Summer Dinner Party - need to impress
I need suggestions - I am making dinner for 5 people tomorrow and it is hot, hot, hot here in NYC. Does anyone have appetizer and entree suggestions that don't require a lot of cooking over the hot stove?
I love cold soup on a hot night-- it looks elegant and is often makes a light first course. Plus, people rarely serve it so it seems somewhat exotic. Double plus, it can be prepared entirely in advance. I like a tomato consommé similar to the other poster but the clarification requires some advance planning. Other ideas include vichyssoise, cucumber-buttermilk garnished with dill and poached shrimp, cold borscht, etc.
I also recommend reducing the amount you normally prepare-- smaller amounts of food on the table feel lighter. A light herb salad served with a single perfect cheese is a wonderful way to end the meal. Again, it feels lighter than cheese at the beginning. Finally, sneak a little spice into the meal because it is wakes up the tastes buds and has a cooling effect on the body.
Our menu last night (below) required some advance preparation but was very easy during the meal itself.
Home-smoked Salmon and Caviar with Dill Crème Fraiche and Toasts
Cold Tomato Consommé (garnished with diced cantaloupe marinated with a little fresh ginger and served with shrimp poached in crab boil and then marinated with lemon zest, basil, and chili)
Leg of Lamb grilled over wild Greek oregano and marinated with parsley, mint, and lemon.
Farro with hints of chili and cinnamon
Herb and Microgreen Salad served with ripe Red Hawk (stinky soft cheese)
Summer Berry Cake-- Perfect Butter Cake (Cake Bible) with Fresh Boysenberry Compote and Crème Fraiche Whipped Cream
Shrimp is good to make when it's hot because it cooks so fast. I have been marinating shrimp in a chimichuri sauce and then broiling it (I live in NYC as well = no grill). I also marinate chicken cubes this way as well.
You could even make the chimichurri shrimp and then buy some lamb sausages at Fairway to supplement. The lamb sausages at Fairway are amazing and have a middle eastern falvor to them.
I once made an amazing appetizer - smoked salmon ice cream ! It consisted of pureeing some smoked salmon in a food processor, adding whipping cream, and then blending them together (sorry, can't remember quantities). Throw into an ice cream maker. Serve in a Martini glass, decorated with some greenery. No cooking involved.
A no-cooking soup I've been enjoying this summer comes from Charlie Trotter. In a blender purée 2 english cucumbers peeled and chopped (or regular cukes peeled, seeded and chopped), 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 cup plain yogurt, salt and white pepper to taste. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (doesn't suffer from being made the day before). To serve, place a small amount of shredded cabbage kimchi in the centre of a bowl, ladle the soup over and garnish with snow pea sprouts, chervil leaves, chive petals or what have you. Served in small rice bowls, this makes a cool and elegant starter.