June 1, 2015
At Home with Friends

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Out-Of-Town Company Dinner

Vera’s college friend Tzveta was coming from New York for a visit. We had spent a lovely evening sharing a great meal with her at ABC Kitchen in NYC during the recent blizzard that hit the East Coast.

I had never met Tzveta before that night in New York. I didn’t know what to expect, but in walked in a tall beautiful woman who much to my joy liked food and ate with gusto.

It’s always a pleasure to cook for people who celebrate the pleasure of food. When I heard that she was coming to Los Angeles for a visit, I knew I wanted to prepare a meal so we could sit in the kitchen and relax and catch up.

Of course, as it so often happens in life, the week she arrived turned out to be crazy busy so I didn’t have a lot of time to think about the menu or prep.

Fortunately, I had been playing around with a Chocolate Prune Cardamom Cookie recipe, so there were fresh cookies in the freezer. I knew that my Crinkled Pears would be the perfect compliment to these exotic spicy cookies and they are easily done the night before.

I had seen some gorgeous orange and red beets and perfect asparagus at the market, so I had the idea for a Roasted Vegetable Salad. I also knew I could roast the beets the night before the dinner while I was making the house company ready.

The menu began to come together based on the freshest seasonal ingredients and unexpected time limitations.

The afternoon of the dinner, I went to my local fish market (Bristol Farms) and saw they had beautiful fresh wild salmon and halibut. I texted Vera to ask Tzveta which she preferred and she replied, “Halibut, please!” So that was the main course.

After buying the fish, I perused the market and found fresh burrata cheese, fresh figs, a still warm baguette, perfect cauliflower. So you can see how the menu came together.

I roasted the beets and baked the pears the night before. The Crostini with Gorgonzola and Figs were a last minute addition that took about 5 minutes. I baked the risotto and roasted the asparagus and cauliflower all at the same time.

The Halibut and Homemade Tomato Sauce was actually prepared just before serving while enjoying wine with my guest.

This is a sophisticated menu full of flavor but easy to prepare. Use any or all of these recipes to create a meal worthy of out-of-town company.


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