This past weekend I had the pleasure of hosting a small dinner party with my closest friends here in DC. My best friend from college returned once again to the city from whence she came (her returns are much like the arrival of a favorite celebrity to us few who constantly lament her absence).
In honor of this event and to have the opportunity to cook for a couple of my other close friends, I embarked on an afternoon-long kitchen adventure. Let me say up front that in my haste to put everything together (and my lack of practice at this blogging thing) I forgot to take pictures of anything as I went along. I promise to do better in future. The menu was as follows:
- Caesar Salad
- Fettuccine Alfredo
- Grilled Salmon with Lemon and Dill
- Grilled Portobellos Marinated in Red Pepper Worcestershire Sauce
- Garlic Sauteed Spinach
|My favorite: Fettuccine Alfredo. I'm already craving it again.|
Not having the capacity (yet) to work miracles, I took a half day off of work in order to have enough time to actually complete the meal in time for the arrival of my guests. Fortunately I had completed my grocery shopping for the basics the night before and only needed to pick up the things that you just can't get a day in advance (namely the baguette and the fresh eggs for the caesar and tiramisu). I also had the additional foresight to have picked up savoiardi (lady fingers) from our local italian grocer the previous week when I stopped off for fresh pizza dough. As a result I had time to hit the gym and then dive into putting together my tiramisu. I'm including the recipe below because after several attempts at other recipes I decided to just try the one on the back of the Bellino Savoiardi package and it was a great success (if you can get past a raw-egg phobia which I highly recommend doing).
After successfully constructing the world's largest Tiramisu (I put it in a large glass baking dish that took up half of a shelf in my refrigerator), I started on the bruschetta. By the time I had the bruschetta completed and the table set I was left with just enough time to shower, put the pasta on to boil, and start a multi-tasking masterpiece of cooking up the salmon and the mushrooms just in time for guests to arrive.
|Steam-grilled Salmon with Lemon and Dill|
- I don't have the luxury of a grill in my apartment building (though I have just purchased a grill pan which I am excited about), so I improvised. By placing a broiler pan top (like a cookie sheet with slats in the bottom) and turning on two of the gas burners I was able to replicate a grill. This works best with dry things like hot dogs or vegetables, but if you want to branch out you can put down some tin foil. For the salmon, I wrapped lemon and dill and salmon filets into tin foil packets and grilled them up right on the burner. For the mushrooms I simply placed them on small tin foil squares to allow the smoke of the flame to work it's way in.
|Portobellos with Mozzarella|
- Mandolin the tomatoes for the Bruschetta. I did 5 plum tomatoes in about 2 minutes. Perfect slices
- I fine-chopped about 7 garlic cloves and put them in a ramequin in advance so I didn't have to do that at the last minute.
- I clean as I go. I cannot overstate the importance of this. Cleaning as you go is the only way to actually enjoy a meal at the end of your labor. Otherwise you finish and walk into a disaster kitchen. When you finish eating you should only have plates to do. Also, make sure you run the dishwasher mid-stride so that you have ROOM for the dishes at the end and don't have to hand-wash them
Needless to say I made about 52 times more food than anyone could possibly consume. I sent a lot home with people and kept a bit for myself but still had more than I knew what to do with-- better too much than too little!
|My apologies for the crooked photo- I was trying to angle the whole thing into the frame... fail.|