Two dinner parties, two nights in a row…I am exhausted, and very full from good food and good company. I love cooking for friends and I love a good dinner party. Saturday was filled with former co-workers from my not-so-awesome job teaching preschool and running an after school program. I’ve written a little bit about that rough period of time. (If you are curious: “Endings” https://littlerantsfromthebigcity.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/endings/
“All Work and No Play (Or Writing)”
“Be Careful What You Wish For”
https://littlerantsfromthebigcity.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/be-careful-what-you-wish-for/) While none of us who gathered around the table are particularly fond of the time we spent at that workplace, we are grateful that we walked out of a bad situation with a group of new friends. Sunday was filled with an entirely different group of friends, what started as a casual dinner invite grew into a beautiful gathering. I do not have a large kitchen (this is NYC, even if I now live in Brooklyn) and I do not have a dishwasher, so dinners that exceed four people can be a bit of a challenge, and, I admit, sometimes ruffle my feathers. Nonetheless, sharing good food and wine amidst good company never fails to make me very content.
Some things I love to serve at dinner parties that are easy to whip and please every time:
Pesto, especially in summer when fresh basil is abundant, makes any pasta dish special.
Lately I have bee using this recipe as I have had vegan and dairy sensitive dinners:
2 ½ cups packed basil leaves
½ cup walnuts (or pine nuts)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ cup olive oil
juice from half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
I like to toss this with fresh pasta (I buy this, I’m not that fancy) mixed with ribboned summer squash. Serve garnished with extra basil leaves, chopped heirloom tomatoes, and whatever nut you used in the pesto.
I am obsessed with kale salad right now. The kale is fresh and bountiful at the farmers’ markets and it is tasty. You can find my go-to recipe here: http://theleetleleetlebaker.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/kale-salad/ (Red onion is also a great addition.) Kale chips and olives are fun, easy, delicious hors d’oeuvres. Simply massage olive oil into torn up kale pieces, arrange on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and nutritional yeast, bake for 10-15 minutes at 300°, and viola.
For dessert ideas, head on over to The Leetle Leetle Baker (http://theleetleleetlebaker.wordpress.com).
And, let’s not forget the wine. If you have a Trader Joe’s wine shop near you they carry some inexpensive wines that please almost everyone. I am also a fan of asking your guests to bring a bottle of wine; it broadens your horizons and cuts back on the number of errands and places you have to go in preparation.