Friendship, Trying New Things

Welcome to a Virtual Dinner

During the early days of the pandemic shutdown, a few groups of friends of mine began a regular Zoom chat. More than five months later, these groups have remained strong. Some of these calls are centred around a focus question. This past Tuesday, the topic was:

If the group of us were arriving (without our husbands) to your house for dinner, what would you serve?

**The extra significance here is that many of us live continents apart.

As usual, the results were incredibly diverse and creative. Amongst a vast array of delectable dishes, offerings included: Damper cooked around the campfire, Nougat Cheesecake with Toblerone Ganache and an endless spread of small platters, including pull-apart lamb, served in a sun-drenched outdoor setting with champagne poured throughout (because everything goes better with bubbles). Our dinners also included a full-senses restaurant meal on a balcony overlooking the harbour in Victoria, BC and an all-excursions paid feast by a private chef in Australia (after a fantasy lottery win, of course).

My contribution was a compilation of dishes that I have served numerous times before. My focus was on recipes that could be prepared well in advance, looked more complicated than they actually were and allowed me maximum time with company (I have major FOMO). Here’s the menu that I offered:

I decided to actually prepare most of this meal. Richard was the lucky IRL recipient. A great conversation with friends…and that evening’s dinner done…win-win!

As a bonus, many of us shared our recipes (which was the secret goal behind the question). You can find some of them here: Campfire Damper, Sheet Pan Salmon, Winter Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette, 3-Step Mini Oreo Cheesecakes, Baked Nougat Cheesecake.

If you were to host a virtual dinner, what would you serve? Bonus points for including a recipe link!

88 thoughts on “Welcome to a Virtual Dinner”

  1. Ha! I just happened to be on my computer looking for meal ideas, when your post popped up! I completely agree with your criteria for a meal with friends: impressive but not too fussy, can be prepared in advance, and mostly healthy (but yes to chocolate and vino). I’ve been lucky enough to have you prepare meals for me IRL, so I can vouch that this is how you roll. Lucky Richard!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What time is dinner? I wish I could visit again as it is almost 12 months ago now Donna. Your table setting looks beautiful and the recipes look delicious. The best part about friends for dinner is that is relaxed and you can enjoy yourself when you have an easy to prepare menu. I’d rather be having bubbles with you than being in the kitchen but I do love a good dinner party. Sending love and hugs from ‘Down Under’ xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh this is so great, Donna! I love your china, first of all, and I know I would love that salmon, something I always order when I’m out to dinner. Everything looks so delicious and how fun to share recipes with your virtual friends!

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    1. Thanks, Barb – The virtual dinner was a fun evening. I love how creative everyone was…and there was definitely much laughter.
      I bought the china at a second-hand store a couple of years ago. It’s super sturdy, with lots of room for extra portions. It’s also dishwasher friendly and goes well with my other dishes. Win-win-win! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Donna – there’s nothing like a catch up with friends and my number one criteria would be not being stuck in the kitchen while everyone else was sitting around laughing and chatting. Any meal with you would be a delight – I’d be happy with fish and chips somewhere near a lake or the ocean (I’m a cheap date!) Loved your post and BTW I’m sharing my orange drizzle muffins on the blog soon – so all this cooking must have inspired me xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Leanne – I was going to ask you for the recipe for those muffins. I’ll definitely be checking out your post. Oh, and fish and chips together near an ocean sound absolutely wonderful. I know a few places out here that fit that description perfectly!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, boy, it looks good! Made my mouth water just to look at the picture and instructions. If you do give it a try, be sure to include plenty of pictures and descriptions so that I can enjoy it vicariously. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  5. There is never a dull moment with you Donna and I’m always amazed by your varied interests and interactions. You bring excitement and appeal even to virtual gatherings. Where there is a will, Donna will find a way!

    My husband is known to make a full blown Thanksgiving dinner for people in July but that wouldn’t be my choice. I think my favorite low maintenance meal to offer guests would be crock pot or stove top chicken cacciatore, served with the best Italian pasta and crunchy warm French bread. I make a really good apple crisp for dessert (add the best French vanilla ice cream to that too!) but if I really want to keep it simple, I serve scoops of Italian sorbet in a pretty glass and top it with raspberries and shaved dark chocolate. That’s as fancy as it gets. (BTW, I’m not giving away my secret recipes hee hee)

    You created a beautiful menu and I love how you stay connected with people even during the hardest of times.

    Now having written this I am really missing small dinner parties 😢. But one can dream for better days ❤️

    Susan Grace

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    1. Hi, Susan – You have an incredible talent for making people feel special. I LOVE the sounds of your suggested meal. I am a frequent crockpot user. I love that slow cooking allows us to fix dinner in the morning, set it, forget it and go about our days. Chicken Cacciatore is perfect for this. Adding good Italian pasta, crusty bread, apple crisp (or sorbet) and fresh fruit takes this meal to new heights.
      Oh, and Richard would love traditional Thanksgiving dinner in July. Please don’t let him know that this is an option! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Deb – You’ll be pleased to know that I’ve made this salmon dish three times since I served it to you. And…I remembered the dill every single time. Good thing we were busy laughing, chatting (and drinking a wee glass of wine) that we didn’t notice. I promise to remember the dill the next time that I make this dish for you! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Dawn – This is a great question. I hope that they do continue. These groups have really bonded. In most cases, many of us live countries (if not continents) apart, so IRL meetups would be very difficult. But, as restrictions open up, juggling our schedules could prove challenging. I have my fingers crossed that these groups continue, at least in some form. I’ll keep you posted.

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  6. What a fabulous menu, with great company and conversation – plus bubbles of course! The damper is a must when you visit Australia. I will definitely try some of these recipes. Thanks for sharing Donna 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Debbie – Now you know one of the things that you have to look forward to when you visit Vancouver Island. I promise to make this meal for you then. I look forward to that day!
      And, of course, I will be wanting campfire damper, when I visit there!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Natalie – Great minds think alike! I absolutely adore that Martha Stewart recipe. I have made it numerous times. I wish that I could find a way to add a picture to this comment. Then I would show you one of my versions (I sometimes change the vegetables that I add in).
      Thank you for sharing this link. I highly recommend this recipe to others.

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  7. Your menu sounds lovely and your table setting is perfect. If I were doing this I’d do a Mexican themed dinner with enchiladas and refried beans– and margaritas, of course. And lots of brightly colored plates and glasses on the table. Maybe a piñata if I could find one. And a vase with sunflowers for the centerpiece. Olé!

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    1. Hi, Ally – You’ve made me want to hop on a plane, defy the border rules, and drop by your place for that delicious sounding meal (plus the margaritas). That’s definitely my kind of dinner. (The pinata, plus the sunflowers, are big draws as well)! Thank you for sharing this.:D

      Liked by 1 person

  8. My favorite dinner with friends is a really big charcuterie board with a couple of bottles of wine. I’ve got a great big slate platter I use & will do 3-4 cheeses, 2-3 meats, lots of side things (spiced jelly, unique mustard, olives, nuts, fruit) and a couple types of crackers or sliced baguette. Nibbling and talking for hours. Sigh. I miss those evenings!

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  9. Some friends and I are talking about cooking the same recipe and eating it together on our next Zoom Call. It’s seared scallops with cherry tomatoes and lemon zest! You make a lovely table and I enjoyed learning about Damper Bread!

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    1. Hi, Tracey – I have a friend who prepared, and ate, a meal together with her extended family via Zoom. They had a blast (I believe many bottles of wine were involved). Good luck with your Zoom dinner. If you have the time and the inclination, please post about it. I would love to see photos and hear details! 😀

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  10. I would make a huge paella! I have been practising with a couple of recipes and think I have mastered it! Your menu looks great and now I am dreaming of west coast salmon. xo

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  11. Donna,
    I read this one twice and promised myself I wouldn’t drool the second time. I love new food experiences and, I suppose that is why the RV lifestyle appeals to me so much. My favorite meal for guests to our home is a Southern Seafood Gumbo. Basic but tasty.

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  12. Donna, I loved everything about our virtual dinner! And I did not gain weight…yet.😅 Wait, until I try out the recipes.

    It was fun to get such a variety of meals, along with the creativity in presentation. You still make me smile when I recall how you mentioned it is our dinner time, ergo the extra drooling. The other “continent” friends, breakfast.

    Now, I am patiently waiting for the all-excursions paid feast by a private chef in Australia.xx💕

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    1. Thanks, Erica – It really was fun! Now, I want to make that trip to Australia to do this IRL. That lottery win definitely would be helpful.
      See you Tuesday – I look forward to hearing more about your Uncorked Half Marathon. Your photos were great!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. How fun is this! well I’m not much of a foodie so I would likely share assorted tapas or platters and lots of wine. More so I’d like to come to your dinner and lucky Richard I must say!

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  14. That is a dinner right up my alley, Donna! I didn’t know appetizer and dessert were included. Sign us up! I agree with Janis: lucky Richard. Such fun conversations and meal planning you’ve had. This Covid period is all but boring at your place and on your island lately. 🙂

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  15. The damper reminds me of bannock cooked on a stick over the campfire. when it’s pulled off the stick, the hole is filled with jam. Yum! Garden produce is plentiful right now. If I was hosting a dinner tonight, it would include the lazy beet holubchi (rice sauteed with onions, bacon & shredded beet leaves) I just made to use up the last of the greens from the garden, trout (from the Lucky Lake trout farm in SK) on the BBQ, roasted carrots & beans from the garden. For starters, bruschetta and beverage of choice while the trout cooks. Dessert: lemon cream cheese cake. Anyone who spent the night would get raspberry/white chocolate scones with their coffee. A girl can dream!

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    1. Thanks, Suzanne – Now I can’t wait to make campfire damper. Too bad I didn’t know about this two weeks ago — we were tenting with our grandson then. This gives me an excuse to get off my butt and get out there one more time before cooler weather sets in!

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    1. Thanks, Jill – WordPress can be temperamental that way. 😦
      Unfortunately, there are no leftovers but I’d be happy to make you a fresh batch of whatever you like at any time.
      Congratulations on your recent release of A Home for Her Daughter. I enjoyed it immensely!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Hi Donna – looks to be amazing … and Richard got very lucky! I love eating like this – well in actuality too … I think I’d do Spanokopita and herby bread (not as strong as garlic bread) … but lots of choices … but I’d rather eat everyone else’s food!! Just fun to read … now what do I do for the rest of the day … dribble??! Have a good week – Hilary

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  17. I’m very late to the party Donna, we’ve been road tripping up country, back last evening but it’s never too late to feast my eyes on delicious looking food. I’ll come back tomorrow and check out responses and recipes. Your presentation is so pretty and eye catching to say the least as well as your delicious offerings. What a wonderful idea – food, friends and wine … 🙂

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  18. Hi Donna! Looks like a LOVELY feast and I would have loved to have been able to join you. (in person of course) if that were possible. I am like you in that I always opt to serve something super easy so I can join the crowd and not get stuck preparing every little detail…and as far as how it looks? Oh well, luckily that is not one of my skill sets. But I do appreciate others who have it! How fun that you have a group that not only keeps coming up with interesting things to do and then share them with each other. ~Kathy

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  19. I am such a simple mind!! I don’t know what many of these extravagant dishes are. When you asked what we would prepare for such a dinner, I was wondering to myself if it would need to be something I have actually prepared or something I would love to have magically appear at my table one night.
    Lucky Richard, huh? To enjoy that delicious meal you prepared. So well-thought out and representative of your community. Local flavors. I love that.

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    1. Hi, Leslie – The great thing about these questions is that you can be as literal or as creative as you want. The sky’s the limit!
      Richard did love that I did a literal interpretation as that meant there was something in it for him.
      Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing these kind words!

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    1. Hi, Shakti – Thank you so much for stopping by. I completely agree about shifting to a ‘new normal’. In the case of this Blogger’s virtual meet-up, some of us live in Canada (not beside each other) and others live in Australia (also not beside each other), so this virtual meetup would likely continue either way. Fingers crossed!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Well, that looks delicious! Lucky Richard. When my sisters and I go on an IRL girls trip, one of the highlights is always planning and cooking meals for each other. Food is definitely one of my love languages.

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  21. Oh nooo, I’m so late for dinner! But I’ve been serving chicken broth and then chicken and rice to my guy, out of the hospital from appendix surgery and not ready for any “fancy” meals. But as he recovers and when we pretend we’ll have company for dinner once again. I’ll probably serve my “signature” Dover Sole with roasted fingerling tomatoes and steamed asparagus. Dessert will be my French Silk Chocolate Pie.
    Hey, if you and your guy ever get to the Boston area once we’re out and about again, you’re invited over for dinner!

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    1. Hi, Pam, You’re never too late for dinner at our place. Our kitchen is always open. Your dover sole, fingerling potatoes, asparagus and silk chocolate pie sound amazing! Thank you for the dinner invitation. I’d ♥ to take you up on this and have you here as well. Sending warm get-well wishes to your guy!

      Liked by 1 person

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