Monday, January 25, 2010

A Magical Evening with Friends

This past weekend, we were finally able to hold a dinner here that had been indefinitely rescheduled from November! One child with pneumonia in November, the other with h1n1 in December, and the general holiday madness, including but not limited to always having 2 Christmases over a four day span left it nearly impossible to do before January.

The couples invited had never before now met each other, something I still find hard to fathom. But the spark of inspiration that had us select these pairs to get together did not disappoint.

From the cooking, the conversations, the eating, and the guitars and singing afterward, there was never the tiniest lull-- one of those rare sparkling nights that will forever stand out.

Something that made it so very special for me, was all the involvement help and encouragement in the kitchen. I am NEVER completely ready when guests arrive. This evening, I had the baguettes baked, the the crostatas assembled (thanks to my teen- it warmed my heart to have him cooking with me!) when the first guests arrived.

As a frustrated foodie, in a house with multiple food allergies, and picky eaters, I can't TELL YOU THE JOY I experienced and still do when I recall, for example, grabbing some tea spoons to encourage those helping me in the kitchen to taste the different vinegars I'd selected to determine one to go with the Poblano, onion, fennel and orange zested Salmon. OOOOh! How the right one became apparent! Great joy, bonding and tastebud revival abounded!

And of course, it never hurts to have a professional chef as a guest! I guiltily accepted more help that I should have, while he made very quick and expert work of some of the remaining tasks! I always learn when I watch him; for example I would never have though to grab the shears out of the knife block to core the peppers, which were to be slit up the sides rather than topped since they were long red ones. And the chiffonade of the fennel bulb drew a crowd, who audibly exhaled the breath they were holding when he at last lowered his eyes back to the chopping board!

The Menu:

Apple, Walnut and Brie Crostata

Bliss Potato, Apple, and Golden Beet Crostata, on spiced pear butter, with fresh rosemary & coarse sea salt.

Baguette Crostini, cheeses, Fig Jam, olives, gardinieria, etc.

Red Peppers stuffed with Penne, capers, olives and Fontina Cheese (with cheeseless ones for some)

Salmon rubbed with orange zest, ground fennel, thin rings of Poblano pepper and Onion, drizzled with Fig infused vinaigrette.

Top Sirloin Steak rubbed with fresh garlic black and red peppercorns, grey salt.

Panzanella Salad of arugula with garlic rubbed bread, sliced fennel and fronds, basil leaves,red onion, garnished with roasted mushroom assortment. (to please both those who do and don't like mushrooms!)

Various Chocolate desserts, including Gluten free Chocolate Cake.


Several Guitars, and many voices, time forgotten, joyful laughter.

Everything gluten free, of course, except some of the desserts others brought.

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