To give a course dinner without extra help is something that many housekeepers who keep no servant hestitate to attempt. This detailed description is given place here as one of the most practical helps that can be given to the average housekeeper. The dinner described was given by a lady, assisted only by a friend who shared her home.
Broiled Steak With Fried Bananas.
Creamed Spinach. Mashed Potato.
Lettuce And Cucumber Salad.
Wafers And Coffee.
The cake was bought at a Woman's Exchange, the soup was the best quality of canned consomme, and the mousse was ordered from a well-known caterer, as were also the delicate Vienna rolls. The spinach was boiled, rinsed, and drained early in the day, that there might be no lingering odor of it in the apartment. The lettuce was washed, drained, and wrapped in a wet napkin and laid on ice, with the cucumber and the cream for the salad, that they might be thoroughly chilled. The cans of consomme were opened, turned out into a large pan, ready for heating to the boiling point at the last moment, thus having a chance to become well aerated before serving. This left only the cooking of the potatoes, steak, and bananas, and the heating of the spinach and consomme to be done on the gas range during the half hour before dinner was served.
Early in the day, after the house was put in order, the table was made ready, and then the room was closed until night.
No natural flowers were used, as those on the embroidered centerpiece were fine imitations, but on the reflector in the center stood a small dish of ferns, low and broad. At intervals about the center were cut glass and fancy china dishes of pimolas, salted almonds, and pecans, and pink and green confections, with little fancy Venetian salt dishes conveniently near the plates. A china tray was laid at one end and filled with rolls. Seven covers were laid, consisting of dinner plate, a bread and butter plate, with butter spreader near the left upper corner, and a tumbler at the upper right. Next to the plate on the right lay a knife with the sharp edge turned toward the plate, and a soup spoon (not a tablespoon) with the bowl up, and on the left were two forks with tines up.
Beyond the forks lay the napkin, and above the plate the spoon for the ice-cream. In front of the hostess's plate was the ladle for the soup. On a small serving table near the door, the plates for the ice-cream and the salad were arranged at one end, leaving room near the front for the water pitcher, the bowl for salad dressing, and the hot plates. On the shelf were laid the plates for the cheese course, holding a finger-bowl half filled with warm water and resting on a netted and embroidered doily, and a small tea knife for the cheese. A covered cheese dish stood near by with cheese knife, then the ice-cream cleaver, salad fork and spoon, serving spoons for the vegetables, with small carving knife and fork, arranged in the order in which they would be needed. On a stand near the hostess's chair were the cups and spoons, sugar and cream, with tongs, ladle, etc., for the after-dinner coffee. The silver coffee pot and tureen, the platters for steak, ice-cream, and salad, the vegetable dishes and soup plates were laid out in order on the kitchen table ready for heating as needed. - A half-pound print of butter was divided into inch cubes and laid in the ice chest, for to some tastes the working over of the butter into fancy shapes, balls, etc., destroys much of its flavor, besides taking a deal of time. Nearly a pint of thick cream was whipped stiff; four tablespoons of lemon juice and four of grated horseradish, a teaspoon of salt, and several shakes of paprika were stirred in, and the mixture placed in the refrigerator, and then the salad dressing was ready. Just before the guests arrived the cake was arranged - the fancy cakes in a shallow fancy dish and the loaf cake on a cake plate with a knife for serving near by; the rolls were put on the table, one on each small plate, and the tray filled. The ice was broken and the glasses half filled with it, and the remainder put in a large pitcher, filled with water. The potatoes were pared and put on to boil, the soup pan drawn forward where it would boil quickly, the spinach put into a pan with butter and other seasoning and set back where it would only warm, two large spiders made ready for the bananas, and the tureen and soup plates filled with hot water. The guests came just on time. After wraps were removed and greetings exchanged, and they were all in the parlor, the hostess begged to be excused, leaving her friend to entertain the others, and in less time than it takes to tell it, the butter was on the plates, the glasses filled, the tureen emptied and wiped, and the soup plates wiped and on the table. During a flying trip to the kitchen while the guests were removing their wraps the broiling oven had been heated and the bananas put into the hot butter in the spider. They were now ready to be turned over, and then the flame was reduced ; and also under the potatoes and spinach. The steak was put into the broiling oven at the last moment, and the flame properly adjusted. The steak, by the way, was two inches thick, but could be perfectly broiled under the gas flame.
Dinner was announced, partners arranged, and when all were seated and the cover lifted, the soup was piping hot and served directly to those nearest the hostess on either side, and they in turn passed to those beyond them. When this course was finished, the hostess, having started a conversation which she knew would engage the attention of the guests, quietly rose, and as she left the table took the tureen to the kitchen. A moment later her friend at the opposite end of the table rose and removed her plate and that of the guest nearest her, taking two at a time to the kitchen, and in like manner removed the others, taking the under plate with the soup plate. This was purposely done in a quiet, leisurely manner, engaging in the conversation meanwhile. The steak was turned the instant the hostess entered the kitchen, the water drained from the potatoes, cream, butter, salt, and pepper added, the pan returned to the fire; then the spinach was drawn forward for a final heating, tasted and seasoned, the platter wiped from its hot bath and quickly filled with the steak, which was spread with butter and salt, and garnished and partly covered with the bananas, which were also slightly salted. A few sprigs of parsley were laid on the ends, and that dish was ready. A few quick strokes with a masher and the potatoes were turned steaming hot, white and creamy, into their hot dish, and the spinach into a similar receptacle. By this time all the soup plates had been brought out; and while the friend was taking in these hot dishes for this course, the soup spoons were quickly removed to a pitcher of hot water which was ready for them on the sink shelf, and the soup plates piled in order, and the dinner plates dipped for a moment into a pan of hot water. Fresh water was put on to boil for the coffee, and then the hostess took the dinner plates, went to the table, and proceeded to serve this course, which was hot and fresh and much better than if it had all been prepared beforehand and kept hot during the soup course.
In the same manner this course, when finished, was removed, and by this time everything was so informal that one of the gentlemen insisted upon replenishing the ice water, and otherwise assisting the young lady, thereby giving the hostess ample time to arrange the lettuce around the edge of the platter, cut the cucumber, which had been pared and quartered previously, into thin slices, dress it with salt, paprika, oil, and lemon, and turn it into the center, cover it with the whipped cream, putting the remainder into a fancy bowl. Then the boiling water was turned into the filter coffee pot and left on the edge of the range, the silver was removed from the plates into pitchers or pans of hot water, according to its size, the scraps on the plates were scraped off into the proper receptacle, the dishes piled in order, and by the time the friend was ready to take in the salad, the hostess with clean hands was ready to follow and serve it.
After this course there was more for the friend to do, for butter plates and bread tray were removed, and the cake laid on, and this gave time for the dishing of the mousse, the second filtering of the coffee, and the same disposal of the soiled dishes. When cakes and cream had been disposed of, these dishes were removed, while the final heating of the coffee and turning it into the hot pot for serving were being done in the kitchen. The plates with finger-bowls were laid on the table, the guests removing the bowl with the doily and placing them at the left; then, while the hostess was filling the cups which had been removed from the little table and placed in front of her, the friend passed the cheese and wafers; Roquefort and English Cheddar were served. Pimolas had nearly disappeared during the first courses, but almonds and confections were nibbled and coffee sipped, and after nearly two hours of fun and feasting, the company adjourned to the parlor. While they were getting settled into cozy corners and studying pictures, the hostess slipped back to the table, took care of the food, put the silver together, and closed the dining room and kitchen. After the last guest said good night, the two pairs of hands made quick work with the silver and the orderly piles of dishes, leaving the glasses until morning.