Last night we had a dinner party for six that was meant to be a much bigger party. Last week we sent out emails to the 12 guys that my husband plays golf with on a regular basis. We were punished for our very short notice as half of the people were either hosting out of town guests or were out of town themselves. Three were attending a bridge party (bridge is very big around here) and another was at a wedding. Our four friends who could come were long-time and very dear friends, and one just happened to be celebrating a birthday. She likes champagne, I like champagne, we thought it was a good idea to pop open a bottle of expensive champagne. I never think that's a bad idea!
There were highlights and lowlights during the evening. The highlights were: the weather was lovely and we sat outside for before-dinner drinks and after-dinner coffee; the vegetable tian is now officially my all-time favorite party dish for it's ease, beauty and taste (see it below); my house looked beautiful dressed in green; and lastly, Nigella cracks me up. As sophisticated as she is, she never minds some low-browish shortcuts. For an appetizer, I made her potato pancakes made with processed potato flakes, which I didn't even know they sold anymore, I remember them being a gluey mess. But they do sell them, and the recipe was good! You make them in advance then top with smoked salmon before serving. My addition was to add a dollop of sour cream spiked with horseradish. I'll be making them again.
The lowlight was the main course! I made a new-to-me chicken dish that looked better on paper then it actually was. Something with almonds, rosemary and lemon zest. Meh, it won't ever appear in my recipe rotation again. To start we served an old fashioned wedge salad with homemade Roquefort dressing and bacon and finished with a fresh ollalieberry sorbet and Bob's GF brownies from this mix. I love that gluten free baking mixes, pastas and breads are so much higher quality these days, and so easy to find!
For the pretty side dish, I use Ina Garten's Vegetable Tian recipe for the most part. I make this often in the summer, and each time it's similar, but changes with what's growing or what's on hand. Everything was from the garden except the potatoes and cilantro, which I didn't end up using anyway. After slicing the vegetables, sprinkle with salt, then start layering in a dish. It calls for a sliced onion that I didn't have so I sprinkled on some chopped green scallions that I did have. I think Ina has you layer the veggies a different way, but I think the arrangment below is prettiest. Douse with a few tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with fresh thyme, salt and pepper and cover with foil and bake in a hot oven for about an hour. When tender, sprinkle with grated gruyère cheese, perhaps a cup, and bake uncovered until melted and browned, another 15 minutes or so. It's really popular and perfect for this time of year.
I'm having another party next week, this time for my knitting group. We will have more people as I actually gave them two weeks notice, not just one! I'll be serving the vegetable tian again, but don't know what else. Maybe I can get my husband to bar-be-que as I'm planning to eat outdoors.
I hope you are having a great summer.