My dinner welcomes fall. It's a dinner I hosted to allow myself and my guests the luxury to relax and enjoy life (I know this sounds hokey but it's true). I like most people work - a lot. So taking my limited time and sharing it with my friends over cocktails, wine and a home cooked meal on a Saturday evening is a great luxury. So with my glass raised "Cheers! To the luxury of time and the good fortune of friendship!"
The menu I came up with was mostly prepared the night before. I had to be in the office the day of the party so having everything mostly done was a HUGE help! I love having cocktails ready for my friends when they arrive, it really helps to set the mood. These Apple Crisp Cocktails are a wonderful way to welcome in fall. I took a shot of vodka and mixed it with 1.5 shots of fresh apple cider and .5 shot pomegranate juice and a squirt of lemon. I lined the rim with lemon and then dusted it with sugar and cloves. The accent is an apple slice and star anise!
For an appetizer I served Smoked Salmon Puffs. The individual puff pastry tarts are meant to make my friends feel special! I made the tart shells from a good stand-by Peperidge Farm's frozen sheets. I top these right before serving. I took a cup of creme fraiche (sour cream also works), a heaping tablespoon of horseradish, a handful of chopped dill, a spoonful of capers, salt and pepper and mixed it together. Each tart got a dollop of creme and was followed by smoked salmon, crispy fried shallots, more dill and capers They were sooo good! Even my friend Simon who does not eat fish enjoyed them!
The second course was a Golden Beet Carpaccio Salad. Golden beets have become one of my favorite vegetables. Their texture is silky and the taste is sweet. The colors of this salad are sumptuous making them a feast for the eyes. I roasted golden beets the night before. The day of, I thinly sliced and placed them like carpaccio on salad plates. They were topped with chopped radicchio, endive and gorgonzola. The dressing is SO simple. In a jar I combined buttermilk, white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper and shook until well mixed. The tart dressing stands up well to the sweetness of the beets.
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The Savory Bread Pudding got raves! I tore up a loaf of challah and then toasted it. In a large bowl I mixed 4 eggs, 2 cups half and half and 1/2 cup grated parmesean. In a large skillet I sauted 3 shallots and garlic and then added a package of wild mushrooms as well as a small package of chopped white mushrooms and let cook untill the moisture was gone. I then threw in a large handful of chopped parsley. I added the mushroom mixture and the bread to the cream mix and let soak for 10 minutes. Once ready I added mixture to ramekins swathed in butter and topped with more parmesean. I let them cook for 30 minutes until toasty. The gravy from the ribs was an amazing compliment to the pudding!
Cooking with bacon is a luxury I don't often allow myself! It adds such a wonderful salty / smokey flavor to the brussel sprouts as well as to the beef! Bacon makes everything taste better...
Finally dessert - Sparkling Strawberry Floats. I don't like it when I have eaten so much I'm overly full before dessert comes (since it's my favorite part of a meal) or when dessert is too heavy. Just a few weeks ago at a CT wine fest I grabbed some bottles of strawberry sparkling wine from a local vineyard. When I had this at the tasting I KNEW exactly what I was going to do with it - make floats! With some fantastic vanilla bean ice cream these were a big hit! The citrus cookies are a light crunchy compliment. I just took a basic sugar cookie recipe and added lemon and orange zest.
Any party pro will tell you lots of candles, some flowers and great music set a great stage for a party. I fully agree. My place is small so a few candles go a long way. I also love touches of flowers everywhere (even in the powder room along with a candle). Early in the morning before work, I went to the local flower market and grabbed a mix of colors that complimented my linens.Remember, it's a party and it should be fun! Entertain with what you have, it's OK if everything does not come from a set or match! I'm just starting out and in the process of putting together my home, I'm sure when I get married, I'll have lots more to work with. In the mean time I like mixing and matching my dinnerware and linens. It's your warmth and the little touches that makes your friends feel welcome. If the food is a flop, remember what Julia said, "Never Appologize!" your friends will still walk away and remember what a wonderful evening they had.
A very special thank you to my friend and dinner guest Craig who put together the video!!
I hope you enjoyed reading about my fall dinner! I've asked my friends to leave comments so you can hear their side of the evening (I hope they had fun!). If you have been enjoying my FoodBuzz Blogger Challenge posts please vote to keep me in the competition & also feel free to comment! I love reading what you think or may do different. Enjoy!!