The dinner party is back: Backyard style!

30 Jun

I read somewhere that the new *trend* in going out to dinner is staying in for dinner. That’s right, in these recessionary times, the dinner party is back. I for one am thrilled!

Growing up part of a large family, big dinner parties have been instilled in me from a young age. I remember my mom’s famous Lasagna Parties on my grandparents’ porch in eastern Long Island with about 45-50 of our nearest and dearest aunts, uncles and cousins. Kind of a go big or go home entertaining mantra. I love it!

A few weeks ago we hosted a lovely party with some friends, old and new. On the menu was: cheese, honey and water cracker spread, featuring Manchego and Drunken Goat cheese,  smoked salmon wedges, baked onions with Gruyere cheese, truffle French fries and USDA Prime steaks. For dessert we had an amazing raspberry creme tort (Patrick, one of our guest’s made and brought).

Cheese is always my favorite course, which is why I’m never able to save it until the end. Drunken Goat is a nice way to start as it’s subtle enough but still maintains some of those great characteristics of chevre. I’m also in love with adding honey to cheese. Regular ol’ clover honey does wonders.

The smoked salmon wedges were a hit. It’s the hybrid of pizza and your favorite Sunday bagel with cream cheese, capers, onions and lox. A very easy, beautiful and delightful starter.

The baked onions were amazing! They had been baked for hours and they were soft and sweet. A perfect pairing for the sharp Gruyere that was melted on top.

I’m pretty convinced you can add truffle oil, truffle salt or truffle butter to just about anything and it will taste amazing. The truffle fries served during this meal were no exception. I baked regular frozen fries until they were crispy, then I drizzled the truffle oil on top and added some sea salt. If I had thought it through more, I would have also had included some sort of a dipping sauce or aioli, but even with out it, they were great.

The steaks were amazing- my husband grilled them the perfect amount (and I have to say that cooking them on a charcoal grill really does add to their flavor versus a gas grill) and they were simply dressed with some salt and pepper right before throwing them on the fire.

And dessert- I think Patrick said the recipe came from Epicurious.com so I’ll have to track it down and post it for everyone. It was a great marriage of tart raspberry with a creme finish.

It wouldn’t be a dinner party without libations, and boy did this group enjoy the wine! We had amazing bottles that everyone brought over and shared. My husband and I were in Sonoma this spring, so we dipped into our stash and opened a bottle of Unti 2007 Barbara and a bottle of Kokomo’s reserve 2006 Zinfandel . Henry’s Road 2005 Shiraz was the bit hit of the night, but everything tasted great.

So- in a nutshell, that was our first really big dinner party of the season, but certainly not our last.

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