Dinner Party – Success!
Yesterday, I was under an immense amount of pressure. Most dinner parties, I can handle pretty easily. This one was no different – 3 simple courses, 6 people. I’ve done it many, many times. But this one was special. It was special because I’ve known the lady coming to dinner my whole life. In fact, she was the one who delivered me into this world. Talk about pressure, huh? My dear Mohini auntie recently moved back to Tennessee from Boston and my parents had invited her and her daughter in law, Maya, over for dinner. I, of course, said I would make dinner as I had never cooked for Mohini auntie before and sadly, hadn’t seen her in over 5 years!
Now would be the time where I offer the before and after pictures – of when I was born 25 years ago to now, but as Mohini auntie has specifically forbade me from posting any pictures online (🙂 ), I’ll share with you what I made for dinner.
This was precise – and I’ll certainly post up some recipes later in the week, but this was what we had for dinner last night.
Spinach & Cheese Ravioli, Mushrooms, Garlic, Lemon Zest, Chives
I knew I was going to do pasta as a first course. And with my great friends over at Lazzaroli Pasta, I can have fresh, homemade ravioli without all the work. I kept it relatively simply. I sautéed the mushrooms with olive oil, garlic, and rosemary and then added a bit of mushroom stock that reduced and really intensified the mushroom flavor. After a pat of butter, I tossed the sauce over the spinach and cheese ravioli and garnished with fresh lemon zest and chives – straight from the garden. A great beginning. Two raviolis are a good appetizer portion, I think.
Garlic-Herb Roasted Chicken Breast, Carrot-Ginger puree, Spicy Brussel Sprouts, Herbed Couscous with pistachios and raisins
This was an ultimate dish. Even though there are a lot of components, they all sing beautifully together. And EVERYONE had seconds! I roasted the chicken breasts (bone in, skin on) with a mixture of herbs (parsely, rosemary, thyme, oregano), garlic, and lemon zest. When I served, I cut the breast off the bone and gave 1/2 a breast to everyone. The carrot ginger puree is really easy to make – it’s just onion, carrot, thyme, ginger, orange juice, and some chicken stock that is simmered together and pureed in a blender. It’s not only a great taste, but also has a stunning color. The couscous is really simple and acts as the starch – it’s mixed with parsley, lemon zest, toasted pistachios, and raisins. This was supposed to be the dish.
But, as I walked through the market, I saw these brussel sprouts and I knew I had to have them. I quickly boiled and blanched them, and then caramelized them with some butter and honey. My interesting spin was that after they were nicely caramelized, I tossed them with fresh cucumber and red jalapeño chile. What a lovely combination it was! The earthiness of the sprouts really meshed well with the freshness of the cucumber, and the spice of the chile is always appreciated. Maya couldn’t stop eating the brussel sprouts!
If you’re wondering where I learned how to swoosh the puree…let’s just say I watch too much Top Chef and Iron Chef. But all you do is put a spoonful of puree in one spot. Take the back of the spoon and swipe it in any direction in one strong movement. Voila! Your food looks fancy!
If I’m making some intricate dishes, I don’t want to be in the kitchen all the time. I want to spend some time with the guests and talk. When it comes to desert, for me, there’s nothing better than a fresh baked cookie. And maybe some homemade fig-balsamic jam that I made. This is just a basic shortbread cookie – it’s 4 ingredients, and so easy to make, even without my baker-extraordinare sister. I warmed the fig jam some in the oven while the cookies were cooling. Very tasty, not too sweet, a perfect way to end a meal.
Last night was great. It was fantastic to reunite with Mohini auntie and I hope that she comes over for dinner every Wednesday! That’ll mean more Epicurean Adventures for me!