A Festive Dinner, The Menu

January 15, 2013

20130115-075546.jpg I have received requests in the past about the menu of dinners where I show the table setting. It rounds out the visual and the story, I completely get that. Challenge is, once guests walk through the front door, all focus is on them and I rarely take photos. Before everyone arrives, we are scurrying around getting things ready, and I tend to be singularly focused on that task. So my apologies on no photos to go along with this post of the food. Next time, I promise.

We like to put out a pretty substantial amount of things on the coffee table for when guests arrive. We like a fairly long time of conversation, cocktails and hearty nibbles. I am not a fan of the word hors d’oeuvre, probably because I can never spell it and always have to look it up. I prefer nibbles. Potato, potata. We always set out a bowl or 2 of nuts. For this night, a bowl of almonds with truffle salt and a bowl of cashews. Hummus with olive oil drizzled over the top with toasted pine nuts scattered on top of that. Thanks Ina! Store bought hummus. We were given 2 incredible jars of pickled things for Christmas–green beans & cauliflower–and they came in those cool Weck glass containers, so those were in the mix. A piece of Manchego cheese set next to a jar of Boat Street pickled plums. A large bowl with cut up slices of Macrina seeded baguette. Radishes with a tiny dish of fleur de sel. Lastly, a Brie that I wrapped in pastry dough and baked with figs and fig jam. This was really the only thing we made to have with drinks. Everything else was just assembled. More on that later.

I worked the Market shop that day and TPS was working in the office at the Home shop, so we knew we would be pressed for time, as the stores close at 6 and guests were arriving at 7:30. The dinner would be the amazing cassoulet from Cafe Campagne. We have never let a tight schedule stop us from entertaining. Who really cares if you don’t cook the entire meal? To go along with the cassoulet Mister Sive steamed haricot vert and put a dollop of butter over them. Bowls of baguette slices were at each end of the table as well as bowls of French salted butter. We cleared plates and served the salad course. An arugula salad with pink grapefruit slices along with pieces of blue cheese I just broke off and scattered on top. I made a shallot & Dijon mustard vinaigrette before everyone arrived. Just a simple French meal served with Cote du Rhone red wine or Domaine Pouillon white wine. That is the wine to be featured tomorrow for Wine Wednesday.

For dessert a pear with chocolate tart from our friends at La Panier in the Market. The point I wanted to make earlier is that not everything has to be cooked at home in order to have guests over for a meal. Augmenting with some of your favorite things from your favorite restaurants and bakeries makes hosting a meal after a long day at work doable. Just make sure the house is tidy and that the table is set. It just takes a bit of thinking ahead and planning. The main thing is that everyone gets together and has a swell time. It was such a fun evening!