Do you find you spend more time in the Kitchen while guests are over, than actually sitting with your guests? I often do!
I’m constantly trying to figure out perfect menus where I can pre-prep 95% of the meal, and simply finish off and serve once guests start arriving, so I can be sitting, relaxing, sitting and enjoying wine while they’re seated.
The other night came pretty close with a beautiful Mushroom Risotto – which paired perfectly with a recently made Peking Duck stock – and simple Duck Confit.
I LOVE plating dinners for guests, and probably do it about half the time. I get to use more pretty plates this way – LOL – and it leaves the entire center of the table for pretty things like candles and clippings of Boxwood from the front yard. The Boxwood is handy since half my family is allergic to fresh flowers, it needs to be trimmed anyhow, and it seems to go with any seasons’ setting!
Kale Caesar Salad w Toasted Panko + Poached Quail Eggs
Kale is our go-to for Caesar Salad, which we have ALL.THE.TIME. in our house. It’s STURDY and can stand for an hour or so on the counter, even dressed, without wilting too much which is perfect for dinner parties.
We keep toasted Panko on hand all the time – it’s a quick grab to sprinkle on anything you want to add a slight CRUNCH too.
Quail Eggs are my NEMESIS, but I’m determined to eventually master them! They’re fussy to open, but once you do the yolk to white ratio is perfect for poaching. They can be emptied into a shallow bowl of vinegar until you need them, then empty the entire bowl of vinegar and eggs into boiling water for 1m20s and – DONE! I’ll post the exact instructions soon.
Peking Duck Stock Mushroom Risotto w Grilled Chanterelles + Truffle Oil
Since I was serving Duck Confit as the Main Course, the Peking Duck stock from our “Stock Up” day was perfect. Risotto can be pre-made up to 95% cook and the final add-ins, then re-heated quickly for service.
Add some high-heat grilled torn Chanterelles with parsely (this way the parsley isn’t raw to the tooth as when it’s typically sprinkled on at plating – add it just as the Chanterelles are finishing), and once plated, a drizzle of Truffle Oil. Voila!
Duck Confit w Garlic Confit Cauliflower Puree + Green Beans
Ok, so the main course was a bit of a cheat. We buy an AMAZING Duck Confit locally and I keep batches of it in the freezer to add to anything from Mac + Cheese to a lunch salad. Cook at 450d for 20min and it’s gorgeous, crispy-skinned and done. Guests feel spoiled, and it’s ALWAYS delicious, so win-win!
Cauliflower puree is a big dinner party go-to, since it can be completely made before hand and re-heated in the moment. Be careful – it can spit during re-heat… Ouch. I also keep Garlic Confit on hand at all times – it’s beautiful just on toast, or added to just about any dish you want a SLIGHT garlic flavor from.
French Butter Cake w Okanagan Peach Slices + Grand Marnier Whip
I have an old recipe from some magazine or other, at least 12 years ago, for this Breton Butter Cake that we’ve probably made about 1,000 times now. We love it, and it pairs SO incredibly well with the 70lbs of Peaches I buy every August from the Okanagan, and can for just these occasions. THIS recipe by the Baking Wizard comes pretty close.
It can be pre-made entirely, and sitting in the fridge until dinner service starts. Once we sit to the first course, I pop it in the oven for 50mins and it’s done and still warm in time for dessert!
All in all, I think this particular dinner party was a success and I actually got to enjoy some conversation! But it wasn’t just the menu, I confess – Boo and Tt were SO helpful with some of the finishing, plating and serving that I was more free to enjoy.
Sidenote, I owe my boys $20 each Haha.
One guest brought Tt his first Aquaponics tank and we can’t wait to try it! Aquaponics uses fish “poopy” water to feed plants without the use of any soil, then filters the water back into the fish. It’s a circular system and can be used large scale to breed your own edible fish and grow an entire garden from them, so we’ll see how far he takes it LOL, but for now – time to get some goldfish and Kale seeds!
What do you think? Easy peasy?!
photos by myself + Juan Leal