Thursday, February 15, 2007

Casual Gathering

If I only knew if they liked it... We had friends over for Sunday lunch. We were 6 adults and 3 children (who are too young for table food). I went overboard and made way too much food. I played the role of the insecure hostess and asked myself a ton of what-ifs when I planned the menu. What if they don't like it, what if this recipe doesn't turn out good... I planned an ultra casual gathering with comfort foods and chocolaty desserts. But I spent most of the time in the kitchen and didn't have time to socialize and enjoy my guests. I guess that's an excuse to have them over again. I love having my house full of interesting and fun people. The lunch menu was "Pear, Walnut, and Blue Cheese Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette" and "Gnocchi and Puttanesca Sauce". I made a couple of Focaccias, a Baked Brie Cheese, Bruschetta, Crab and Artichoke Dip with Toast, and Pretzel with Ginger Wasabi Sauce. For dessert I made Chocolate Covered Strawberry and Hazelnut and Cream Puffs - everything from scratch. No wonder I was so busy. Some were new recipes, some old recipes. They are all keepers. I made little chocolate shapes for the Hazelnut and Cream Puffs and got a lot of compliments. They were so cute and delicious. I will make them again and take pictures.

Pear, Walnut, and Blue Cheese Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette (from Cooking Light Magazine)

1/2 cup canned whole-berry cranberry sauce
1/4 cup fresh orange juice (about 1 orange)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt

18 Bibb lettuce leaves (about 2 heads)
2 cups sliced peeled pear (about 2 pears)
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 cup (1/8-inch-thick) slices red onion, separated into rings
1/3 cup (2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

To prepare the vinaigrette, place the first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl; stir well with a whisk.
To prepare the salad, divide the lettuce leaves evenly among 6 salad plates. Toss pear with 2 tablespoons orange juice. Divide pear and onion evenly among leaves. Top each serving with about 1 tablespoon cheese and 1 teaspoon walnuts. Drizzle each serving with about 2 1/2 tablespoons vinaigrette.

Puttanesca Sauce (from Cooking Light Magazine)

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 2 teaspoons dried basil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup chopped pitted green olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon capers
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Heat oil in a saucepan or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in wine and next 6 ingredients (wine through tomatoes), and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, uncovered, about 15 minutes. Stir in olives and remaining ingredients; cook until thoroughly heated.


Post a Comment

<< Home