Project Food Blog Entry #3: Luxury Dinner Party – It’s A Mad ‘Mad Men’ World


Luxury 'Mad Men' Dinner Party Menu

Clearly I’m through to round 3 of Project Food Blog – THANK YOU. I’m overjoyed. For this round Foodbuzz asked us to plan and host a luxury dinner party for at least four.

So I have a confession. I’ve always wanted to be a 1950s/60s housewife. I know, it’s a bit weird, especially coming from a British-born Chinese (BBC) girl. Why would I want the constrictions? Am I mad? But it’s because I love the idea of the glamour. I love the clothes. I love the sophistication. I love the Martinis. So when I saw the words ‘Luxury Dinner Party’ all I saw was ‘Mad Men’. What better way to relax and kick-back with friends than with a throwback to times of total sophistication?

Theme in mind, instructions sent to friends to dress up a la ‘Mad Men’/1960s/at-least-smart, I set about researching my menu. I needed something 60s, but that would require minimal effort because I was only going to have 2 hours on the day to prep and cook. I decided on aperitifs of Martinis (four parts gin to one part vermouth, place in cocktail shaker with ice, shake vigorously, pour into Martini glasses and top with a skewered olive/twist of lemon), Devilled Eggs (adapted slightly: used Colman’s spicy English mustard, no brown mustard, and no olives) and Pigs In Blanket, followed by Prawn Cocktail, Coq-Au-Vin (adapted slightly: used shallots which I brown braised a la Julia Child instead of frozen pearl onions, no carrot, used bacon lardons and threw them into the slow cooker on top of the chicken. Also used a lot more stock to cover and topped up with an extra cup of red wine when I got home, turned up to high and let cook for another hour and a bit) and parsley butter baby new potatoes (boil baby new potatoes, drain, throw in a knob of butter and chopped parsley), and finally Black Forest Gateau. Now maybe these dishes aren’t exactly new, but can you believe I’d never made any of them?

I’m a busy girl. I work 5 days a week at a baby shop (no, we don’t sell babies), have a catering job Mondays, and on my 1 day off spend it cooking, photographing, preparing for Monday, having meetings and trying to get my “career” off the ground, which also included the build and launch of my new blog (thank you, thank you, thank you for all your hard work David! Love! I’ll dedicate a proper post to this later in the week – what do you guys think?). I am busy, plain and simple. I am also, very clearly, mad. After a mid-week freak out I knew that for this dinner party to work I was going to need the help of two things: my slow cooker and my friends.

Friday night saw me up until 4am (fun when you have to work at 10am the next morning!) prepping the Coq-Au-Vin, rolling a million (it felt like) cocktail weenies in bacon, boiling and peeling eggs.

I cannot stress how brilliant slow cookers are. There is nothing better than being able to throw everything together, turn it on in the morning, and come home to a lovely hot meal (and discovering you haven’t even burnt your house down in the process). In these mad times what could be better? Before I rushed off to work Saturday morning I simply set the slow cooker to low and let it bubble away for 9 hours. By the time I got home all I had to do was add more wine, whack it up to high and let it do its thang.

My friends are wonderful. They know how little time I have free and so the 2 Js (Juliet & Jun), came over early to help. Yes, this means there were 3 Js, all cooking together in the kitchen, helping me lay the table (I even bought flowers!), bake, chop, prep Martinis (read: drink Martinis), laugh, chat, and all three of us dressed up and groovin’ to the soundtrack of the swinging 60s. Juliet and I were wearing pearls, and I was wearing heels. It was a wonderful sight.

The 3rd guest, Amali, arrived a little after 8pm and the 4th, Luke, texted to tell me that he was running very late. Devilled Eggs and Pigs In Blanket were scoffed, Martinis were sipped, olives were consumed, photos were taken, and by this point we were all hungry and decided: sorry Luke, we’re starting without you.

The Prawn Cocktail was a big hit and disappeared very quickly amongst stories, jokes and laughter. Success. Next up the Coq-Au-Vin.

By the time we got round to eating the Coq-Au-Vin not only was it chock-full of flavour but it was literally falling off the bone. We didn’t even need our knives. Conversation ceased. All you could hear were ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from my guests. Slow cooker for the win. Great success.

At this point guest #4, Luke, showed up, drenched from head-to-toe (it was pouring down outside), a little tipsy (how very Don Draper), full of apologies and hungry. He wolfed down a plate of Coq-Au-Vin and declared it the best meal he’d ever eaten. Success. I think.

On to Black Forest Gateau, then. Delicious, hit the spot, and oh-so-chocolatey. Amazing. Success.

Teas and coffees followed, but by this point everybody was so full and contented all they wanted to do was curl up on the sofas and fall asleep. We snapped some more photos and they each picked their favourite part of the meal (although Amali picked the Devilled Eggs, she actually only ate the yolk part because she doesn’t like egg whites!), and then everybody gradually weaved off into the night, relaying multiple thanks, hugs, kisses, compliments, and love.

And left me with piles and piles of washing up to do. Er. Not such great success. But y’know what? So totally worth it. But for now I decided to release my inner-Betty Draper, kick my heels off, lay out on the sofa and sip at my Martini. So what if I had to work the next day, had loads of washing up to do, photos to edit and a blog post to write? This moment was for me. I surveyed the damage and declared the evening a great success. Don Draper et al. would’ve been proud. I certainly was.

Voting opens on Monday! I’ll post a link when we get there! Hope you enjoyed a glimpse into my dinner party. Until next time, peace and love.

Jax x

53 Responses to “Project Food Blog Entry #3: Luxury Dinner Party – It’s A Mad ‘Mad Men’ World”

  1. David Says:

    Wow! Classy dinner party, that prawn cocktail looks to die for!

  2. Brian @ A Thought For Food Says:

    Ok… you are adorable!Not that you weren’t before, but this post just brought such a smile to my face. Plus, your new design is amazing!

    I’m so happy we’re in this contest together and I’m so impressed by everything you do.

    You have my vote of course. :-)

  3. Sommer J Says:

    Everything is absolutely brilliant. Love the theme, the photos, the decor, and the story. Amazing. Best of luck you.

  4. Margaret Murphy Tripp Says:

    I can’t believe you work more than full time and still pull all of this off! Lovely party! The food looked delicious, the theme was great and your photos and write-up were wonderful! Great job! Good luck to you, I really hope you make it through! You have my vote.

  5. The Cilantropist Says:

    Love the photo of all you girls in your dresses, so party appropriate and perfect for the theme. :) Great job and coq au vin is one of my fav dishes!

    ps. great new blog design! Too cute!

  6. Jan/Thella Says:

    you need to prepare to round 4 dear! :) this is one great party i’m sure everyone would love to rsvp too. your dishes are great and you all look like you had a good time! :) congrats!

  7. Serene Says:

    Excellent! And I like the new blog design, too.

  8. Ashley Says:

    My oven GF– I adore this layout! And I love the little man in the corner. And I love you!

  9. Cheryl@BlackGirlChefsWhites Says:

    That sure looked like a good time, with lots of good food!

    And any dinner party with martinis is a winner in my book!

  10. Monet Says:

    You are amazing. Your blog looks incredible. I’m beyond impressed and dragged Ryan over from his work to check it out. I love it! The noodle idea is just precious! And you rocked this challenge. I love Mad Men, and I love your blog, so needless to say, I’m voting for you first thing tomorrow morning. Deviled eggs and chocolate cake make me swoon. I only wish I could have come to your party! Much love sweet woman!

  11. Lawyer Loves Lunch Says:

    How fun! And you managed to pull all this off with limited time? I can’t wait to see what you can do with unlimited time :) You know you’ve got my vote!

  12. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite Says:

    Wow – what a great theme for a dinner party! Wish I had been there! Good luck in PFB – I hope I will be there in round 4 with you, because you certainly will be!

  13. catty Says:

    OOoh your devilled eggs look divine (as do you!) – great work on Project Food Blog and also on your new look blog :) love it! xx

  14. Tunde Says:

    Wonderful theme here Jackie. It looked like the dinner was a success by the look of things ( no leftovers ;) ) Loved the new port as well :D !!

  15. RhodeyGirl Says:

    This is what I picture a luxury dinner party to look like.. love it. Just voted- good luck!

  16. Suzee Says:

    Wonderful theme, great food – very luxurious! Wish I could have been there!

  17. Vanessa Says:

    I loved this post! Just wish I could have been there to partake in the fabulosity!
    I have thoroughly been enjoying following your blogging! Best wishes!
    I miss you! <3

  18. Russell van Kraayenburg Says:

    I LOVE this theme you’ve chosen for your dinner party! Mad Men, the 50s/60s, great idea! I too have always wanted to be a 1950s housewife… err… househusband? Great post. Everything looks super scrumptious.

    Good luck again!

  19. Suzy Says:

    I love this dinner party…from the martinis to the prawn cocktail to the wonders that is a slow-cooker to the discarded heels…you TOTALLY deserve to go to the next round! You’ve got my vote!

  20. Russell van Kraayenburg Says:

    I forgot to mention how much I love your new theme! It’s super cute, and I love this little guy noming away down here.

  21. Roxan Says:

    So cute!!! I love Mad Men. Totally voted for you :)

  22. Joan Nova Says:

    A very fun theme and well-executed.

  23. LauraD Says:

    Love the theme so much! I am obsessed with that show. I also secretly love Betty Draper’s glamour, lol. Your food looks so stylish and delicious!

  24. jen cheung Says:

    VOTEDDDDDDD! Good luck! Wish you all the best!

    jen @ http://www.passion4food.ca

  25. Whit @ Amuse Bouche Says:

    so cute! I love it, especially your presentation. My shoes were off at the end of the night too! Best of luck,



  26. Jackie Says:

    Thank you all for your lovely comments! I want to reply to each and every one of you personally but if I did that this comment would be waaaay too long. So thank you :D

    Jax x

  27. Liz Says:

    Wish I’d been invited…what fun!!!

  28. junebu8 Says:

    Love, love, love it! Getting my vote out now :)

  29. Reeni Says:

    I love, love, love it! But can you believe I’ve never seen Mad Men? I have to now! Everything looks positively delicious and you all look smokin hot! The gateau is such a sexy dessert. Your new look rocks! Love everything about it – your font is so cute. Best of luck my girl, I’m off to tweet it. xoxo

  30. Sharon (umommy) Says:

    you had me at mad men. great post! you got my vote :)

  31. Ying Sun Says:

    Hi, baby,

    you got my vote and hope you are good luck to get in the final round.


    Sun Ying

  32. Jacob's Kitchen Says:

    Beautiful, as always! Your photos are always amazing. The menu sounds decadent. I guess my invite got lost in the mail, huh? =) I voted for you!

    Good luck, friend. Hope to see us BOTH in the next round! Cheers.

  33. riceandwheat Says:

    Hmm, I must be the last person on this earth not to have watch any Mad Men. But even so, I still love the style and atmosphere of your party! You ladies look gorgeous and the food look yummy. Good luck in this round!

  34. ediblecville Says:

    OMG, I just spent I don’t know how long writing about my dinner party phobia….b/c my mother WAS Betty Draper? And you go and HAVE a Mad Men party? I’m incredulous…….and insanely jealous :D It’s my favorite show. Needless to say, you got my vote! http://bit.ly/cNNCrR

  35. Jessica Says:

    This all looks great! I love your menu! Hope we both make it to the next round! :-) You have my vote!

  36. Natalie Says:

    love Mad Men. voted for you! hope we both move forward. :)


  37. Casey Angelova Says:

    I love love love Mad Men. Great theme. You have my vote

  38. Natty Says:

    I love it!!! You even had your own Don Drapper! Good thing Duck didn’t show up, he ruins everything. :-) way to go!

  39. @lickmyspoon Says:

    I love seeing the classics put on display, and you certainly didn’t disappoint. Glad to see you could fit this into a busy schedule, I enjoyed reading your post. You’ve got a vote of ours this week, good luck!

    Lick My Spoon

  40. Jun Belen Says:

    Love love the Mad Men theme!! And love the menu and table setting, too! Here’s a martini to your fabulous dinner party! Well done!

  41. Julie @ Willow Bird Baking Says:

    Love this fun theme!! You have a vote from me.

    My dinner party was designed to take the diner food from Gooch’s Diner, where my parents first met over 40 years ago, and elevate it to luxury for their 39th wedding anniversary. Come see if you’d like :)

  42. shaz Says:

    Dinner parties are always more fun when there’s dressing up involved. Well done on throwing such a successful party on such a tight schedule. Good luck :)

  43. stephchows Says:

    I am so in love with this!!! Fabulous idea… and I too want to be a 1950’s housewife LOL :)

  44. Dana Says:

    A vintage dinner party… too adorable! Looks like you had a great time with some wonderful (and helpful) friends! Good luck with this challenge!

  45. Jackie Says:

    Thanks everybody :D I appreciate your votes and lovely comments! And to everybody who wants to be a 50s/60s housewife/Betty/Don Draper – I SALUTE YOU. I SALUTE YOU HARD… ;)

    Jax x

  46. Jenni Says:

    Love the Mad Men theme–Success all around, I think. Love the coq au vin. Voting:)

  47. Jackie Says:

    Thank you for all of your votes, guys! I’m into round 4! :D

    Jax x

  48. jen cheung Says:

    Congrats Congrats going onto challenge #4!!! Must be exciting for you! Good luck and all the best. Happy Thanksgiving to you! You’ll be getting the next vote from me :) Your awesome!

    Have a happy thanksgiving!
    jen @ http://www.passion4food.ca

  49. Jackie Says:

    Thanks Jen :D I appreciate it!

    Jax x

  50. Euphie Says:

    Your outfit is *STUNNING*
    and the food looks to die for
    *high five*

  51. Hedayat Says:

    As a matter of fact, all these foods look delicious, but the most delicious think I saw was the chef. Sexy and cute.

  52. Richelle Says:

    Good shoes.

  53. Jenny (VintageSugarcube) Says:

    Oh my!! I love EVERYTHING about this post. The cute outfits, the Food, especially the FOOD and those heels tippped over at the end is the icing on the cake. KUUUUUDOS to ya girl. :)

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