Question: My friend tells me never to serve a casserole to a man you're trying to hook because casseroles are "too married." What's wrong with a casserole? I'm single and serve them all the time.
Answer: I agree with your friend. Casseroles spell bedroom slippers, TV and a noose around the neck.
Try something he-man that your friend can dig his teeth into and keeps him guessing--like soup to start (preferably cream), and a good steak Diane, one of the most romantic dishes in the world. Flaming it at the table adds a little fire to the event.
To prepare steak Diane sprinkle two boneless sirloin steaks with dry mustard, salt and pepper and brown in hot oil until done as desired on both sides. Sprinkle with chives, lemon juice and Worcestershire. At the table pour Cognac over the steaks, heat and ignite. Dish up the steak when flames subside, then spoon the pan juices over the meat.
Q: I have a problem getting people who come to my parties to leave at a decent hour. They just linger on until I drop from fatigue. Do you have a trick I can use to get them going without being rude?
A: Congratulations. You must be a terrific host. But getting back to your question. Frank Pollock, husband of premier Los Angeles hostess, Elsie Frankfurt Pollock, who owns Page Boys Fashions, is known to warn his guests that he will ring a dinner bell when the party is over--and he does, usually at the table when his guests are gulping down their last drop of coffee. "If you haven't said what you've wanted to say in three hours, more time isn't going to help," said Pollock.
But you may prefer the tactic of international party planner, Clive David. He uses a music tape which ends at a prescribed hour with "The Star-Spangled Banner."
"If that doesn't get 'em up, nothing will," David said.
Q: I hate buying desserts and making them is too difficult, so I need your help. I'm having six people for a casual dinner at 6 p.m. I'm serving grilled chicken with a tomato and olive salad and tabouli with lots of grain and vegetables inside. Do you have a dessert that I won't have to fuss with and is complementary?
A: A colorful fruit compote can be smashing--and practically work-free. Alice Water, of Chez Panisse in Berkeley uses assorted berries on a platter with red fig wedges, when in season, for accent. But you can also use two or three seasonal fruits of the same color tones, such as watermelon, blood oranges, plums or grapes for red tones, and accent the fruit with a sprinkling of contrasting-colored berries (blueberries or blackberries). Splash the fruit lightly with some Cassis, Framboise, Cointreau or other fruit-flavored liqueur and marinate in the refrigerator several hours. Serve the fruit, with or without ice cream in oversize stemmed wine glasses or black Japanese miso bowls and Chinese spoons.