First dinner party in the new house. Granted we've been living in the house for almost a year, but clearly there's not been a lot of entertaining. We invited a handful of neighbors, none of whom we know really well. One we know well enough to know that she is a VERY GOOD COOK, who cooks a lot and easily. In fact, we first met her 14 year old daughter when she came over to borrow some Chinese 5 spice for the duck stew she was making. The 14 year old, not the mother.
You can see that the ingredients for a pressure-filled experience were all there. First dinner party, guests you want to make a good impression on, at least one excellent cook in the group. I wanted to make something that was delicious, fool proof and that didn't require lots of last minute tending. Solution? Salmon leek pie, roasted asparagus, butter lettuce salad with grapefruit vinaigrette and lemon meringue cake from Nigella Lawson's Feast. Here's the run down:
Salmon leek pie from Gourmet February 1999. I've had it in my little falling apart book since then and it is pretty darn amazing. Simple to make, bake at the last minute, looks beautiful and tastes fantastic. Serve it at the table so people can see how pretty it is. Skip the sour cream sauce.
Grapefruit vinaigrette – a few weeks ago my sister and I met in New York city and went to a swanky lunch at the café on the top floor of Bergdorf Goodman. I had a seafood salad with a grapefruit vinaigrette that was truly delicious. Tart and acerbic without overpowering the mild flavor of the lettuce. I made a variation of that with 1 part each grapefruit juice and white wine vinegar to 2 parts olive oil. It was good but not as good as Bergdorf's.
Lemon meringue cake – OMG this is a fabulous cake. Not super easy to make, since you have to make lemon curd and then cake and then meringue, but so worth it. I recommend employing a non-cooking inclined partner to stir the curd while slowly adding small chunks of butter. This makes them feel engaged and proud, and gives you one less thing to do. It is light and crunchy and sweet and tart and melts in your mouth. Unbelievable. Really.
My only regret from the evening is that there weren't leftovers. Which is not a bad thing.