Break Out the China

Remember when you sorted through various china patterns, in search of the perfect one to add to your bridal registry? You gently ran a finger over different plates, bowls and accessories until you came to the pattern that just captured you.

Or perhaps you inherited your grandmother’s china—maybe it was something special your grandfather brought back to her after the war, like mine did—and you lovingly unwrapped all of those pieces and stored them carefully in the china cabinet, knowing you’d think of your grandparents fondly when you used the set. But there the china still sits, collecting dust, rarely touched—appearing more like a museum collection than actual dinnerware.

Well now’s the time to break out the china!

Using your fine china makes a meal seem special, even if it’s just a family dinner after soccer practice on a Wednesday night. Guests at a dinner party feel honored when they see your table set with fine china. And you’ll actually get to enjoy it up close, instead of admiring it through the glass of the china cabinet.

For some, the concern about caring for delicate china keeps those plates locked away. While many hand-wash their china to protect it, I actually find my own slippery fingers less reliable for dishwashing than the dishwasher itself. Most machines sold today have special cycles for delicate china, and as long as you don’t overcrowd the racks, your plates will hold up just fine.

So what to serve on that gorgeous china now that you’ve decided to give it a night out of the cabinet? The answer is anything. It could be as simple as pizza and salad or as elaborate as a multi-course holiday meal—the point is to simply make regular use of your china and enjoy it. If you still need a little inspiration, you might try this fun menu for a Mexican-themed dinner.

Cream of Cilantro Soup
Serves 10

The aromatic vegetables in this soup combined with the cilantro give it wonderful flavor. If you have leftover soup, add some thinly sliced celery to it the next day and simmer until soft for a great lunch.

Chicken Mole
Serves 8

The heat level of peppers varies widely, so check to see just how spicy your pasilla peppers are before adding all 4 chipotle chiles to the mole sauce, or omit the chipotles altogether if you prefer a milder sauce.

Corn and Black Bean Relish
Serves 8-10

This simple combination of vegetables, set off by lime juice and cilantro, is a perfect easy side dish for the Mexican mole.

About the author: Michele Morris leads cooking dinner parties, teaches private and group cooking classes for both kids and adults, and caters in-home events. For more great recipes, cooking tips and resources, visit her website

Categories: Entertaining, Recipes