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Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Dinner Party Starters

Tonight I am hosting a dinner party for six. I enjoy the appetizers and the last course the best and spend much of my planning time on these courses. The dish on the upper left comes from The New York Times. I have served it as an appetizer, a first course or once as a meal(with bread and wine of course) on a rainy cold Sunday evening in front of the fire.

I do not have the date of the article but the recipe is credited to Michael Psilakis, one of Food and Wine's Best New Chef's in 2008. He called it Broiled Feta with Roasted Peppers and Olive Salad.
The first step is to make a Garlic Confit made with 2 heads of garlic cloves unpeeled. Bake covered along with olive oil, black peppercorns and bay leaf. When done the olive oil is strained and the cloves of garlic are peeled and placed in the oil.

Roasted bell peppers, thinly sliced onion (I have also used the tiny purple onions), capers, black and green olives, and the garlic Confit are mixed with a little more olive oil, fresh lemon juice and herbs. His recipe called for dill, parsley and or chives, but I use oregano. His recipe also called for anchovies (which you may recall I do not like) so I use a squeeze of anchovy paste.

Small slices of crusty bread or pita wedges are served with it. It goes well with a full bodied red wine.

The second dish is one I out together because the ingredients were handy. I will call it Cucumbers with Salsa. The cucumbers are thinly sliced using a mandolin and topped with Salsa Fresca from West Point Market. The West Point Market Cookbook carries the recipe, but I cannot seem to duplicate what I get at the Market.

The cucumber and salsa give the guests a choice if they prefer a lighter appetizer.

There will be both white and red wines available. The white will be a Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc (recommended by the wine person at the WP Market) and pro-mis-Q-ous, a blend of zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Sirah.

When having guests I always prepare a menu card which is set out for them to read. My thought is that if they don't like the main course they can fill up on appetizers and look forward to the last course, or if they start salivating over the entree they can go light on the appetizers!

Tomorrow I will post the entree and the last course.


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