On a recent trip home, my slightly battered self-esteem was given a nice little boost as I spent time with my parents friends. I love coming home and spent a season here not too long ago working in New York, and many of them remember my cooking skills as being superb. It was quite the topic of conversation at both New Year’s Eve and another dinner at this amazing Greek restaurant a few days later. (Thanks, guys!)
The main point of reference was a pretty substantial dinner party for about 8 people during the end of my NYC project in which I made one recipe from a blog online and another of my own creation. I learned a lot by this dinner party (one time I made a huge plate of short ribs to be served family-style to a bunch of very, very old men and realized later that a) Omg there was so much prune/prune juice in it and they might poop themselves in the middle of the night and b) these guys can’t lift the serving platter to pass it around…awkward) so I was pretty set up for success. I planned the menu, made a grocery list and cleared the kitchen to execute the meal from prep to plating on the large counter in the kitchen and serving our guests seated in the dining room.
The first course was roasted acorn squash with sauteed kale, poached egg topped with small cubes of pecorino romano. Sounded great when I was researching with the tiny caveat that while I love poached eggs, I’d never made them for myself or two people, let alone a party of eight. Hmmm.
So, I went to my favorite blog, Smitten Kitchen, for help. The blog advocated for a splash of vinegar and a whirlpool method. Simple enough? Sure, why not. I gave it a whirl (tee hee) and both my mom and I had poached eggs for breakfast. Success!! Except how do I get 8 of them at the same time while managing the main course and plating the squash and kale while still hot? HMmmm. Fortunately, Smitten Kitchen came to the rescue again with something snarky like “If you happen to be crazy enough to be reading a blog post about how to poach an egg and intend to make several for a party…” (yes, do go on…) And explained that you could cook them just under and place them on a paper towel to and then reheat them briefly just before serving. Woohoo! I’m game.
The entree was my own creation, a swordfish stew, which involved seared cubes of swordfish, a spicy tomato sauce and then spicy toasted chickpeas as a topping served over quinoa. Of course one of the diners was vegetarian so before I added the fish, I separated some of the sauce to do a potato rendition (because I’m cool like that).
Everything seemed pretty good to go. But then one of the neighbors asked if it was okay if their son comes. Cue the scene in Clueless when Cher gives a speech in Mr. Hall’s class about the Hatians (read: Hate-ians) and an RSVP sit down dinner… yadda yadda yaddda… “but it’s like ‘the more the merrier!'” and I figured out a slight adjustment for portions and onward and upward!
But seriously, everyone stay the fuck out of my kitchen because I’m in focus mode and there can be absolutely zero questions asked in my direction. Just assume that yes, if my wine is looking empty, I would LOVE some more. (You’re the best, mom!)
As the beginning of the post might suggest, this all went magically. Woohoo! Okay, one egg was a little over but that one went to me because in reality, I’d eaten my share of eggs that day practicing anyway.
Also, apparently I made quite the impression on the across the street neighbor’s son because he apparently mentioned that he was quite taken by me. Too bad I’m ten year’s his senior and live in another state. It would be nice to have a boy crush on me and like it when I cook dinner.
The other couple offered to bring a traditional dessert from (ahh I am the worst I can’t remember what country they are from but I’m going to guess India) and that was great because it took me off the hook for the finale. But amid requests for a repeat, we will have to host again soon.
No pressure for next time or anything…