Growing up we would always have dinner parties with friends and families, my Mother would love hosting and our house became renowned for appetizers and horderves. With my new found love for cooking, there is no surprise that my current hobby is hosting dinner parties. It has always been my dream to visit Paris and since 2020 certainly threw my Europe plans out the window, I thought I would bring a slice of France to my table.
Step 1: Decide your menu
The first and foremost thing to do when hosting a dinner party is sit down and decide your menu. Some of my favourite French cookbooks are:
-Rachel Khoo’s ‘My Little Paris Kitchen’
-Mimi Thorisson’s ‘French Country Cooking’
-And of course, Julia Child’s ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’
Step 2: Grab your supplies
My favourite part about dinner parties is writing a shopping list, heading to the local grocer and grabbing the supplies. It’s almost therapeutic picking out fresh produce, choosing exactly what’s best for your dinner party. Also, I’d advise to call your local butcher in advance if you are sourcing a particular fillet of meat or seafood.
A trip to Dan Murphy’s is also essential, they have a wide range of French champagne, although a tad expensive it just wouldn’t be the same without the French bubbles. I find the Louis Auger Champagne Brut ($35) a crowd pleaser, but if you’re looking for something a tad cheaper, the Aubert Et Fils Brut Champagne ($22) if also a good drop!
Now for the wines, a good red is essential for mains, particularly with a Filet Mignon or Steak Tartare. I always buy the Chateau Paul Mas Clos des Mures ($23) which is a relatively dry Shiraz Grenache Mourvèdre. Dan Murphy’s also has a good variety of Bordeaux wines, although they have always been a tad out of my price range.
Step 3: Setting the Table
In my opinion, how you set the table encapsulates the mood and atmosphere of the evening. Even if your meals end in disaster, a good bottle of red and vivacious conversation at the table can change everything. You don’t always have to go all out buying decor to make a table look sophisticated, you can always jazz the table up with candles and props such as a baguette or book. A champagne bucket will always do the trick too, I got mine from Potterybarn, although no longer available they have another one here.
Here are also some similar champagne coolers:
1. APS Stainless Steel Wine & Champagne Bowl
2. Great Gatsby Ice Bucket Champagne Cooler
If you’ve ever dined at a French restaurant you’ll know the French love for courses. A French entrée does not necessarily have to be light, in most cases they are quite rich such as a cheese souffle or french onion soup. An entrée gives you the chance to balance a meal accordingly, especially to ease you into the champagne before moving onto the reds. Here are my top entrées:
Cheese soufflé (Julia Child’s recipe):
Samantha Ferraro sums up Julia’s recipe here.
*The secret to a great soufflé is gruyère cheese
Oysters in mignonette sauce:
Recipe from Mimi Thorisson, but this recipe is similar.
Scallop in cauliflower puree:
This is a great recipe.
Ceviche with rhubarb:
Recipe from Rachel Khoo.
Salmon, creme fraiche and dill on toasted brioche:
Recipe from Rachel Khoo, but you can find these all over the internet.
Recipe from Rachel Khoo, but I found Rick Steins very similar.
*I did forget to add my prepared egg yolk to this whoops!
If your’e looking for a quick, inexpensive and fresh classic French dish that still seems celebratory, this is the meal for you. Recipe from here.
Go to any French bistro and you will only find blue or rare steak, medium if you’re fanatic. The key to a perfect filet mignon is a super hot pan, lots of seasoning and much resting. I love following Alex the French Cooking guy, and he sums up how to perfect a filet mignon in this video.
Julia Child’s recipe, although it is very technical to follow. I found that CafeDelites has a great adaptation recipe of Julia’s.
Roasted beetroot, apple and carrot salad with goats curd mousse:
This was so hearty for winter and pairs perfectly with red meat. I paired this salad with Beef wellington.
Essential with any Filet Mignon. This is a great recipe.
Glazed Carrots and squash:
Also essential with Filet Mignon, and Paris mash. A peppercorn sauce tops this dish right off!
Now, the thing with French desserts is that they only take a few ingredients and a few steps in the methods, but if you over-whisk or beat by a few seconds, the dish can be ruined. Particularly since majority of traditional French desserts are made with eggs and sugar, it can easily go wrong.
I’ve made both a Creme Caramel and Creme Brulee and both did not set properly as I overwhisked. A souffle therefore is always a good decision. Rachel Khoo also has a raspberry souffle recipe I am yet to make.
As many of my desserts have failed, here is two delightful French sweets from Angels House in Fremantle: Crème Brûlée and Paris Brest (my favourite dessert of all time).
Or you can always take the other option of having a fromage spread to entertain guests. They say cheese is the best alternative to have after dinner as it neutralises the acids in your stomach that you have just consumed.