Perhaps the key to a good dinner party is going with the flow. It's a practice that I've heard about, but never quite got the hang of. However, equipped with a burnt arm, an ambitious menu, and one ever-positive helper in the form of my cousin, I'd like to think I did just that. Guests arrived while my cousin and I were still cooking (as it turns out, a recipe that will produce 50+ blinis cooked in batches of 8 max takes a long, long time), but I think it was okay. You can't really wrap a slice of filet around a lump of crabmeat, but it didn't stop me. The hollandaise sauce approached solid form as it waited to be dolloped, but I plowed ahead. About an hour after the party was scheduled to start, I took off my apron and sat down.
And the soup? I warmed it up but it took a sideline to the hors d'oeuvres. In fact, a few people were too full to eat it. But it was good.
My lessons learned: 1) creme fraiche is better spread thin on bread than something savory like a sweet potato pancake; 2) everything you have planned to make will take double the time you allotted for it; 3) next time, explore the "chafing dish" option; 4) have a bar at the ready with an ice bucket for guests to help themselves; 5) give serious consideration to the concept of catering; and last but perhaps more important, 6) remain grateful for your friends.
All in all, a great evening.