Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dinner with Dessert

We invited some friends over for dinner on Saturday evening. I knew the weather would be great all day and planned to spend most of the day in the garden, not the kitchen. On Friday evening I prepared as much as I could. 

I made the marinade for the flank steak, readied the Potato Splats, made the salad dressing, and set the table. Then I lit the candles just to see what it all would look like, and took a few photos. I used votive holders at every place to hold a few bluebells, a linen tablecloth and napkins, and ended up with mostly monochrome. Blue and white is a winning combination for me. 

We had guests for dinner quite often while living in Ecuador. On one such occasion, as we sat down at the table with our children and our guests, our son, probably 8 or 9 at the time, said, "Oh, good. Company. That means we get dessert." 

I found the recipe for this gluten and dairy free sorbet (since some of our guests can't have those ingredients) on Tartelette's blog. Do check it out. It's a berry sorbet that captures the very essence of summer. I made a few changes to the recipe; using frozen berries, and strawberries in place of the raspberries. I've done it with raspberries too, and prefer it that way. In fact, I've made this recipe at least three times in the past two months. And I plan on making it a lot more as summer arrives.

I have one of those hand-cranked ice cream makers that you place in the freezer for 8 hours before using. I purchased it at a thrift store about 8 years ago. This year, I'm just storing the thing in the freezer so it's handy at a moment's notice. 

With everything that was done ahead, I spent the day in the garden and came in to shower at 3:00 and had plenty of time to prep the rest of the meal - roasted asparagus, carrots with onion butter, salad, plus the steak and potatoes. 

Do you have guests for meals often? Do you make dessert? How do you prepare ahead?


  1. I had to look at the potato recipe even before commenting. What a great idea!
    I love to have guests for dinner, and like you, I try to prepare a lot ahead of time. I find that setting the table and prepping the side dishes ensures that I'll relax. I always serve dessert, and one of my favorites for summer is an iced brownie, placed in the bottom of a stemmed glass, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce.

  2. Hmmm, the table set so beautifully and the menu so heavenly. I looked at the potato recipe wondering if it was anything like Ree's Crash Potatoes...perhaps I have that wrong...anyway, it was a bit like hers. I'm going to try yours because I'm sure that I would love them!

    (No. I do not have guests often. Perhaps every six weeks or so. In the summer, that changes as we try to host more often. I do try to prepare ahead. I am no expert so I often look the part of a harried hostess, which I hate doing. So I need to practice my hostessing skills. A lot. If only the budget allowed.)

  3. I also have guests a lot and as I read this I was thinking it reminded me of myself. My reason for preparing so much ahead is that I have a hard time visiting with guests while cooking. I get a big flustered. So I need as much ready as possible so I can concentrate on our friends. In the summer we often grill chicken and I pull out the prepared ahead roasted red potato salad and a green salad. Yes always dessert but sometimes as simple as a klondike bar (always a treat). I must try your sorbet though and will try the potatoes! I love the simplicity of your table --so pretty!

  4. We used to have people over all the time. Most of them teenagers who were away from home and missing their moms. I'd never get much notice they were coming, usually a phone call from one of my girls saying "they'd invited so and so for dinner, could I add more potatoes!" The table would be set as quickly and nicely as possible. There weren't very many leftovers.
    Now we are enjoying the quiet meals alone, well together, without the chaos. That is until the new grand baby and her mom and aunts all come over for a visit and a plate of something!

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  6. This sorbet looks yummy. I'm off to check out the splats recipe! I'm intriqued.

  7. The whole meal sounds delicious. Our guests are usually family these days. I'm thinking of having a 'street party' in the garden for the Queen's jubilee. xx

  8. We're having our small group over for dinner this Thursday and we are going to BBQ flank steak :0)
    I decided to go with an easy meal since I leave at 5am the following morning for California. We are going to cut the flank steak for sandwiches and have BBQ beans and salad. Chocolate covered strawberries for dessert. I'll have to go back and check that splats recipe. Hope your week is going well with all this wonderful sunshine!

  9. I agree with podso: I can't talk and cook, so if I am still cooking when the guests arrive, I am likely to forget something important, like the time I made Shrimp Creole. As we were sitting at dinner, still chatting with the guests and eating the stew with rice, I realized that I'd never put the shrimp in; it was still cold in the fridge.

  10. Sadly I don't have a lot of time for entertaining these days - usually just tea with a French style cake with perhaps fruit and creme fraiche topping in the gazebo, or house if the weather is bad. I loved doing intimate dinners with friends before all this travel took over - perhaps those times will return, although I do find cooking harder than I used to for some reason. Can I be getting old, lol!

    Your meal sounded wonderful - of course being a non-meat eater I would have to make one change! Love the sound of the homemade sorbet, always a Summer favorite.

    Know your guests must have had a wonderful time and appreciated your great culinary efforts Lorrie.
    Hugs - Mary

  11. Lorrie, Your notecards are drop-dead gorgeous! My #1 favorite is the winter scene - I would not expect you get snow on Vancouver Island??? Love the autumn lake scene with the reflection in the water. You have a knack with a camera for sure!

  12. I am more the last-minute there's going to be a lot of dinner tonight let's call and invite someone over type. Although right now, most of my guests are my teenagers' friends. I know how to stretch a meal to feed a crowd. And i NEVER can set the table ahead. One of these days I look forward to having more planned and pretty meals like this :)


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