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This Week's Question

I'm newly engaged and I'm dying to have my mother in law over for dinner. What's a great menu to impress an experienced cook that won't have me stuck in the kitchen when guests arrive?

From Claire - Ann Arbor, MI

I would make Slow-Roasted Filet of Beef with Basil Parmesan Mayonnaise, Roasted Broccolini, and Couscous with Pine Nuts. If you only have one oven, you can roast the broccolini while the filet of beef rests. I'm sure your mother in law will be impressed!!

Do you serve salad at the beginning of a meal or the end? As I understand it is a European/American difference?

From Andrea - Venice, Fl

Both are perfectly fine. It's definitely a french custom to serve salad after the main course, but I prefer to serve it first. 

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What charcoal grill do you recommend?

From Julie Mangum - Georgia

I use a 22.5" Weber grill.

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When you have guests...How do you get the food to the table warm if not indeed hot...without cooking in front of them? You certainly must have the figured out.

From Cathy Henning - Petaluma, CA

make a game plan for the dinner before I finalize the menu, and I tend to make one thing in the oven, one thing on top of the stove, and one thing at room temp that I can make in advance. I either make the main course earlier in the day and reheat it, or I have the dish assembled and it goes into the oven before guests arrive. I try not to do any cooking while the guests are there. It takes a lot of planning, but I am so much more relaxed when everyone arrives. I hope that helps! 

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There are so many kinds of vinegar. Which ones do you suggest for a well stocked pantry?

From Nancy Weed - Wilmington, DE

I think the basic vinegars to have on hand are white wine and/or champagne, red wine and balsamic. I also use raspberry, apple cider, and sherry vinegars occasionally. 

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Your recipes often call for use of a food mill. I don't have one. Can I have success using a food processor or immersion blender?

From Jackie Conn - Gig Harbor, WA

You can definitely use an immersion blender or the food processor, just be sure that you don't over process the vegetables- you don't want them to end up like baby food! 

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