I love to entertain! From the planning of the menus, to designing the table settings and decorations to matching the wine to the various courses – the entire process brings me much joy. The greatest gift for me is bringing good friends together and sharing an evening together with tasty food, delicious wine and fun conversation. Once I have a date on the calendar, my creative spirit goes into high gear.
Last night was such a gathering. My dear friends Melissa and Rich along with Pam and Tom joined hubby and I for a special dinner party at our house. Time flies by way too quickly; we had not seen Melissa and Rich for a bit, however, when I opened the front door, it was like no time had passed. That is the beauty of good friendships – the time gap closes immediately. It was a double treat to see Pam and Tom two weekends in a row. Smile.
Me, Melissa and Pam
A moment of remembrance. It is weighing heavy on my mind and I would be remiss not to take a moment to reflect on the tragedy in
that occurred on Friday. My thoughts and
prayers go out to the family and friends of the victims. Incidents like this remind us how valuable
each and every day is, along with cherishing our loved ones. Not having children of
my own, but an Auntie to four wonderful nephews, this hits me hard to imagine
what these folks are going through. It is a time to send many prayers and positive thoughts and support to those impacted families.
It was extra special to have long time great friends over to share an evening together. With our house all decorated for the holidays, it is one of my favorite times of the year to entertain and spend time with friends. I wanted to make the evening extraordinary by sharing classic dishes that are worth repeating over and over again and proven winners. I selected some special wines to share with our friends and to pair with the various courses.
We began with a glass of J Vineyards & Winery 1999Vintage Brut with a few frozen blueberries added for a bit of pizzazz. This delightful wine has tiny elegant bubbles with a bright pear and citrus notes. I never want my guests to go hungry; I tend to make enough food for a small army. Along with our sparkling wine, we noshed on Shaved Brussels Sprouts withTruffle and Parmesan and Brie Cups with Grape Salsa. (recipe coming soon) With the bright flavors and effervescence of sparkling wine, the pairing was perfect.
We advanced to the dining room to begin with the Crab Cakes with Srirachi Aioli and a glass of Laurent Reverdy 2009 Sancerre. It is from Trader Joe's and very reasonable at $13 to $14 per bottle. The dry crispness of the wine was perfect with the rich crab cake. Having a small starter or amuse bouche is a terrific method to share with your guests the tone of the evening and give a treat to their palates. Next on the menu was the Zucchini Soup with Gruyere Croutons. I decided to pair this with a Pinot Noir from Breggo which sits in the
. This wine displayed intense aromas of black
cherry along with undertones of earth and sage, along with a supple mouth feel
and delightful finish. Anderson
Now it was time for the Grand Dame of the evening – The AsianBraised Shortribs with Orange Hoisin Sauce on top of Sour Cream and GarlicMashed Potatoes. This is hubby’s absolute favorite dish that I make and always a top notch winner at my dinner parties. Tonight was no exception. To honor this dish and our good friends we shared a very special wine – Lancaster Estates 2005 Estate Bottled Nicole’s from
This Alexander Valley Bordeaux style wine is a
combination of Sauvignon Cabernet and Merlot. From the tasting notes on the Lancaster
website, this wine exhibits a ripe raspberry jam, black cherry and chocolate characteristics
along with hints of plum, clove and lavender.
All I can say, this wine certainly has the “wow factor”. We also enjoyed the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
since we were all in love with the Lancaster
With full bellies, there was still a bit of room for a bite or two of something sweet. When planning the menu, I originally was going to make an espresso and chocolate bread pudding with salted caramel sauce, but decided to put that on hold for an event I am hosting in January. My food bloggerlunch and cookie swap that I attended on Thursday provided me the perfect dessert – a lovely cookie platter full of tasty treats.
All in all, a memorable evening full of great friends, tasty wines and delicious food was had by all. Cheers!
Zucchini Soup with Gruyere Croutons
Serves 6 to 8
Serves 6 to 8
1 large White Onion, small dice
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
10 Cups Zucchini, diced (about 10 zucchini)
6 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Curry Powder
In a large stock pot, add the diced onion and olive oil and cook over medium heat, until onions are translucent. Add the 1 tablespoon of curry powder to the onion mixture and cook for 5 minutes. Add the diced zucchini and mix well and cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Next add the chicken stock and cook on medium heat for about an hour until the zucchini is super soft.
Use an emulsion blender to puree the soup. Add the teaspoon of curry powder and cook for another 10 minutes.
Slice the desired amount of sour dough baguettes in ¼ inch thick slices. Toast lightly on both sides under a broiler. Add a small slice of gruyere cheese to each toasted slice and place under the broiler until bubbly. Remove and let cool. Serve on top of each bowl of soup along with a few sliced green onions or chives for garnish.