August 1, 2011
Over the weekend, we hosted a dinner party for six. It was my dear friend’s birthday, so I knew I had to make it special in the most elegant, but I-just-whipped-this-up-in-my-Louboutins effortless kind of way.
I started my menu with this excellent homemade dinner roll recipe by Kurt Timmermeister that I had been wanting to try for a while. After all, these people are some of our closest friends and regular dinner guests. In my mind, anytime someone bakes fresh bread it’s a singular delight.
For dessert, I knew my guest-of-honor’s favorite treat is fresh baked pie, so I decided to end the meal with cute mini hand pies filled with stone fruit. I’m telling you, having a good pie crust recipe under my belt has opened up a whole new world of dessert options! To fill in my menu, I went to our local fish market for some fresh-caught protein, and then on to the farmers market for my veggies (and some scrumptious bacon … holy moly, was that good). Oh what fabulous food inspiration the farmers market held!
Even though I didn’t need tomatoes, I could not resist buying from this sweet lady.
Have you tried Dragon Tongue Snap Beans? They’re a little bit sweeter than regular green beans, and they’re best raw (either plain or with a good dip). Yum!
Beautiful garlic and zucchini …
Tables of gorgeous mushrooms …
And piles of peas still in their pods.
And when we got home, my live-in sous-chefs got to work. It was a fun and inspiring day for all.
Menu and Table
Crudité and Salty Dogs in the garden: I actually moved a table and chairs to go smack in the middle of my veggie garden. Then I cut a smattering of coral and hot cocoa colored roses and arranged them in a low burlap-covered vase.
First Course: I had guests meander over to the fireplace while I plated the first course: corn pudding with sautéed farmers market mushrooms, wild arugula, and cherry tomatoes. Drizzled with Meyer lemon vinaigrette and served with Champagne.
Bread: Fresh and hot homemade hard rolls with farmers market butter. Honestly, we could have eaten just this and skipped the dinner!
Main: Next, we served pan-fried local white sea bass over a mixture of fresh beans (cannellini and cranberry beans), along with English peas, bacon and pistou, all topped with a tomato, onion, and sherry sauce. To drink, we had a delightful fruity red burgundy.
For the table, I just snipped a few of my golden celebration roses and plopped them into low stone bowls, making sure to leave some negative space between them. This was easy and beautiful. I shoved two square tables together near the fireplace seating area and covered them in a light taupe tablecloth sprinkled with votive candles. Then I layered white dishes on top of woven chargers.
Dessert: Apricot hand pies with basil whipped cream. So delicious (if I do say so my gosh darn self!)
OK, so I know this photo isn’t the greatest, but here are the hand pies in their serving dish.