First of all, Good Luck! Nothing like putting pressure on yourself! At least it's only one woman!
A formal dinner that is 5 courses has the following:
I have been served these courses here in the US as well as Europe so it's fairly common (well, as common as formal dining can be ). I'm sure you can do other things and still consider it a formal meal. You could have Hor’s Douerves with a cocktail before the meal. Maybe a choice of dessert or a cheese course. Since you say that she makes wonderful desserts...I'd probably go with the cheese course.
I love starting a meal with soup and depending on when you have the meal, use a soup that shows off the veggies of the season.
My second favorite course is the fish...I love fish! Fish for a fish course is usually served cold. Here are a couple of trout recipes that work very well for a fish course. The first one is for a main course but you can reduce it for a fish course.
TRUITE AU BLEU (BLUE TROUT)
2 tb Butter
1/2 ts Thyme
1 Shallot of scallion, minced
2 tb Minced fresh parsley
1 Rib celery w/leaves/chopped
1 Bay leaf
1 Carrot, thinly sliced
3 c Water
1 Dressed trout, head and all
1 c White wine or dry vermouth
But cut into chunks
3 tb Tarragon vinegar
1 tb Salt
5 Whole 10" trout
This dish is basically trout poached in a vegetable court bouillon flavored with a cut-up trout. It is a lovely way to offer the delicacy of trout, and can be either a fish course, if the trout are 6-8 inchers, or a main course if the trout are 10-11 inchers. As a fish course for a game dinner serve the trout cold ( in an aspic if you wish-see below).
In a big saucepan or deep skillet with lid melt the butter and sauté the vegetables until the shallot is just soft.
Add the single cut-up trout and the remaining ingredients (except whole trout), bring to a bubble, and simmer for ten minutes or so.
Add the dressed whole trout, cover, and simmer slowly for about
If the dish is a main course, remove the fish, drain, and serve
immediately with melted butter and lemon juice or herb butter.
If the dish is just a fish course, allow the fish to cool in the liquor and serve the drained trout with a slice of lemon.
TROUT SERVED COLD IN ASPIC
1 Poached trout
1 c Tomato sauce
4 ts Gelatin
If you'd like to serve the trout as a fish course in aspic, let the trout cool in the liquor, then remove and drain the trout.
Strain the liquor the trout were simmered in, add to it the tomato sauce, and over fire stir in the gelatin. Stir over low heat just until the gelatin melts. Set gelatin liquid in refrigerator until it cools but is not as yet "set."
Arrange trout in a flat dish, pour over them the aspic, and allow to set. Arrange parsley and then lemon slices around the trout and serve.
Well-behaved women seldom make history!