Category Archive: Entertaining

how to entertain the in-laws

The Mr’s parents were in town last weekend.  While we love our fair city, we are frequently at loss as to how to entertain people when they come visit.  As evidenced by our food and beer blog, for entertainment we pretty much eat out and support our local beer scene.  While that sounds like lots of fun to us, we aren’t ever sure if visitors will enjoy it as much as we do.  Luckily, The Mr’s parents were game.

Should your in-laws come to town in the near future, consider showing them a good time this way…

First, take them to Food Truck Friday in Southend on Friday night.

The Herban Legend

SCQ Truck

Then take them to Good Bottle Co and really show them what they are missing back home despite the recent improvements in Mississippi’s beer laws.

photo

Make them Challah French Toast for brunch on Saturday morning.

photo

Once that has had time to digest, take them to 10 Park Lanes for a little healthy competition.

photo

After working up a thirst at the bowling lanes, take them out to NoDa for some home grown brews.

photo

For Saturday night dinner, you make them some Korean Short Ribs and baked sweet potatoes with Grilled Asparagus & Portobellos with Shallot Soy Dressing…

photo

and you wash it down with Wicked Weed’s Infidel Porter that the hubs brought home from a recent trip to Asheville.

photo

Sunday afternoon, you introduce your mother-in-law to this…

photo

(after having taken her to actual church that morning) only shortly before realizing that you forgot to buy the Bomba rice from Sur La Table before it closed and therefore can’t make the paella you had planned for Sunday dinner.  Instead you order pizza from The Pizza Peel

photo

and show them how YOUR James Bond kicks THEIR James Bond’s butt.

photo

And I think it goes without saying that on Monday, after they’ve left and Sur La Table has opened again, you buy the Bomba rice that you should have bought two days ago, make the enormous pan of Chicken and Sausage Paella anyway, and eat it yourself…

photo

al fresco, of course.  It makes for fantastic leftovers for the next couple of days.

 

newmrssig

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/1173

Tour de Kitchens

Our friend Ashley

is renovating her kitchen.  When I say “renovating” I mean “gutting”… as in knocking walls down, rewiring, moving the appliance locations, new cabinets – the works!  That means she will not have a working kitchen of her own for a least 8 weeks.  She and her roommate, Lauren, devised a brilliant plan to ensure that they won’t have to live off Ramen noodles and take out for two months.  It’s called the Tour de Kitchens.  Here’s how it works:

  1. Ashley and Lauren threw a big cookout for all their friends before the big kitchen demolition.
  2. While at said cookout, all the friends signed up for a schedule of dates to have the two lovely ladies over for dinner – touring the kitchens of their friends and blogging about it along the way.
  3. Ashley and Lauren throw a big dinner party for all these friends once the kitchen is complete.

In a sense, they feed us twice and we feed them once.  Not a bad deal.  And a super fun idea!  I highly recommend it to any of you planning a major kitchen reno in the future.

Well, Sunday was our turn to host.  I love to entertain and always want to leave my guests wanting more.  So, I always try to make my dinner parties memorable.  However, for this particular dinner party the stakes were especially high. Let me explain…

First, Ashley is a foodie.  A serious foodie.  In fact, she’s been writing a blog called The Charlotte Food Snob since 2006.  It chronicles her adventures in eating out in our fair city.  Secondly, she’s in our church community group which takes turns bringing wine and snacks to various events.  Through our years in this group, I’ve developed a reputation for bringing awesome snacks like this and great bottles of wine such as this and this to our gatherings.  Not to toot my own horn, but people tend to get really excited when they know it’s our week to bring snacks.  I mean REALLY excited.

So, I’m hosting The Charlotte Food Snob herself AND I’ve got a reputation to uphold.  That means, I had to bring my A-Game.  Nothing less would do.

I find that there are three basic elements that will make or break your dinner party, not including the guests.  I call them The Three M’s of  a Successful Dinner party – Music, aMbience, and Menu.

First, the Music.  I keep a playlist on my iPod appropriately titled “Dinner Party.”  It’s a list of nearly 70 songs ranging in artists from Coldplay, to The Beatles, to Diana Krall, to Ben Harper, to Dave Matthews Band.  They are all groovy, but unobtrusive so they play nicely in the background without being “noisy” per se.   I hit shuffle so the songs play randomly and repeat so the whole thing starts over again, should we work all the way through the play list.  I usually start playing it over the speakers in the living/dining area about 30 min before my guests arrive to start setting the mood in my head.

Secondly there’s aMbience…Well, you’ve got to set a lovely table

(dig my new chairs?) and lots of candles always help.

Finally, there’s the menu…Like I said, the stakes were high.  So this menu had to be FABULOUS.  It was pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

The Menu
Appetizers – Goat Cheese Crostinis with Blackberry Ginger Balsamic Vinagrette
Salad – Baby Spinach with Goat Cheese, Raspberries, and Toasted Walnuts
in Warm Olive Oil and Blackberry Ginger Balsamic Vinegar

Entree – Salmon with Grits and Caper Cream Sauce and Asparagus a la Plancha
Wine – 2007 Stag’s Leap Cellars Sauvignon Blanc
Dessert – Coffee Caramel Creme Brulee

And, yes, the menu was so fabulous that I printed it up on card stock and placed it at each place setting. Like I said, I had to bring my A-Game.  And speaking of my A-Game, here’s my handiwork up close:

Well, most of it anyway.  I didn’t exactly get any pics of it, but I used an old faithful recipe, Goat Cheese Bruschetta, for the appetizer with a couple minor adjustments.  First, I used small crostini bread v. a large artisan loaf.  This gave them perfect bite-sized proportions.  Secondly, I used Blackberry-Ginger Balsamic Vinegar, rather than plain balsamic, for the vinaigrette.  Like I mentioned before…EPIC!

Next, there was a beautiful salad

The basis was a recipe for Baby Spinach with Warm Olive Oil and Toasted Walnuts that I saved from Martha Stewart Living months ago.  But, I wanted to add a little something extra to it.  Hence, the goat cheese and raspberries.  The recipe calls for white wine vinegar, but…I just happened to have this delicious Blackberry-Ginger Balsamic Vinegar from Mountain Town Olive Oil Co. in Park City.  So why go with white wine vinegar when I’ve got a bottle of that within reach?  Much more interesting!

I have to give a shout out to my colleague, Sam, who gave me a head’s up on the entree recipe from Epicurious.  Ladies and gentlemen, Salmon with Grits and Caper Cream Sauce

Sorry that the pic is kind of dark.  I was ready to dig in and did not have the patience for the subtleties of fine photography.   Nevertheless, it was as delicious and as it was easy to prepare, despite how fancy it sounds. However, in an effort to deliver the courses in a timely manner, I made the grits before our salad course and they weren’t quite as warm as I would have liked, despite keeping them in the “warming zone” of my range.  The grits cooked up very quickly.  Next time, I’ll just let the salad settle while I cook up both the grits AND the salmon.

Oh, I almost forgot about the asparagus.  It’s now one of my staples from my Spain cookbook.  So fresh!  So easy!  So YUMMY! (And it sounds super fancy if you are, I don’t know, say…printing it up on menu cards for your guests.  Just a thought…)  You basically drizzle a little olive oil and fresh lemon juice on some beautiful asparagus, salt & pepper them, then grill them up for 2-3 min on each side.  You can use an actual grill or a grill pan.  I, personally, like to use my Cuisinart Griddler.

Of course, no dinner party is complete without The Wine.  Ashley and Lauren brought a bottle of 2009 La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.


We sipped on that during apps and salads.  Epicurious especially recommended the 2007 Stag’s Leap Cellars Sauvignon Blanc to accompany my chosen entree.

Plus, there was a little bit of it in the Caper Cream Sauce.  It was a perfect pairing.  Needless to say, both bottles were empty before the evening was over.   And for the Piece de Resistance (drum roll please…)

Homemade Caramel Coffee Creme Brulee!

Yes, to make this dish at home did require the purchase of a small blow torch.

What?  There’s a rumor going around that this whole Tour de Kitchens thing is a competition.  So, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.  And if that means buying a blow torch…

then so be it! Seriously, though.  We had a blast hosting these ladies.

To hear their take on the evening, hop on over the The Charlotte Food Snob!  We’re looking forward to seeing how the rest of their Tour pans out.  And if this IS a competition, then I think we might just have this one in the bag! ;)

Cheers, y’all!

Wine Girl

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/734

Dinner with Friends

Last night we had a dinner party! Is it a party if it was just us and one other couple? I certainly think so! We hosted these guys for dinner.

I’ve got to get in a better rhythm with this blogging in real time thing. I got so caught up in the cooking and the conversation that I forgot to take pics of all of us hanging out. So, a pic of Jon and LP from this summer will have to suffice.

LP and I enjoyed a Christmas cocktail first.

(Truth be told, I started sipping on mine while cooking before our distinguished guests arrived.)

Meanwhile, the boys sipped on a little something from Santa’s Private Reserve.

I set a pretty table for the evening.

To go with the pretty table I also planned a pretty menu. Once again I turned to the Barefoot Contessa for inspiration.

The Menu
Salad
Barefoot Contessa’s Lemon Chicken Breasts
Barefoot Contessa’s Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts
Barefoot Contessa’s Haricort Verts e Shallot

Here’s what it all looked like.

And it all tasted even better than it looked! Check out the recipes for the chicken, cousous, and string beans here, here, and here.  Jon & LP supplied the salad and the vino!

After dinner we sipped on a little mulled apple cider

and had our funny bones tickled by a Christmas classic.

What a way to kick off the weekend!

Cheers, y’all!

Wine Girl

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/575