Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Menu

Photo by Johnny Autry, www.cookinglight.com
Greek Lamb Meatballs
Assorted Relish Platter
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Green Salad with Pomegranate-Cumin Vinaigrette
Spiced Lentils with Poached Eggs
Roasted Carrots
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Carrot Cakes with Candied Carrots and Pistachios
Vanilla Ice Cream
Local Mexican Coffee

I am not one to toot my own horn. But last night...this menu...was awesome. We hosted the Iraqi Chargé d'affaires (acting Ambassador) to Mexico and other friends, and I have to say (with some help that was key), I pulled it off, and the guests really enjoyed it. I have none of my own pictures because I was in the moment. Let me know if you try it.

"Make-Ahead" Tips for your dinner party:
  • I mixed and formed meatballs well in advance and kept them in the fridge, then baked them instead of frying.  Throwing them in a 400 degree oven for 15 min (with 2 more min under the broiler for crispness) before guests arrived was much easier than messy frying.
  • Make the vinaigrette first before anything else, leaving out the mint. Prep your mint, wrap in a wet paper towel and store in a baggy in the fridge with the dressing so it's ready to add at the last minute.
  • Lentils can be made in advance and reheated. I made a double batch so I used a Dutch oven for the onions/tomatoes/spices, added cooked lentils, then reheated them in the same pot over low heat with just a little added chicken stock (or you could use veg stock).
  • Eggs can be pre-poached too! Poach them in vinegar water for just two minutes (a little longer if whites aren't quite set), then move directly to an ice bath. Store in the fridge until dinner time. Reheat in nearly-simmering, salty water for just one minute before serving. They come out perfect.
  • Cut and seasoned carrots with olive oil, salt and pepper early on so they were ready to toss in a 450 degree oven 20 min before dinner time.
  • Made the carrot cakes the night before. Prepped carrot strips early in the day and stored in the fridge...the syrup and candied carrots were easy to pull off during hors d'oeuvres (not a lot of active cooking required) or just before guests arrive.
Good luck!