Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dinner party: what I had and how much it cost

I had the neighbors over for dinner last weekend, providing me with my first opportunity for a dinner party in the new house. (I say "dinner party," even though it was really just four adults having dinner.)

It was quite lovely, and I'll be posting new recipes this week from that--including the big hit, seared scallops on a salt block.

It wasn't quite a $20 dinner party, but I wasn't trying for that, either. A lot of the vegetables came from my CSA box, so it's hard to accurately gauge the true cost of this dinner. I give market approximations, below. I didn't count the cost of flour, sugar, olive oil or spices.

Roasted chicken: $8 for two at Costco, so $4

Dandelion green salad with walnuts: $3 for dandelion greens, approximately 75 cents for a handful of walnuts from bulk bag ($11 for 2 pounds)

Roasted green beans: $2 for green beans, 50 cents for one shallot, 50 cents for handful of sliced almonds

Sweet potato buttermilk rolls: $1 for 2 sweet potatoes, $1.50 worth of buttermilk, $1 worth of fresh yeast, 11 cents for one egg ($4 for 36 eggs at Costco), $1 for one stick of butter

Seared scallops: $10.22 for 8 sea scallops from Whole Foods

Potatoes fried in duck fat and truffle oil: $3 for bag of new potatoes, $1 worth of duck fat ($5 for tub), $1 worth of truffle oil ($10 for small bottle)

Chocolate mousse: $3 for 1 bar Ghirardelli 60% chocolate, 3 eggs at 11 cents each

Wine: 2 bottles plus half a bottle of dessert wine, all gifts

Total cost: around $34 for four people, or $8.50 each.

$8.50 for that menu ain't bad at all.

Notice that if I'd eliminated the scallops, I would have come in very close to $20 total.

My weekly CSA box runs about $29 (during the summer, that will drop to $20). All the vegetables from the dinner, including the potatoes and sweet potatoes, came from the CSA boxes.

Which means that except for the scallops and the buttermilk, I had everything I needed for this dinner already. The chicken, the vegetables, the chocolate, everything. If you look at it that way, the dinner only cost me $14 and change out of pocket (for the scallops and the buttermilk).

As a side note, I really love entertaining. It was great to sit and relax with fellow adults, talking and drinking wine and eating good food. I want to do more of that.

It was also the first time that much of my dinnerware got pressed into service: serving platters and bowls, different kinds of wine glasses, the good napkins and tablecloth, matching candles. Not to mention the salt block. I've spent years slowly accumulating sets of 12: china, silverware, espresso cups, white wine glasses, red wine glasses, dessert wine glasses, champagne flutes, ramekins, you name it. Now that I finally have a table that will seat 12, it's time to put all that stuff to good use.

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