This weekend we had two couples over for dinner. I was possibly a little crazy for inviting friends to dinner on a night my husband was at work all day, but a combination of doing stuff ahead and the baby taking an astonishing 3 hour nap made putting everything together no problem at all.
Baked bried for an hors d’ouvre (had to have something to snack on because we didn’t eat until after the kids went to bed)
Chicken stuffed with ricotta and spinach (Everyday Food recipe) *for my vegetarian friend I stuffed tomatoes with the filling and roasted them at the same time.
Tiella (Michael Ciarello recipe)
A nice loaf of bread with Asiago cheese grated on top and baked
Salad of mixed greens and Boston lettuce with mandarin oranges, red onion, and hot candied walnuts and a light vinaigrette
Dessert: Pear Bread with Ginger served with homemade almond ice cream.
Everything turned out great. The almond ice cream was my first time doing a cooked ice cream base and it wasn’t difficult at all. This particular recipe called for a tube of almond paste which, although I sieved the custard once, lent a somewhat gritty texture to the finished product. I think next time I’ll sieve it twice. The chicken called for a bone in breast per person, but it turned out to be way too much. I think next time I’d buy fewer breasts and then slice the breasts and present the slices on a platter. Possibly my favorite part of dinner was the salad. I was glad I took the time to make the nuts and put them in. They were Hot Candied Walnuts from, where else?, Party Nuts. I’ve often made these for gifts or just to have at the holidays. In this slightly sweet salad they added a nice bite (both flavor and texture).
Here’s the nut recipe: Put 3/4 c sugar in a heavy bottom pan. Cook over high heat until it turn sa light caramel color, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 2 T unsalted butter and stir until melted. Add 2 c walnut halves and stir to coat evenly (pull off the heat so the sugar doesn’t go past a nice caramel.) Transfer the nuts to a baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat and bake in a 35o oven for about 15 minutes, stirring around every 5 minutes or so. Remove from oven and toss the nuts with a mixture made of: 1 t kosher salt, 1/2 t cumin, 1 t freshly ground black pepper, 1/4 t cayenne pepper, 2 T sugar. Make sure the nuts get nicely evenly coated and spread them back out onto more parchment or the silpat and use a couple of forks to pull the nuts apart. Let them cool completely.
And here’s the pear bread recipe (from Simple Art of Quick Breads–a wonderful cookbook which I seem to have misplaced in my house somewhere) :
Cream together 1 stick of soft unsalted butter and 1 c sugar. Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time. Add 1 1/2 t vanilla. Separately mix together 2 c flour, 1 t baking powder, 1/2 t baking soda, pinch salt, and grated zest of 1 lemon. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alnternating with 1/4 c buttermilk. Beat until smooth. Fold in 1 1/2 c peeled chopped pear and 1/2 c finely chopped crystallized ginger. Smooth into a greased loaf pan and bake in a 350 oven for 55 -65 minutes.
some days later…how funny is this post on Stuff White People Like–#90-Dinner Parties