Monday, October 24, 2011

GF Dinner Party Goodness (Safe Social Eating)

I love a dinner party - and  used to host them rather frequently back in my gluten-eating days. After my celiac diagnosis, there were a few years where food and I had such a bad relationship that putting "dinner" and "party" in the same sentence no longer made sense. I couldn't really attend food-related functions - and it took me a while to get gluten-free cooking down, so I was in no place to host. (Note: this was way back - before we had decent product labeling, user-friendly flours, and good bread.) But, now, almost a decade in, dinner parties are a regular feature on my social calendar. I'm writing about them in the hopes that you'll consider trying your hand at hosting too.

First, let's do a little dinner party pro and con, yes?


1- You control the food environment, so it stays safe for you.

2- You can introduce friends and family to gluten-free meals, show them how many are naturally gluten-free or easily tweaked to be GF.

3- You can even invite one or two folks to help you prepare the meal, an opportunity to explain cross-contamination and how to prevent it. People are often so afraid of getting you sick that they're afraid to try cooking for you. One or two lessons may just do the trick - and garner you future dinner party invites you can actually accept!

4- Leftovers. Seriously! Cook up a storm on a Saturday night, making enough for two or three subsequent meals. Pack them away before serving the main meal, so they aren't left out for too long during the evening's activities.

5- Zero commute home! NO, REALLY. Doesn't have a bit to do with being GF, but I think this is my favorite thing about dinner parties, especially living in NYC and during cold weather. I'll happily do three sinks full of dishes if I don't have to schlep home on the train at the end of the night.


1-The cost. Yes, I know, money is tight these days and food prices are going up. While it's easy for dinner party costs to quickly spiral out of control, it is also VERY easy to keep costs under $10/head. Less, even. (That's really the only con I can think of, though it truly is possible to contain costs - and it's still less expensive than most Saturday nights out in NYC!)

This past weekend I hosted a dinner party/movie night and served five (with lots of leftovers) for under $30:

Bucheron and chevre cheeses
Sesame crackers
Rice crackers
Fig butter (Sounds fancy, but was from Trader Joe's and cost under $3!)

Dairy fat deliciousness.

Roasted baby yukon gold potatoes
Roasted brussels sprouts
Ginger mustard bone-in pork chops

Doesn't sound very fancy, because it wasn't - but folks LOVED this meal, lemme tell you.

(Note: If I serve meat, I tend to use the less expensive but more flavorful cuts of meat: boneless chicken thighs, brisket, etc - things that can handle some "over-cooking" and may even benefit from it. Read: things I can stick on the stove/in the oven and not worry about while I make the rest of the meal.)

Homemade apple pie compote (served warm, over ice cream) 

Wine (that someone brought to a previous dinner ;)

When you invite people over to your home, they'll invariably ask what they can bring. I usually say "just yourself", but this time asked someone to bring vanilla ice cream for the compote, saving me a (third!) trip to the store - and a few dollars. Most people I know also believe that bringing a bottle of wine is just what you do when you're a guest, so we're usually covered on that front.

Add some good friends and - voila! Dinner party goodness - and safe social eating success! Thoughts? Suggestions? I'd love to hear about your GF dinner party ideas.


  1. I've always loved to throw a good dinner party, but now that I'm GF I'm kind of maniacal about insisting on being the host. I'm hoping everyone thinks it's cute and helpful, and not controlling and crazy. They do, right? Right???

    Also, scouring your blog for my upcoming trip to NYC! Woot! Thank YOU.

  2. Right there with you, ma'am! I'm averaging 2 or 3 a month now - and since people keep coming over, I'm going to go with "cute and helpful"! I've been finding that people are are digging the ease of socializing at (my) home and around whatever good food I decide to make, so viva la (GF) dinner party!

    As for your upcoming NYC trip (woot woot!)I'd recommend also checking out the GF maps/lists by Allergic Girl: and Gluten-free Fun: