Years ago, I had clipped an article from the now defunct Domino magazine detailing how to throw a weeknight dinner party. Last night, I finally decided to use the menu from the article for a small dinner party we were having. Granted, it was a weekend night, but it worked out for the best as I was a little short on time yesterday with a few other commitments we had during the day. The article has a full timeline of how Nathan Turner goes from work at 5:00 pm to dinner on the table by 8:00 pm. I find some of the details a little far-fetched considering he does not have any groceries, wine, or flowers when he gets out of work, and still finds time to buy all this, re-arrange the flowers into a more aesthetically pleasing look, set the table, and oh yeah, prep and cook all the food. However, it is a fairly simple menu to pull together for guests and I was pleased with the results.
Appetizers: Mixed olives, a cheese plate featuring 1 hard, 1 soft, and 1 semisoft cheese (I went with a brie, a Danish blue cheese, and an Irish cheddar), roasted red peppers, crackers, and 5-minute artisan bread
Dinner: Pesto-Crusted Rack of Lamb (recipe below), Potato and Leek Mini Gratins, and Roasted Tomato & Mixed Greens Salad
Dessert: Strawberry Rhubarb Slab Pie – This was not on the original menu from the article, but I saw it in a recent cooking magazine and thought it looked really good (and it was!) Stop back later this week on Fresh Produce Tuesday for the recipe…we are featuring Rhubarb recipes this week.
- 2 racks of lamb, frenched and cut into individual chops
- ½ cup pesto (you can buy store-bought or make your own)
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- cooking spray
- Before the dinner party, spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Brush a small amount of pesto on each individual lamb chop. Pour the bread crumbs in a bowl and roll each chop in the bread crumbs. Cover with aluminum foil and put in the fridge.
- About 10 minutes before dinner, turn the broiler on high. Cook the chops under the broiler until a nice crust forms (about 4 minutes a side).
For the potato and leek mini gratins, just cut the white part of 2 leeks and 4-5 small, peeled potatoes into thin slices. Pour a small amount of olive oil in each cup of a muffin tray and add a small amount of shredded gruyere cheese. Add a layer of potato, then a layer of leeks, and more gruyere cheese. Repeat these 3 ingredients until the cups are full. Pour 2-3 tablespoons milk over each mini gratin. Cover with foil and place in fridge until ready to make. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, removing the foil halfway through.
To make the roasted tomato and mixed green salad, start by putting 1 pound of cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. On a separate baking sheet, roast 1/4 cup of pine nuts for a few minutes until lightly toasted. Once tomatoes are done, take the juices from the tomatoes and pour into a small bowl to make the dressing. Put the tomatoes aside to cool. Add 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar, 3 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil, and a pinch of sugar and salt to the tomato juices in the bowl. Whisk together. Place mixed greens in a large salad bowl. Right before dinner is served, add the roasted tomatoes, pine nuts, feta cheese, and dressing and mix the salad together.
Source: Adapted from Domino magazine, October 2008
What do you like to serve for an easy dinner party?