Monday, May 24, 2010

Dinner Party Menu: Cheap Filet Mignon

FruHo and FruHubs had a little dinner party in honor of Beach Mama, a new friend who was visiting from out of town.  They usually stick to dinner for six because they have an unusual dining table that belonged to TFH's grandparents and was designed to fit in a narrow room.  It rules, and six is a good number for dinner because everyone can talk to each other in a reasonable fashion.  (Reasonable meaning without yelling, as opposed to always making reasonable statements.)  Birds and Cherries and The Film Frightener were also in attendance, along with The Pie-Making Carpenter.

The menu:

Hors d' oeuvre: roasted almonds, cashews, relish tray of olives, cornichons, half dills, and cherry tomatoes, cheese and crackers, and pimento cheese with pretzel rods.  Yes, that equals one cheese item too many.  What of it?

Cocktails: mojitos, margaritas, and The Frugal Hostess's famous Mulberry Ghetto Mojito.  Which gets capitalized because it rulez.  Yep, with a Z.

First course: There was no first course, because FruHubs thought that would screw up the timing for the steaks.  Little did he know that something else entirely would be responsible for that clock-boffing.

Entree:  Filet mignon with sauteed onions, twice-baked potatoes, and grilled asparagus.  This dinner menu may be a little dated.  FruHo isn't sure.  All she knows is that when she first started dining (rather than just eating, as pretentious as that may sound), filet mignon with asparagus was the height of fanciness.  And a twice-baked potato?  Well, go ahead and stab her in the eye.  With deliciousness.  So, by golly, if excellent, yummy, crowd-pleasing food is dated, then call this 1989.

The party guests brought the wine, since they knew they would be served Two Buck Chuck if they didn't.

Dessert: Mascarpone Fruit Tart, which was awesome and purchased pre-made.  Ha.

TFH set the table with a beautiful vintage linen tablecloth that her grandmother had given her, as well as the same Grandma's crystal wine glasses and silver water goblets.  She used the wedding china and silver and some plain white pillar candles that dripped wax all over the tablecloth.  Good call, FruHo.  The best pieces of the table-scape were the place cards, which were stuck to bottles of bubbles.  The Frugal Hostess, as we all know, is very highbrow.

"So," you're thinking, "big deal - TFH had a dinner party and whatever and I can't afford to do this."

Well, you're wrong, and here's why.  FruHubs procured an entire beef tenderloin and butchered it himself, which is how he could afford to grill up filet mignon for everyone.  What?!  It's true.  You can save a BLOODY FORTUNE by purchasing a big ole giant piece of beef and chopping it down to size.  Like, about $17 per pound.  (And boy is "bloody" an accurate description.)  Alton Brown can show you how.  If you can't find a whole beef tenderloin, marinated and grill skirt steak for a similar effect at a lower price.  (Hint: Befriend, or be related to, some restaurant owners for the ultimate hook-up.)

Asparagus were in season when this dinner went down, so they were cheap.  Don't buy them when they're expensive, such as in the dead of winter.  They won't taste good anyway.  If they aren't in season, make green beans or sauteed spinach instead.  Since it's the only thing TFH ever makes on a regular basis, you've probably already figured out that twice-baked potatoes are both cheap and easy.  Another reason FruHo makes them for parties all the time is that they can be made ahead. 

 Finally, set your table with what you have.  If you have a bunch of old stuff from your grandmother, use it!  If you don't, don't sweat it!  The Frugal Hostess can assure you that every moment she has ever spent worrying about the dinner table was wasted, because no one ever remembers anything but the dessert you serve and who had too many mojitos. 

Have a dinner party!  It's fun!!!

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