“dinner party”

What do you get when you put together a new charcoal grill you are dying to try out, some beautiful New York Strip Steaks fresh from a shoot, a garden full of lettuces, spinach & sorrel that are growing with wild abandon with all this rain we have been having and a couple of bottles of chilled wine? An impromptu dinner party!

It’s always such fun to pick the first crispy tender garden greens. I always taste as I pick.

Romaine, Oak Leaf, Sorrel, Spinach, Red Leaf
Rinsed & dried in salad spinner and ready to be composed.
White Spring Asparagus.
Composed Salad? Not the usual for me, but all these colors & textures seemed to call out for something a bit Retro. Greens with Tomatoes, Steamed & Chilled White Asparagus & English Cucumbers. It was served with a Creamy Vinaigrette with a bit of Pomegranate Vinegar added.

Steaks on the grill? I marinated them in a bit of soy, freshly ground black pepper, sea salt and a squeeze of fresh orange juice. We hardly ever eat steaks so I was a bit stymied on what to serve with them…it seemed with the Composed Salad and the Steaks on the Grill that we were definitely having a somewhat classic retro-type dinner so I decided to make one of my all-time favorites, Twice Baked Potatoes.  I threw caution to the wind and added to the potatoes after they were baked for the first time, softened Irish Butter, Full-Fat Yogurt, a splash of Whipping Cream, a splash of Whole Milk, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper along with a handful of shredded White Cheddar cheese. At this point it was full-steam ahead, don’t look back, the yearly pull-out-all-the-stops fattening dinner!

Steaks marinating.
We had one absolutely no-red-meat diner, so fresh Tuna it was.
New grill is working great.
Rare & Medium Rare.
Potatoes first baked. Ready to be stuffed.
Stuffed & topped with more White Cheddar!

I used 6 bakers. I baked them in a 400 degree oven until they were soft. Removed from oven & using a sharp knife I cut off tops of each one. I used a spoon to scrap cooked potato into a mixing bowl to which I had already added about 1/4 lb softened unsalted Irish Butter, 1/2 cup Full Fat Yogurt, 1/2 cup Whipping Cream, 1/4 cup Whole Milk, 1/2 cup shredded White Cheddar Cheese and freshly ground black pepper & sea salt to taste. I mashed the hot potatoes with a fork blending other ingredients, creating mashed potatoes. I refilled potato jackets topping each with additional shredded White Cheddar. At this point I set them aside on top of the stove covered with plastic wrap. About 1/2 hour before guests arrived I turned the oven to 350 degrees and baked them for the 2nd time for 30 minutes until golden brown and puffy.

Before our guests arrived and earlier in the day we had to “make a dining area in our house with no dining room” as rain was once again impending. We have to do this whenever we have a dinner party or any kind of gathering. It is somewhat like folks who live in small New York apartments who have to re-arrange everything to entertain. We have gotten very good at this here in our little urban home in Nashville. We have tables  that fold up when not in use, nice fold-up chairs that get stored in the closet when not in use as well as a number of other entertaining “tricks” for our small space.

Instant dining space!

Instant dining room close-up! Seats 6 very comfortably.

The salad was ready and in the fridge staying chilled. The salad dressing made. The potatoes in the oven getting twice baked. While the grilling was going on we sat outside and had drinks and pre-dinner snacks.

Herb Goat cheese from Nashville Farmer's Market, Pistachios & Almonds.

At the table, candles are lit, wine is ready to be poured, food is served and the rowdy conversation begins….The Nashville Flood of 2010, newest appointment to the Supreme Court, Neighborhood Associations, work – of course, newest finds at the Farmer’s Market, the weather – of course, shopping – of course, working with flood victims (we all know a few folks who have lost so much), much laughter, I-Pod on shuffle in the background which lead to a few music conversations and a toast or two.

...and more butter for our baguette!

And then there was dessert...and cafe au lait....

….and how did so few people use so many dishes?

Bon Apetit

5 thoughts on ““dinner party”

  1. Is that a zebra cake I see??? If so, please tell me where you found the chocolate wafers. Tim’s never had it and it’s been years since I made one.

    1. Hey Sheila, yes….my daughter Whitney made it for our “retro dinner” the other night…it was so great…I had seen it for years on the wafer box but rather pooh-poohed it, but for fun she made it and it was delicious..she used real whipped cream, not cool-whip and added some Nutella (hazelnut-chocolate spread). All these things she found at Publix in Belle Meade. The wafers are pretty much at most groceries…T

  2. I always like those impromptu dinners, fire up the brand new grill, do everything what she tell you to do, have a beer and a fantastic meal and than your stepdaughter brings a marvelous dessert what else can you wish for on a rainy saturday.

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