The Very Merry Housewife_Dinner Party!

I’m starting a new series of posts titled ‘The Very Merry Housewife’ which is going to be all about kicking ass domestically.  Mostly things like brutal truth about recipe win/loss ratios and how to throw dinner parties ‘like a boss’ (still trying to decide if I like that term).  In this edition, my spring dinner party for 6!

I recently read a dazzling blog post over at The Kitchn about a vegetarian spring-time dinner for 6 and made no secret that I planned to lift the entire menu and try it out on a few willing participants. And so I did! I made the same menu twice for two different groups and reactions were overwhelmingly positive both times. So, I’m going to talk about the recipes but, more importantly, discuss the timing and prep required to pull an event like this off while still being able to have fun.

Appetizers:

Rosemary and Chipotle Spiced Nuts Ok, I used paprika instead of chipotle spice because I too lazy to run around looking for that spice. The nuts turned out fine. No one died. Carry on. If I’ve learned one thing in cooking, it’s not to stress too much about particular spices. In baking, you don’t want to sub baking powder for baking soda but when it comes to non-specific spices, no stress. Just use what’s readily available. Also, nuts tend to be expensive but the recipe makes plenty for your party and snacks for later.

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Cream Cheese and Arugula Toast Bits Another modification here: I did not use the mini toasts she refers to in the recipe. Instead, I got a skinny baguette, toasted the slices under the broiler, and carried on with the recipe as noted. I ended up with a lot more than I needed so the extra made a nice snack in subsequent days.

Here’s a picture of the appetizer scene at Chez Fluvial (aka ‘Radiance’):
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Main Course

Creamy Watercress Soup (with lemon-goatcheese dumplings)
This. Soup. Is. Awesome. I’ve made the soup four times now and will likely be making it again soon. It’s very easy, tastes incredible and deserves the categorization of ‘Naughty & Nice’ due to the fact that it has both heavy cream (naughty) and a whole pound of watercress (nice). The recipe calls for lemon-goatcheese dumplings but, while very tasty, you end up with way more dumplings than you could possibly eat and it just adds mess and time to your day. Low ROI on those dumplings so I opted to omit them for the party. As you’ll see in my timing section later, I made the soup ahead of time and kept it warm in the crock pot. Such a very merry housewife thing to do! Picture below:

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Roasted Potatoes, Radishes, and Fennel with Lemon Brown Butter Sauce I’m kicking myself for not getting a picture of these pretty veggies pre-roasting! They were gorgeous with the pink of the radish, the purple of the potatoes, and scent of fennel making it all come together. Roast these guys about 10 minutes longer than the recipe calls for if you want them crunchy (my preferred method).

Baked Ricotta with Lemon, Garlic, and Chives This recipe was such a winner. The warm ricotta with zesty lemon flavor was delightful especially when paired with rosemary bread. Make extra because it’ll be gone fast.

Dessert

Dessert was creme brulee (as posted about previously) but I made Roasted Strawberries to go on top. The recipe has goat cheese and puff pastry but I just liked the idea of roasted strawberries on smooth cream. Also, these strawberries go excellent over pancakes, ice cream, etc. 16 ounces of fresh strawberries reduces to about 1.5 cups once cooking is complete.

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Logistics

When you’re planning a multi-course dinner party, planning is your friend. Take the time to read each recipe thoroughly and make a project plan accommodating for cooking time and the need to share oven space. Make as many things ahead as possible! Here’s the plan that worked for me:

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To be clear, starting at 4pm gave me about 30 minutes of extra time that I didn’t need. This menu safely takes about 3 hours if you’re efficient and have two ovens. I recommend making the nuts, strawberries, and creme brulee ahead of time just to take stress out of your immediate pre-dinner prep.

And one final photo: the table!

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So that’s it! A spring time dinner party for 6. ‘Twas delicious and what’s better than giving the gift of homemade food to your friends?

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~ by fluvial on June 11, 2013.

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