We're having an interactive dinner party next Tuesday night, and by "interactive" I mean that I've wrangled some innocent guests into doing my cooking for me, while I snack on hors d'oeuvres (I am too lazy to look that spelling up. Close enough. Don't get picky on me around here.) and crack a whip and cackle.
This is what I'm thinking for the menu...
App: Pesto Parm Palmiers like Ina's, except simplified a bit
Protein: I think chicken en croute would be good because it seems fancy but is really pretty easy, and we can get an assembly line going. Person 1 can season; person 2 can smear pesto; person 3 can sprinkle parm; person 4 can wrap the chicken in the puff pastry. I like teamwork in the kitchen. I also like an effective system. Yeah for efficiency and cooperation!
Starch: One of the explicit goals of the party is to share a few cooking ideas, too. I think herb mashed potatoes are a good, basic side that I'm sure nearly everyone has in their repertoire. Plus, I get to flash some of my homegrown herbs.
I also think mashed potatoes are one of those dishes that men seem to love, and our main demographic group for the par-tay are young, newly marrieds, so this is a recipe of how to please your new husband in one pot. There is absolutely nothing fancy about it, but carbohydrate + butter = comfort food. It also lends itself to several easily delegated steps, so it supports my goal of teamwork and involvement.
Veg: I wanted to keep it simple, so I'm just sticking with a salad. Call me crazy, but I just think salad is chic and bistro and casual and not too studied or fussy. It's like the vegetable version of the messy bun.
Image from this random site
In our fashionable little salad, we'll have mixed greens, crisp fennel, and cashews.
(I picked cashews one time when I was living in Honduras. Let me set the scene... I went on what we'll call a road trip to an eco-lodge with another girl from the States who also lived in Tela, working with Doctors without Borders. Much to what I'm sure was my mother's relief, we did not hitchhike to La Ceiba but instead took the chicken bus.
Can you see why hitchhiking was so appealing? While at the eco-lodge, we hiked through the jungle with a guide to swim at the base of a waterfall in the national park in La Ceiba, and I also showcased my talent for sweating like a man. The lodge itself was not luxurious, but they did make a really great dinner for us every next and served cool beverages to everyone as we sat around and talked on the back patio of the main building. One afternoon, the proprietor asked us if we wanted to help pick cashews, so we did, separating the nut from the fruit. I'm a little fuzzy on the details now, but I think we tasted a few immediately, but normally they would be dried before eating.
This is what they looked like. This image is from the Camping Boipeba website, which I definitely think you should go peruse even if you're not interested in camping in Brazil.)
Dessert: I'm still a little stuck on that key lime pie I mentioned a few weeks ago, and none of these guests were at the get together where I served it before. Plus, that thing is easy (as pie... what? too on the nose?) and easily done way ahead of time.
Favors: Maybe it's overkill, but I figured if we're playing with puff pastry anyway, we might as well make a few sweet palmiers for everyone to take home with them, too. Why not?