Posts Tagged ‘Dinner Parties’

From Dish Deanna:


During the holidays I always find myself over-doing it with food. I look forward to Christmas and New Year celebrations being over because I know that I can start fresh. This year I was so overwhelmed with cookies, cakes, chocolate, and dinners that I thought I was going to explode. I knew it was bad when I started wearing bigger sweaters.  Bigger sweaters made me realize that I needed to immediately start eating smaller portions. Mini Tacos are a great way to control your portion size and can be served in many settings. I find they are easy to make for a simple night in or even if you’re entertaining a group of people.  For this recipe I enlisted the help of my best friend, Jodi!  We had a great time making these.

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2 cooked chicken breasts

Juice of 1 lime

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and pepper, to taste

24 (3-inch) corn tortillas

Shredded cheddar cheese

Shredded lettuce

Hot sauce (optional)

Sour cream (optional)


Yields: 24 mini tacos, but can certainly be cut down if only meant for one or two people

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Start by finely shredding the chicken by hand and place into a medium bowl. Add lime juice, chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Toss the mixture until it is thoroughly combined. Next, shred the lettuce.

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Lay the tortillas out for stuffing! If you can’t find mini tortillas, use a 3 inch round cookie cutter and make cut outs from larger tortillas. Place some cheddar cheese on the bottom, a big pinch of chicken, and some lettuce on the tortilla. Wrap up the tortilla and pierce with a toothpick.

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Right before you serve, stick the tacos in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or so until the tortillas are soft and the cheese is melted.

These mini tacos are so good you’ll want to eat them all!


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From Dish Danielle:


A week before Thanksgiving with no real holiday plans, the bf and I decided to host a little something at my place. We felt the right thing to do was to bring all the turkey day strays together to share a proper feast. The 8-10 person guest list quickly grew to 18… My one requirement: bring a dish to share with the group! This was a holiday potluck, so I honed in on the one dish the hostess would be responsible for: the turkey complete with stuffing.* I ordered a bird from a local farm upstate and was informed she (Florence…yes we named her…), was sacrificed only 4-5 days before our feast! Fresh as a daisy, I had to do right by her. I resolved to use every scrap of pretty Florence that I could, both pre/post roasting.

florence thanksgiving

This meal was honestly the very best Thanksgiving spread I have ever seen/eaten. Everyone’s contributions were absolutely deeeelicious. Although I sent everyone home with piles of left-overs, the bird was far from stripped. I decided to make a soup with the leftover odds & ends.

DISCLAIMER: This recipe is NOT meant to be followed to a tee! Riff on it however you see fit. Hang onto your roasting scraps and see where your soup takes you. This kind of soup can be made all winter long and interpreted in many different ways.  It’s time consuming but fairly hands off, so great to make while you’re having a cozy afternoon at home. What scraps do you having looming in your fridge right now?

soup ingredients


1 bird carcass

3 leeks, rinsed and sliced (tops also rinsed, sliced and set aside)

4 shallots, sliced

1 head of fennel cut into 1” chunks

10 garlic cloves, sliced

2 parsnips

3 carrots

¾ bottle of white wine

1 box veggie stock

3 qts water

3 bay leaves

1 apple, pitted & chopped

1 pear, pitted & chopped

2 apple cores (leftover stuffing scraps)

2 pear cores  (leftover stuffing scraps)

2 stems of sage

1 handful of rough chopped fresh parsley

2 handfuls small potatoes, cut into 2” chunks

1 bunch fresh thyme, pruned and rough chopped

red chili pepper flakes




Start by sautéing leeks, shallots, and fennel in your largest stock pot over med-low heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add parsnips/carrots and cook for 5mins. Add wine and raise heat to simmer. Pour the rest into a wine glass and enjoy. Sip and simmer for 20mins. Add stock, water, and bay leaf. Once you’re back to a simmer add Flor the bird! Arrange so it’s completely submerged. Toss in two pinches red chili flakes. Let it bubble awhile…

cheese cloth

Now, pile the leftover scraps into several small heaps: the apples/pears, the cores, the leek tops, and the sage. Using the cheesecloth, bundle 2-3 small piles up into the cloth and tie with kitchen string. Drop satchels into soup and continue to simmer. Add thyme. Season with S&P. Add potatoes. Soup should be just about done when potatoes are cooked to your liking. Remove from heat and discard cheesecloth bundles. Pull the bird out of the soup and allow to cool on large platter. Tear meat off bones, shred into smaller pieces and toss back into the pot.


Once soup has cooled, skim fat off top.

Garnish with fresh parsley, serve with crusty bread and a glass of apple cider. Enjoy turkey day’s bounty one more time and count the things you’re thankful for. It’s holiday season y’all.

*I hate to admit it but, dish Amelia’s pumpernickel & rye stuffing bested this hostess’s!

Florio final

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From Dish Rachelle:

You know what’s awesome about Thanksgiving food?  We take generally healthy ingredients – poultry, potatoes, carrots, Brussels sprouts, pumpkin, cranberries – and find a way to douse them all in butter, sugar, fat and salt.  It’s indulgent, it’s American, and it’s amazing.  My Mom makes some of the best turkey and stuffing I’ve ever tasted and her cousin always brings a great broccoli and cheese casserole, which is fluffy and rich and makes broccoli taste like junk food.

For this post, I tried to make a side dish that’s decadent enough for a Thanksgiving table, but also might be served at a dinner party year-round.  That meant no frizzled onions and no condensed soup or soup mix (1950s-era staples that I generally avoid but are totally acceptable on holidays).  I call this Broc’n’Cheese because it came out tasting like that all-American pasta classic – but with broccoli.  Perhaps it could be a good alternative to mac for a gluten free guest?

This recipe can be doubled or tripled or gazippled for Turkey Day…


2 large heads broccoli, florets only

2 tblsp. unsalted butter

¼ cup flour

2 cups milk

½ cup grated good-quality extra sharp cheddar

½ cup grated gruyere cheese

pinches of the following spices: nutmeg, garlic powder, paprika & mustard powder

½ cup breadcrumbs


Preheat oven to 350.

Cut and rinse your broccoli florets.  (Reserve the stems for another recipe.)  Steam the florets until bright green and cooked al dente.  Let stand, uncovered, while you prepare the béchamel.


Melt 1½ tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan and add flour, whisking quickly to create a very light roux.  Lower heat to medium and add milk, whisking away the lumps.  This is your béchamel sauce – keep whisking as it gets hotter and thickens, making sure the sides don’t scald.  When it starts bubbling slowly, bring the flame down to low and add dashes of the spices (less than a teaspoon of each) and S&P.  Add cheese and stir until melted and all the spices are combined.

Spread the steamed broccoli out into a baking dish and pour the cheese sauce over it.  Quickly melt the last ½ tablespoon of butter in a small frying pan and add the breadcrumbs.  Toast in butter 1-2 minutes and then pour it evenly over the broccoli and cheese.  Bake the casserole for about 15 minutes or until cheese sauce is bubbling.

Let stand a few minutes and then serve!  You won’t feel guilty about trying three different pies because you ate your broccoli – drenched in cheese, butter and milk, of course.

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From Dish Rachelle:

I’ve found that a dish, no matter how accurate the recipe, never comes out exactly the same way twice. That’s part of the fun of cooking — the element of surprise involved when one tiny substitution, whether it’s the freshness of an ingredient or the mindset of the cook, can make a world of difference. Sometimes I bite into a meal I’ve made a hundred times before and can’t believe how good, and new, it tastes. Unfortunately, sometimes this works in the opposite way, too. A tried and true recipe can still go sideways every once in a while.

Case in point: this Moroccan Chicken. It’s based on a highly rated Epicurious recipe and the first time I made it for a guest we declared it a Keeper. I couldn’t wait to have it again and when we made plans to host Dish Erin and her spicy side, it was the first dish that came to mind. My husband and I shopped for ingredients, dreamed up side dishes, and since I’d been so successful the last time, decided that I would head up the prep. I started, and something didn’t feel quite right. Then I realized I had planned an olive-centric meal for a man who hates olives. It got worse from there.

The Moroccan chicken – which had been so savory and fragrant and balanced the last time – came out BITTER. Our guests were kind enough to chow down anyway (wine helps) but I knew that the dish was imperfect. Here’s what happened: the dish simmers for about 25 minutes, when the chicken cooks through and the flavors come together. I realized, about 20 minutes in, that the flame had been too low and the chicken was barely cooked. It then had to go another 20 some-odd minutes, during which time the lemons started breaking down, releasing the bitter pith into the stew. By the time I realized and removed the lemon rings, it was too late. Gross.

On the bright side, I learned a new rule: never simmer lemons for more than a half hour.

But seriously, make this dish. It’s awesome when it’s awesome. I’ve made it twice now, which allows me to write the recipe exactly how I would prepare it.

Serves 4
4 good-sized chicken thighs, seasoned with S&P
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 lemons, 1 sliced into 8 rounds and 1 juiced
1/4 cup green olives, pitted and sliced (assuming nobody hates them)

Set the lemon juice aside.

Heat a tblsp of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or crock and add chicken thighs, skin down. Cook over medium heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate. Add the sliced onions (and more olive oil if needed) season and saute until translucent. Add spices and garlic and stir until fragrant, about one minute. Add white wine and turn the heat up to cook off the fumes. Deglaze the pan.

Add chicken stock, lemon slices, and the browned chicken back into the pot.

Bring to a boil and the lower heat to a simmer. Cook mostly covered for 20-25 minutes.

When the chicken is cooked through, remove it to a plate again. Add the olives and lemon juice and turn up heat, reducing the sauce for about 5 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper and add chicken back in. Serve with a smile, even if it’s not your finest moment in the kitchen — it’s not the recipe’s fault, I promise!

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Ed.’s note: A big part of Dish Danielle’s culinary life is her supperclub the Whisk & Ladle, which she’s mentioned multiple times on SLD. Today, we’re varying format just a bit to give readers a peak into that world – in video!

From Dish Danielle:

So you may recall a post I wrote last summer — when I was inspired to try my hand at Fried Green Tomatoes after dining at a local supperclub on the southside of Williamsburg. Since then, the duo behind Eat with Neighbor have become much more than their name implies. Last weekend I had the pleasure of not just Eat(ing) With Archie & Emily, (Neighbors), but I got to cook with them, supperclub colla-bo style: Whisk & Ladle met their Neighbors.

The menu we created together was definitely on the high maintenance/time consuming side, with each course composed of many different parts. With a lot of prep work in front of us, Emily & I decided to keep the dessert (somewhat) simple: Meyer Lemon Ricotta Ice Cream paired with Emily’s salty shortbread, drizzled with lavender infused honey.

Then we let the games begin.

(recipe adapted from Pastry Studio)

2½c ricotta cheese
¾-1c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
liberal pinch of kosher salt
zest & juice of 2 meyer lemons
1c heavy cream

Start by plopping the ricotta into a food processor with its metal blade in place. Add the sugar, vanilla, salt, lemon zest & lemon juice. Puree until smooth. Add heavy cream and puree some more. Taste to ensure proper balance of sugar/salt/lemon. The recipe I used also called for a tablespoon of rum, which I omitted–so feel free to get crazy!

You are almost done. I know. So easy.

Allow the mixture to cool completely — pop it into the fridge for an hour or two — then run mixture through an ice cream maker to finish.

Pair with something crumbly and salty. YUM.

And if you’re interested, here’s the menu that came before our dessert course:


Cream of Oyster Mushroom, Parsnip, Pea, Basil, Ricotta
Duck Two Ways, Potato Gratin, Dandelion Greens, Rhubarb
Strawberries, Fennel,
Mustard Vinaigarette,
Fried Strawberry Croutons
Meyer Lemon Ricotta Ice Cream, Shortbreads,
Lavender Honey

This will surely not be the last time I get cookin’ with my Neighbors. Happy Spring!

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From Dish Danielle:

Living in a loft building such as the one I’ve inhabited for the last 6+ years, you kind of get used to having people over…a lot. And with this, you begin to aquire an ever-expanding repertoire of crowd-pleasing recipes that are easy to whip up in moments. I had the pleasure of collaborating on a few spontaneous soirees with my neighbor Yoni in the last few weeks, and man, my kick-ass go-to recipe list grew exponentially. This guy knows how to host family style dinner parties like nobody’s business.

After watching Yoni make this delicious side dish a few weeks back, I decided I’d include it in our most recent Whisk & Ladle dinner menu. I needed to score the recipe deets from him, and quickly learned that he cooks most things by sight or taste memory, as he left me with a list of otherwise unknown Japanese ingredients to pick up, with the ratio of said ingredients to be figured out on my own. ‘A drizzle of this, a squeeze of that…’

Off I went to the Sunrise Market in Manhattan, where I was able to score all the Japanese condiments that make this dish sing.

Ingredients: this should be enough for 10 people as a side dish

2 ½ lbs brussels sprouts, rinsed and trimmed
4 sheets of nori (dried Japanese seaweed)
¼c veggie oil
¼c sesame oil
¼c seasoned soy sauce (I used Ninben brand)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp yuzu paste
1 lime, zested & juiced
agave nectar (honey will also do)
sesame seeds (I used a shaker of white & black found at Sunrise)

You want your oven hot, so preheat to 425 or so.

Slice the brussels sprouts in half and toss into large bowl. With your hands, crumble nori over the sprouts. Drizzle a splash or two of veggie oil and toss contents of bowl to coat sprouts evenly. In a medium bowl mix the oils, soy sauce, minced garlic, yuzu paste, zest & juice of the lime, a small squeeze of agave and a pinch of salt thoroughly with a fork or small whisk. Taste and tweak as you like. This is the most important step! Perhaps a bit more sesame oil or a little more garlic. Your taste buds will let you know.

Pour dressing over the sprouts and mix/massage it in by hand. Finish off with a few liberal shakes of sesame seeds and you’re ready to roast. Now you can let the sprouts do their thing and tend to the rest of your menu, or better yet, your guests!

After 10 minutes give the pan a good shake and let them bake for another 10 minutes. Let them cool only slightly before serving.

Ahem, I think I will be hanging out in the kitchen above mine more often…

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From Dish Gwen:

Can two wrongs make a right? I think so. Crappy red wine + a cheap, undesirable cut of meat can equal an amazing meal if put a little elbow grease into it. This recipe takes a few hours but it’s well worth the time. It’s a dish you can dress up for a fancy occasion or serve to the masses during the Super Bowl. Make it for your family on Sunday or for a big party and either way you’ll have folks licking their fingers and gnawing at the bones to get every last scrap of meat.

– 2 lbs short ribs (one lb per person)
– 1 tbs garlic, minced
– 1 tbs salt
– 1 tbs olive oil
– ½ to a whole bottle of cheap or old red wine
– water
– 2 tbs brown sugar
– 1 tsp cardamom
– 1 tsp red pepper flake

Saute the garlic and olive oil in a large pot (2-3 quarts) on medium/high heat. Once the garlic begins to brown, add the ribs and brown them on all sides. Add the salt, and toss the ribs and garlic for a couple of minutes to build up the amount of brown crispy caramelized goodness in the pot.

Pour in the wine so that the meat is completely covered with liquid (if there isn’t enough wine to cover the meat that’s fine – just add water until the meat is swimming). Bring the liquid to a boil then cover the pot and turn the heat down to low so that it continues to simmer but doesn’t boil over. Allow the brew to simmer like this for an hour and a half to two hours.

Using tongs, pull the ribs out of the pot and place them in a shallow dish in the oven at 250 degrees. This will dry them out and continue to cook and tenderize them. Leave the pot uncovered and continue simmering the wine mixture on the stove, and leave in any bones that come loose from the ribs. Bake the ribs for an hour, and while they bake, cook down the liquid on the stove top to make a thick barbecue sauce. Add the brown sugar, cardamom and red pepper, and stir the mixture with a whisk. Taste the sauce to make sure it’s salty enough (and if it’s not, add salt!).

Take out the ribs every 20 minutes or so to turn them with tongs and brush on the sauce. If you don’t have a food brush you can just spoon on the sauce. After an hour has passed, remove the ribs from the oven and brush them with sauce one last time.

Serve the ribs with greens and a grain, mashed potatoes, or just with some beers, chips and football. I served mine over a bed of couscous and arugula and it was magnificent.

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