“I am not a glutton. I am an explorer of food.” Erma Bombeck
Greetings, friends! It has been quite some time since I have written a blog post…a little over two weeks to be exact! Between busy call nights, a couple of illnesses & filing taxes…finally & ugh at the same time…I have been going in a few different directions & not blogging about easy entertaining menus, which is what I love to do most! I do hope, though, that you have been following my recipe publications for this post on Twitter (@EntertainEasily), Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/entertaineasily), Instagram (entertainingiseasy), Google+ (plus.google.com/+LisaNewsome/posts) Facebook & Flicker. As I publish recipes for an upcoming blog post, everything is posted on Social Media, as well as on Entertaining is Easy’s home page, for your convenience…I hope you will check everything out & let me know what you think?
So, onto this week’s menu…A Colorful Multicultural Dinner Party Menu! This Menu came about a few weeks ago when I did the usual “Friday Night Thing” in the Newsome Household…I invited a bunch of friends to dinner. That is what I like to do best on Friday nights, especially when everyone is so busy, as it gives us all a chance to catch-up & reconnect…which, to me, is the point of entertaining in the first place. Friday nights are a great time to throw a casual dinner party…just serve easy appetizers, a make-ahead main course & dessert, & you are set to relax & have fun!
The Wednesday before the dinner party, I went to the Farmers’ Market…I really prefer to cook local fare & seasonally…seasonal produce tastes better & I love an abundance of color when cooking…color attracts us & makes us curious about each course…color provides a bit of a feast for the senses, if you will…& since there was an abundance of eggplant, tomatoes, peppers & green beans, I thought the various colors would be beautiful. Bert found beautiful berries at Costco, & he couldn’t resist…even though berries technically aren’t in season, I thought, “It doesn’t matter…who doesn’t love fresh berries…& look at all this color!”
Now…what to make? With tomatoes only available for a few more weeks, I decided that Cold Asian Tomato Noodles, an adaption from Cold Tomato Noodles in the China Moon Cookbook, would be a perfect use of the beautiful red cherry heirloom tomatoes I bought. I also had never served this asian pasta dish to this group of friends, & I really wanted them, some who had lived in Asia, to try the noodles. The noodles are amazing! Whether served as a main vegetarian course, or as a side dish with a protein, the noodles are so flavorful…with hints of garlic & ginger…& Hot Orange Chili Oil, also from the China Moon Cookbook…you will be hooked & want to serve the noodles again & again, promise! What is also great about the noodles is that this is a make-ahead dish…actually, everything in this menu is “make-ahead”!
With the Cold Asian Tomato Noodles, I decided to serve Asian chicken skewers…Grilled Chili Lemon Chicken Skewers. Bert really prefers chicken thighs to chicken breasts, so I bought skinless, boneless chicken thighs…trimmed & cut the thighs into chunks, then marinated the chicken pieces in a lemon-brown sugar-hot pepper marinade. Another pantry staple from the China Moon Cookbook is Hot Garlic Chili Oil, which I made, then used in the marinade. The garlic & crushed red pepper flakes, known as “Goop”, are also added to the marinade. You can easily make the skewers ahead of time & grill them last-minute. The skewers were so full of flavor…I could not keep my grill chefs, Bert & Jim, away from them!
With the noodles & chicken skewers, I decided to add green beans. I do not know anyone who doesn’t like green beans. Since I had a bottle of ginger dressing, I thought an Asian green bean salad..Lemon Ginger Green Bean Salad…would be a delicious pairing. I zested & juiced a Meyer lemon, minced garlic, & simmered both with sesame oil & the ginger dressing, which was poured over the blanched beans. The beans were tossed in black & white sesame seeds, then refrigerated until ready to serve.
I couldn’t quite decide what to do with the eggplant, peppers & remaining tomatoes. I had made earlier in the week Homemade Lemon Ricotta Cheese, & I really wanted to use the cheese as part of the appetizer/starter course. Asian & ricotta together did not sound at all appealing. What about changing direction & creating more of a Mediterranean appetizer course? Why not mix up cultures & flavors in one menu? I am a big fan “self-serve” appetizers, as I can never quite guess how many specific pieces I will need, so it makes more sense to me to serve appetizers that guests can create themselves…
…as in Spicy Moroccan Eggplant with Mint, Hot & Sweet Roasted Pepper Topping, & Heirloom Cherry Tomato & Basil Topping…all were served with the ricotta cheese & lavash crackers in my Pavilion Crudites Server by Oscar de la Renta. What I love about all three appetizer toppings is the simplicity in flavor of each. The flavor of the main ingredient…whether tomatoes, eggplant or peppers…stands out prominently & is enhanced by the other ingredients in each appetizer. Again, all can be made ahead…yippee! What I like best about these toppings is that all three can be used in a variety of ways, whether as a topping for meats & fish, mixed with pasta, or simply served with crusty bread.
Now…onto dessert. Being a bit of a Francophile, I thought it would be fun to serve a French dessert…especially since Émilie’s French teacher was coming to dinner! Puff pastry is one of my faves to use for a dinner party…it always looks so fancy, but it’s so easy to use! Millefeuille avec Fruits is probably one of the fanciest, yet easiest desserts to serve! Simply cut a sheet of defrosted puff pastry into squares, sprinkle with King Arthur Flour Sparkling White Sugar, bake…then fill with sweetened whipped cream & berries. Voilà…dessert is served!
So, Happy Monday! Why not invite some friends to dinner this Friday…try this Multicultural Dinner Party Menu & let me know what you think? I love receiving comments from my readers. The menu items are listed below…simply click on each to see the recipe pages, along with photographic instruction for each step…
Remember this about entertaining, whether for friends, family, or both…
Cheers & have a great week!
A Multicultural Dinner Party Menu
August 7, 2015
July 30, 2015
July 20, 2015
July 12, 2015