special event, Salmon a la Nage - salmon and mussels in a broth of white wine, butter and herbs. I couldn’t wait to try it!  The recipe has been on my desk for a year.... ever since I carefully (and quietly..) tore it out of a magazine at the orthodontist’s office.
Theme decided on, I built my menu.
Pate, Roasted Pepper Mousse, Marinated Crudité, and Nicoise Olives
Salmon a la Nage
Baby Greens with Fennel and Tarragon Vinaigrette
French Goat, Blue, Gruyere and Cougar Gold Cheeses - Red Grapes and Candied Pecans
Pear and Almond Tart
When I see the menu written down, it looks difficult. Really, though, it was easy!  I marinated the crudite (veggies) the night before and made the tart the morning of the dinner.  The salmon dish took just minutes to prepare and I worked on it as the gang munched on hors d’oeuvres.  The rest of the meal came pre-made from the store.
It was really a great evening, full of good food, good wine, and lots of laughter. We ate, course by course, and were at the table for hours.   I went to bed that night with happy thoughts of our dinner club and the great friends that we share these evenings with. I also let my mind drift back to the nights that my parents would gather with their "gourmet group".  As I was falling off to sleep, I swear I caught the faintest whiff of Youth Dew and Old Spice......
Salmon a la Nage
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pear and almond tart
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salmon on the stove
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cheese board
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Oct. 29, 2009 12:12 pm
blanc de blanc... i love your posts, actually bring a tear to my eye!! not a big seafood fan, but the ingriedents made my mouth water!! keep blogging!
Oct. 29, 2009 2:01 pm
That's such a good idea! We do similar dinners, but they're hit and miss. We should make them a monthly event! I can't wait to hear what the menu is next month!
Oct. 29, 2009 3:03 pm
How fantastic. :) The photos were lovely...and the menu sounded delicious! We used to host dinner parties at our home once a week before we had children. Lots of wonderful evenings filled with great food, great friends and great conversation! I love your idea of a dinner club.
Oct. 29, 2009 3:16 pm
What a wonderful story. And your menu looks so delicious. Such a lucky group of friends!
Oct. 29, 2009 9:46 pm
Would you and your friends be willing to commute 4+ hours south so I can host one night? I'm more than willing to come up there and join you. Sounds like so much fun and your more than vivid recollections of the scents took me back too. Great blog, you need to write more often, I've missed reading you.
Nov. 1, 2009 4:53 am
Oh my Gosh....you really brought a tear to my eye!! What fun we had! We even made up fancy menus to go with the theme......... we'll have to start something like that up again.........but Dad doesn't wear Old spice anymore nor do I wear Youth Dew......some things do change!! Your dinner pictures looked fabulous!!! My mouth was watering!! That's my girl!!!
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Home Town
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Living In
Kirkland, Washington, USA

Member Since
Aug. 2008

Cooking Level
Not Rated

Cooking Interests
Baking, Slow Cooking, Mexican, Indian, Italian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Healthy, Quick & Easy

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About Me
I recently returned to work full time and -- life's gotten pretty hectic. I have 2 really busy (and really hungry) teenage girls, a very active husband and an old yellow lab who really misses having me around the house. I love to cook and feel that sitting down to a meal with the family is really important. Unfortunately, I don't have the time or, frankly, the energy, to put a lot of work into meals every night. I'm determined to figure out how to get a delicious and healthy family dinner on the table with a minimum of fuss. As I figure it out, I'll post on my blog.
My favorite things to cook
I went to culinary school, taught cooking classes and read cookbooks for entertainment. Do we eat a gourmet meal every night? No way. Weeknight meals are quick and easy and, usually, nutritious. Weekends are when I have fun with my food. My weekend favorites: anything Greek, anything Italian, breads, soups and braises. I like trying new foods and techniques and love to have dinner parties.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Dolmathes (Greek rolled grape leaves) for birthdays, gnocci for Christmas Eve, pitzelle cookies with my Italian pitzelle iron, jack-o-lantern cake for Halloween and avgolemono soup for whoever is in need of comfort.
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