How to fake a 5-course meal from scratch
A five-course meal is an elegant way to entertain guests with delicious food and scintillating conversation. Typically, though, it takes time. Before you call a caterer, use these handy tricks to fake your way to a gourmet meal that tastes like it was made from scratch. The key is to use a few cooking helpers to amp up the flavor.
Step 1: Easy soup course
The key to faking the soup course is to avoid canned soup. Purchase a high-quality boxed soup (butternut squash is a great choice) instead. Then, garnish it with store-bought creme fraiche and a sprinkling of nutmeg or parsley.
Step 2: Pre-prepare the palate-cleanser
A palate-cleanser is served between each course. Lime sorbet is a common choice because you can pick it up at any market. Just use a melon baller or small ice cream scoop to fill small glass dishes, and store them in the freezer until you need them.
Step 3: Salad course in a cinch
Take the prep time out of the salad course by buying fresh, precut salad mix. For the dressing, use a high-quality brand or find your favorite mild vinaigrette recipe online; put all the ingredients into a jar and shake well just before serving.
Step 4: Simple starch course
You can serve any starch you'd like, but potatoes make this course easy. Just toss quartered red potatoes or fingerling potatoes in an herb-flavored creamy dressing or yogurt dip of your choice (a plastic storage bag works well for mixing). Place the potatoes in a single layer in a greased shallow baking dish or foil-lined pan and bake at 400 degrees F for 30 or 40 minutes, turning halfway through.
Step 5: Entree course cheat
Often, the most time-consuming part of a five-course meal is the entree — it doesn't have to be. Let your favorite restaurant help. Just order a plain protein (steak, chicken, tuna, etc.) to go, then make your own elegant topper. Try a bleu cheese cream or marsala wine sauce.
Step 6: Delectable dessert course
Five-course meals traditionally finish with a warm, fruit-based dessert. Skip the frozen pie and call a local bakery. Ask them to prepare a pie or tart but without baking it so you can do it at home just before your meal. They do all the work; you take all the credit!
A five-course meal starts with light flavors, with each course getting a little bolder than the last. Often, each course is paired with a wine that brings out the unique flavors of each dish (though beers have found their way into this tradition, as well). Once you've settled on your menu, do a little online research to find out which wines (or beers) pair with the dishes you're making.
For more cooking tips, check out:
Super Moms guide to cleaning & cooking for the family