Crazed dinner party
Ok, I will be the first to admit it. When I host a "event" dinner, I get crazed. An event dinner is where I have to put on some sort of show, kind of like Thanksgiving. This is different than just having friends over for dinner where it is much more manageable and considerably less time consuming.
This past Monday, I had an event dinner for 6. Four people "won" this dinner at a local charity auction. The extra pressure was that the same four "won" the previous year, liked it so much, that they wanted to come again. So the added pressure was to have the dinner as good as the previous year.
The reason why I get crazed is because I want to make everything. The slippery slope gets very slippery. one thing leads to another and next thing I know, I am cooking for about 3 days straight. Ultimately, I had about 11 dishes... many of these Chowhound inspired. I also do a lot of "blind" cooking for these events since there isn't usually time to test them out.
BTW, I totally spaced in picture taking. But, I did take a few. When it came to serving everything, I focused on getting stuff to the table and forgot about the camera. I even had the camera on my work table so I wouldn't forget, but c'est la vie.
Many of the recipes that I gleaned from Chowhound over the years. I used to cut and paste the recipe into a word document. Now, I just bookmark the link.
Garlic Artichoke Dip
This was delicious and easy. The best was that I could make it a few hours ahead of time and just plop it into the oven. big hit with the guests. I served this with baby carrots, thin flatbread crackers and assorted sweet peppers. I also had potato chips, but no one wanted those.
This served a multi purpose. I could use the last of my home grown tomatoes and basil. The basil actually wasn't that good, because it's been cold in New England. So, instead of topping the melty cheese with basil, I made homemade pesto and used that as a topping.
Leftover tomato caprese salad
This was the ends of the tomatoes (where it looked funny on the bread) and leftover bufalo mozzarella. Topped with pesto
Grilled - Salmon with ginger and scallions
This is what was leftover of a 3 lbs piece of salmon
Grilled - Rosemary encrusted steak - the crust was a rosemary, garlic, kosher salt and pepper smushed on to strip steak. one of my favorites. This never looks that pretty because the rosemary tends to burn, but damn, it tastes good.
Grilled eggplant and red onion relish - perfect accompaniment with the steak.
Sugar snap peas with lemon and mint - why I don't have a picture of this, I don't know. This is an easy dish. Blanch the peas. Dressing is mint, evoo, lemon juice and salt. The only pain is to taking off the ends on the peas. 2 lbs took me about 40 minutes.
Braised broccoli rabe and argula - look on the ABB veggie thread. I couldn't use the red hot pepper flakes because one of the guests doesn't eat spicy food.
Desserts - this is really the slippery slope for me
Coconut cupcakes from Ina Garten - love these. I've made these numerous times in the past.
I don't have a 16 cup tin, mine is 12. It's always been fine.
Aztec hot pudding cake
This was ok. I decided to try it because it looked like I could throw it together. I pre-assembled most of the ingredients ahead of time. Then, in the middle of dinner, I put it in the oven. When it finished, I took it out. But, it was a boisterous party, and the middle dropped. I used ancho chili powder. next time, I would put more in it for more of a bite. Edited - or, I would use cayenne which is what I add to my brownies.
Maple Flan - I didn't make the pears to go with this. This was fabulous. I had never made it before. I did use a loaf pan, but it wasn't very attractive. I usually make flans in a round souffle flan. I will use that next time.
Zuni's expresso granita - I love this dessert. I consider it one of my "wow" desserts. And this time, I even chopped it correctly. In the past, when I didn't fully read the "how to" granita directions, I froze the liquid in a glass dish. After the entire thing was frozen, I would chop, using this cheap, plastic pastry cutter that I got free from somewhere. It was a little painful and I would frantically scoop out the chopped pieces and put the in a plastic container and put it in the freezer. Then I would chop some more, yell to my husband to please get the container out, and repeat. This time, I chopped every few hours. So much easier and the texture was better. What also helped is that it wasn't twenty thousand degrees in the kitchen, like the other times I made this dessert. For the coffee itself, I made a cold coffee concentrate. 9 cups of water with 1 lb of ground coffee. Filtering it is a pain, but it's delicious. I make this all summer and usually have a batch in the fridge.
I was really tired, but hyped up on adrenalin and caffeine (had the leftover coffee because I needed the space in the fridge.). But, it was a fun evening.
Wow! Four desserts does sound over-the-top, but I wouldn't complain! The Zuni granita is fantastic at the restaurant, and I have to make it soon.
Thanks so much for taking the time to report after an event like that. I'm not so good about bookmarking recipes on CH, but I've certainly gotten some good recipes from this board!
bravo! 11 dishes for a party of 6?? i usually have the same issue, getting crazed over wanting to make everything myself from scratch. anyway the eggplant and red onion relish looks fantastic. i'll have to try that someday...