Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dinner Party

Saturday night, Lash and I hosted two couples over for dinner, and we had the best time.  It was so relaxed, low key, and a night of great fellowship with friends.

I set the table with our everyday china and accented with Lowcountry inspired oyster candleholders and votives.  {By the way, you can kind of see our West Elm curtains I blogged about here, but never posted a picture of.  I am obsessed!  They completely make the room.}

The below piece is off of our kitchen in a little nook where I set up a little bar area.  I picked up that gorgeous orchid from Lowe's earlier this week.  I do not have the slightest green thumb, but it is so beautiful, I really don't want to kill it!!

As I was thinking over menu ideas, I knew I wanted to make sure that the food would be delicious but also could be made beforehand.  I think the best part of dinner parties is visiting and spending time with guests ... not slaving away all evening in the kitchen trying to impress with your culinary repertoire.

This meal was perfect for entertaining.  Everything was made earlier afternoon and the last minute details could be assembled quickly.  The gumbo was warm, hearty, and flavorful.  Some cornbread can be dry and tasteless, but this one from At Blanchard's Table stays moist and deliciously rich from the Monterrey Jack cheese and creamed corn, and has a touch of sweetness from the crushed pineapple.  The slaw was added a nice light textural contrast and crunch.  It all went together beautifully and tasted great.

As Ina Garten says, "At the end of the day, everyone just wants a simple, delicious meal and a good conversation with friends."  We had so much fun!

Seafood Gumbo

1/3 cup cooking oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose floor
4 cups chicken broth
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 pound cooked lump crabmeat (optional)
1/2 pound fresh or frozen okra
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 pound smoked sausage, sliced
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 cups steamed long grain white rice

  • Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat and saute onions and red bell pepper until tender.  Add garlic and reduce heat to low. Stir in flour and cook 5 minutes or until flour turns slightly brown.
  • Stir in chicken broth slowly.  Add tomatoes and next nine ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, coverage, and simmer one hour.
  • Boil sausage in second pan and then drain. Add warm sauce to gumbo.
  • Stir in shrimp and simmer five minutes or until shrimp are pink and cooked through. (Or you can saute the shrimp in another pan and pour them in)
  • Mound rice in soup bowls.  Ladle gumbo over rice and serve.
Yields: 8 servings.

Caribbean Corn Bread

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup corn meal
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup canned cream style corn
1/2 c crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup of shredded monterrey jack cheese
  • Preheat over to 325' and prepare a 9" pan with pam.
  • Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
  • In a mixer, cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after eat addition.  
  • Add creamed corn, pineapple and monterrey jack cheese, then add dry ingredients on a low speed, and pour into prepared pan.
  • Bake approximately one hour (check with a toothpick at about 45 mins).  Let cool before slicing.
Yields: 12 servings.

Asian Slaw

1/2 cup cooking oil
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 chicken seasoning from ramen noodles
1 bag coleslaw
1/2 bunch green onions, sliced
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 package ramen noodles, chicken flavored, crushed and toasted
  • Combine first four ingredients for dressing, mixing well.
  • Assemble slaw, toss with dressing- best if lets sits for a few minutes before serving.
Yields: approx 6 servings.

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