In today’s hurry-up world, the art of entertaining is a fading skill. Instead of inviting friends and family to our homes for an evening of dining and good conversation, we meet them at loud, over-crowded and over-priced restaurants. It is easier than grocery shopping, meal planning and preparation. I am guilty of this practice too, however, I still enjoy entertaining and try to do it on a regular basis.
In Despicable Lies, Danielle agrees to help her physician husband, Alex, with his idea of entertaining surgical residents, interns and medical students rotating through the surgical department of New York Hospital where he works. She and Alex host weekly dinner parties in their New York City loft, and the invitations to attend are highly coveted.
Alex is a renowned trauma surgeon and a talented teacher. He believes that the relaxed atmosphere of bringing people together in his home fosters comradeship between him and his trainees and amongst the students themselves. At each dinner, there is always a visiting professor or distinguished medical professional who personally shares his/her story with the students. Deans of prestigious medical schools, noble prize winners in medicine and distinguished faculty members from medical institutions around the world, interface with the students. The dinners generate excitement and enthusiasm, and the students are proud to brag that they had dinner and personal conversations with the equivalent of a medical celebrity. The weekly event was so popular that Alex and Danielle continued the tradition for a number of years.
Danielle enjoyed interfacing with the medical students and the distinguished guests as much as Alex. She was a physician herself. She did not want to be in the kitchen all evening and miss the lively teaching moments and animated conversations. So, she planned her dinner menus around a casserole of some sort. (what one calls today, a one pan meal). She would make a series of casseroles and freeze them so that her Wednesday night entertaining would be easy. Served with a salad and rolls, her dinners received rave reviews from the students, who normally survived on Ramen noodle, pizza and take-out Chinese food.
One of the most popular casseroles recipes is provided below. If you don’t have students to entertain, try this on your friends. I think they will love it, but more importantly, they will love that you took the time and the effort to make it for them.
SHRIMP & RICE CASSEROLE (serves 4)
Cook one box of Uncle Ben’s wild rice
Sauté 1/3 Cup chopped green pepper and 2T sliced green onion in 2T butter
Stir in ¼ lb. mushroom (any kind you like)
Cover and cook for 5 minutes
Add 1 can of cream of shrimp soup and 1 bag of frozen small cooked shrimp (without shells)
1/8 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
Heat until bubbly. Arrange the rice inside a casserole dish. Sprinkle another ½ cup shredded cheese over it. Put the shrimp mixture on top. Place slivered almonds that have been browned in butter on top and bake 5-7 minutes at 400 degrees.
I know this recipe is not Keto or Weight Watcher friendly, but it is delicious and so easy. Try it and let me know what you think. Maybe you have casserole recipes stashed away from your mother or grandmother that should be recycled, and would prompt you to entertain more frequently. If Danielle can do it weekly, you can certainly do it from time to time.
Until my next inspiration…ciao