The Outtakes

Happy Birthday Michael!

The Four Course dinner was a success (despite the soup fail) and I had so much fun planning it and cooking it. I learned a lot and I’m glad I was able to execute it without (much) stress. 😉

When I first entered the kitchen on Saturday afternoon I stood there staring at the counter for a good 5 minutes. I was suddenly overwhelmed and had NO idea where to start. I took a deep breath, told myself to relax, and decided this was the perfect place to start: get all the ingredients out and onto the counter. Then everything was a lot easier.

My brother consulted two books to help me with this endeavor and he recommends them both:

Culinary Artistry

What to Drink with What You Eat

Some tips for planning something like this:

  • Choose recipes that compliment each other. Having a Mexican flavor with Italian with Greek might be a little weird. Try to stick with one theme. The avocado soup wasn’t really “Mexican” despite the salsa fresca. On paper it would have gone really nicely with ham (both light and mild flavors).
  • As a general rule, when pairing wines with proteins a good rule of thumb is white wine goes well with chicken, turkey, fish, seafood and pasta with white sauce. Red wine goes better with duck, pork, lamb, steak, pasta with meat sauce. These are super basics and if you really want to be serious about pairings, really research what compliments your specific dish.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if one of the courses doesn’t turn out. And it’s a good idea to have a backup course just in case.
  • If you can practice the recipes before hand, try to. I didn’t have the opportunity to do that but I wish I had with the soup.
  • Choose two easy courses and two harder courses. If they are all complicated you’ll be overwhelmed.
  • Try to do the more time consuming tasks first and get them out of the way. Prepping everything before starting to cook is a good idea too!
  • Make sure you have all the required ingredients (and some extras just in case). I had to send Michael to the store for extra avocados because the ones I got were rotten inside.
  • If you can prepare some of it beforehand, do so.
  • Everything will take much longer than you are expecting. Add at least 25% more time to every recipe. I started cooking and prepping at about 3 in the afternoon and there were lots of parts of the recipes that ended up taking much more time than I expected. I was glad I started early.
  • Pace yourself with the wine. It WILL catch up to you! 🙂

Most of all, enjoy it! Don’t rush the courses. Really sit down, eat, drink and enjoy each course before moving on to the next. It’s really all about the conversation and companionship and less about the food.

QUESTION: Have you learned any good tips about preparing a big, complicated meal like this?

Author: Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and

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