Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Dinner Party

Part 1: Preparations

Tonight I am having a dinner party. Now what is the cardinal rule of entertaining? Never make anything you haven’t made before. Now what did I do with this dinner party? You guessed it! Broke cardinal rule with absolutely every dish that I am making.

As Manatee said, why make things easy?

With the exception of the dessert, the menu is designed to pair with Pinot Noir. But by the time we get to the dessert, hopefully the guests won’t be caring too much about pairing.

Here is our menu:

Cheesy Mushroom Bread
Goat Cheese Empanadas with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce with Lemon and Basil

Aragula and Spinach, Red Grapes, Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Sticks, Feta
Balsamic Dijon vinaigrette

Roasted Chicken Breasts with Pinot Noir Sauce
Buttered Green Beans with Mushrooms
Roasted Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes

Crust-less Pumpkin Pies with Spiced Whipped Cream

Last night I made the pumpkin pies and the roasted red pepper sauce. I also shredded a pound of Swiss cheese (yay food processor!), cut up the mushrooms, and prepped the green beans.

Things I learned:

1. Parchment paper is only ‘oven safe’ up to 425 degrees. Lucky I learned this before I put into the oven but after I subbed it for foil when roasting peppers and garlic. I had an inkling it could result in disaster so I actually read the package. Oops. Worked totally fine on a pan.

2. Why haven’t I roasted red peppers before? It was so easy! I guess it's not technically a lesson but a pleasant surprise.

That’s all I have so far. As part of my heritage, it is impossible for me to make just one trip to the store so I do have to run back for foil, chicken broth and possibly either ginger snaps or ingredients for ginger snaps. The crust-less pumpkin pies need a crunch so I may add either crumbled cookies or small cookies inserted into the top. We’ll see.

How to Roast Red Peppers

1. Cut red peppers in half vertically. Discard seeds and stems.

2. Place on foil (or just on a pan) skin side up.

3. Mist with olive oil.

4. Broil for 10-12 minutes until tops are charred.

5. Remove and let ‘rest’ until they are cool to the touch.

6. Peel off skins and voila! You have roasted red peppers.

*I roasted garlic alongside the peppers for the sauce. I was supposed to put them into a foil packet but it worked fine just leaving them out on the pan. When I took the peppers out, I turned the oven off but left the garlic in until the peppers were cool to the touch.

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