Twelve Company Dinners



I pick up cookbooks for different reasons. I tend to always add French and Southern cookbooks (though there is often little difference in them), I like books with a specific focus such as terrines or preserves, and I have all of Elizabeth David and M.F. K. Fisher, but I often buy editions I don’t have as a kind of culinary “overkill”, and I am often overly taken by cookbooks with spectacular photography, but Twelve Company Dinners was a first. I bought it because of the author photo!



Margo Rieman looked like she would make fine dinner company, in fact, twelve dinners. The jacket blurb said Rieman was born on a farm in Utah. She traveled the world on a tramp steamer, wrote for fashion magazines, managed a jazz band and wrote a mystery. She lives(d) in New York City with her husband and two dachshunds. She is shown with the dachshunds that are described as “remarkable” but her husband is nowhere in site. He seems to have not been remarkable! She is also photographed with a drink and a cigarette but no food.

The premise for this book is to provide twelve dinner party menus with as much of the guesswork removed as possible. Rieman provide foe each dinner, a menu, a shopping list, a detailed and timed progression of activities and the recipes.



Since it is the late Fifties, many of the ingredients come from cans, which might be one of the reasons Rieman is photographed sans food but fortified with drinks.

She recommends for gourmets a dinner of Lamb Shashlik.

The menu includes:

Brandied Pâté (made from canned pâté and canned mushrooms)
Hot Cheese Balls (made with jarred cheese and canned deviled ham)
Lamb Shashlik
Kasha
Hot Yeast Rolls (made from a boxed mix)
Green Salad (made from actual lettuce)
Chocolate Rum Roll (a recipe from Dione Lucas)


Shashlik

4 lbs. leg of lamb, cut in 2” X 2” squares
1/4 cup sherry
2 onions
2 tbs. oregano
1 large eggplant
6 tomatoes
charcoal powder
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 clove garlic
24 tiny onions or 6 medium
6 green peppers

Make a marinade for the lamb by chopping fine 2 medium onions. In a bowl, crush onions with salt to extract a little juice. Then add garlic, olive oil, sherry and oregano. Stir well, then marinate lamb overnight in this mixture. Thread long skewers with lamb, eggplant squares, green pepper squares, tomato quarters and onions, either small onions or medium ones cut in quarters. Try to put four of each on the skewers. Sprinkle with charcoal powder and broil eight minutes on each side, sixteen minutes in all.

The instructions are very detailed, but here is the gist:

Day before
BEGIN SASHLIK

Morning or day before
MAKE PATÉ

Morning
MAKE CHEESE BALLS
MAKE CHOCOLATE RUM ROLL

Afternoon
PREPARE SALAD

5:30 PM
CONTINUE SASHLIK

6:00 PM
BEGIN HOT ROLLS

6:05 PM
PREPARE KASHA

6:30 PM
Get dressed for dinner

6:55 PM
Back to the kitchen as guests arrive at 7.
CONTINUE ROLLS

7:10 PM
If some of your guests have arrived
REMOVE PATÉ FROM REFRIGERATOR

7:15 PM
CONTINUE CHEESE BALLS

7:40 PM
CONTINUE SHASHLIK

7:45 PM
CONTINUE SALAD

7:48 PM
TURN SHASHLIK

8:00 PM
FINISH SHASHLIK

8:02 PM
CONTINUE ROLLS

8:15 PM
RETURN TO KITCHEN FOR ROLLS
START COFFEE

9:00 PM
Guests finish eating.
TAKE COFFEE AND CHOCOLATE ROLL TO TABLE

Wow, I’m not sure, but if I had to keep all those times together, I might just lose track of dinner all together.


And she seems so laid back in the picture!