I’ve been consumed by food thoughts as of late on account of a big dinner party I’m cooking for on Saturday. Through Mr.YemenEm’s job, I met this glamorous lady who has written for Vogue for years and years. She is hosting a dinner party for 25 of Mr.YemenEm’s colleagues in her Park Avenue apartment on Saturday and asked me to be the “head chef.” (We chatted about my love of cooking previously). I’m a tad intimidated since this woman has written restaurant reviews all over New York City. And also, because I’m not a chef. So I really want to make food that is not just good, but, like, really, really good.
It’s less than a week away, so I took advantage of a day in my friend’s well-stocked Boston kitchen yesterday to try out some dishes. I informed my testers I wanted their honest opinions and told them they’d have to force rank three bruschettas, two soups, and give me their opinion on a winter stuffed squash.
Round 1: Bruschettas. In contention were a squash, ricotta, and fried sage bruschetta; a pistachio pesto , ricotta, and roasted tomato bruschetta; and a caramelized onion and gorgonzola bruschetta. All were drizzled with some balsamic glaze I made and infused with thyme. My astute testers recommended I replace the ricotta in the squash bruschetta for a cheese with more of a tang and that I mix some orange juice and zest into the squash. The sharper cheese did improve on this dish; the orange did not. In all, the two winners were the pesto and the caramelized onion. I think I’ll go with the pesto. It’s delicious, a tad more interesting than traditional basil pine nut pesto, and it looks very festive.
Round 2: Soup. In contention were a Waldorf salad inspired soup, and a sweet potato bourbon soup with buttery croutons. I’d been thinking about trying to using the flavor components of a Waldorf salad and seeing if it would work as a soup for a while. Literally, three months. And it was yummy.The base is potato, leek, and celery, and I topped the beautiful green soup with celery leaves, very thinly sliced grapes, matchstick Granny Smith apples, walnuts, and a tiny drizzle of cream and walnut oil. Both soups were delish, but my testers voted the Waldorf soup as the winner of the evening. (Plus, it’s a great named soup to serve in the Big Apple, imo).
Round 3: Entree. No competition here. I just wanted to know if the dish was worthy of being the main vegetarian dish. It was very, very good. I added sage to the recipe and a little more nutmeg and the result was creamy and autumnal and cozy. And if it’s cozy, then you know I love it.
Anyways, I feel pretty good about Saturday. Should be an exciting night.
Also, I’m just getting over a cold, which is good news, because it means I likely won’t be sick next week. Which means there’s less danger of me being patient zero for a flu epidemic, which is what happened when I made a 20-person dinner back in the fall of 2007 in Washington DC.
Wish me luck!