Well, I couldn’t let Friday expire without a nice drink, could I?
Also, my salon challenge party, which I did, in fact, have only a bit over my own deadline. If anyone else out there took the challenge, tell us about it!
The party over here was, all in all, a success. The food was good and not too late out of the oven, conversation flowed, and everyone around the table lived up to their jobs of being sparkly and beautiful in the candle light. I also had a pretty fantastic time, due, I think, to my lucky choice of guests. The menu went something like this:
To start, preserved lemon martinis, which we’ll talk more about in a moment. Roasted feta with thyme honey. Olives. Bread for the feta.
Then, roasted asparagus with harissa mayonnaise. Succeeded in convincing people to use their hands.
After that, kabocha squash and cauliflower roasted in coconut milk stacked willy nilly on some version of these quinoa cakes, preserved lemons added. All with chickpeas in coconut milk dumped over top.
Then, my favorite. This salad, exactly, salt remembered. Brilliant. I’ve thought about it every day since. I need to buy more dates. Made ricotta for this one, too.
And in the end? Sliced oranges. Baklava. Spiced tea.
All vegetarian, which was my own challenge for myself. And I found myself realizing a few things that I think I hadn’t before about this dinner party affair. Moments that maybe, perhaps, you knew long ago, but I’ll get them down here anyway.
My issue when I throw these parties is that I am an extraordinarily inefficient cook. I ended up at dinner once at a hip restaurant with a woman who was the girlfriend of a man who was the friend of someone else, and she told me that although she did something entirely unrelated to food in her life, she had gone to culinary school in Ireland.
“It was good for me,” she told me. “I really know how to throw a good dinner party. I’m excellent at timing.”
I could use some of that. Because when it comes to doing ahead and creating a meal for 14 people that I don’t have to cook every bit of right then and there in that moment, I’m lacking. I’m not always sure what will stay happily warm in the oven, or how to prep things so that I can plate everyone’s third course in just a few minutes. I’m getting better- I think, as I got several comments on how calm I was, and how easily it all came out. But calm as I may look, I’m in a sweaty panic, and I never know how or where the food will find it’s way to the plate.
And so, with that in mind, and as I made it through another party with far few disasters than could have been, a few thoughts on efficiency when it comes to the dinner party:
1. Everything that you think can be done ahead of time probably can. Do it. Then make sure that your kitchen (including your fridge) is organized enough that you can track down all of your pre-prepped ingredients. Create systems on the counter.
2. Most warm food can be kept at a good temperature in a 200 degree oven, covered in foil.
3. Use sauces. They can instantly remedy a food that is too dry, too cold, too anything.And while you’re at it, read this. Sauce on a well-thought out plate will usually be a win for you.
4. Thirty minutes before your guests are supposed to arrive, stop. Take off your pajamas and that apron you’ve been wearing all day. Make sure that the space is exactly as you want it to be when your guests come in- candles lit, table set, you dressed. When all that is set, you can go back to cooking if there is more to do. But first, pour yourself a drink if you haven’t already.
5. Have one cocktail that you serve as people arrive, and set up a little station to make it easily. If it can be put into a pitcher–even better. But make it strong. Then everyone will be rosy cheeked and happy, and as long as you put something in front of them to eat, they’ll be thankful.
Preserved Lemon Martini (or, as I like to call it, The Dirty Lemon)
I can’t make any promises, but I will try to make this the last of the preserved lemon posts. I know there have been lots, but way back when I did promise you a cocktail, and this is it. Salty, dirty, strong, and wonderful–I’d like to think I’ve kept my word, and then some.
Cheers, and Bon Weekend.
2 ounces vodka
2 ounces dry vermouth
1 ounce preserved lemon brine
2 slivers preserved lemon rind
Combine the vodka, vermouth, and lemon brine with a hefty amount of ice in a cocktail shaker (or the eternally useful mason jar). Shake, shake, shake.
Put a sliver of lemon rind in the bottom of two martini glasses. Divide the vodka mixture between the two glasses.
Michael Schneider says
> “And while you’re at it, read this.”
Ha. At just about the very moment I was thinking, “Wow, this person really knows what she’s talking about”, she drops the nugget that she worked at Per Se.
want. that. drink.
Thought n#4 is the one that has saved me more then once!
My mother always said “make it look like you’re ready”.
I’m glad you had a nice evening!
Oh, looks so good! You need a Pinterest button at the bottom of your posts 🙂
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Jayme Henderson says
I found this recipe via the Preserved Life. I am super excited to find a unique way to use my recently preserved lemons. This sounds amazing! I am always down for a cocktail recipe that incorporates whatever I’m preserving! Cheers!
Please, please keep the preserved lemon posts coming!
Will do! Did you see my latest one last month?
Jorge Lopez Canales says
Was much like drinking sea water, I tipped it out.