I was not compensated in any way for this post. All opinions expressed are mine. Or of my guests.
We are trying to get back into entertaining and having friends over for an intimate dinner party—with kids. The Hubby and I take turns inviting friends over. He’s in charge of the wine and beer and I’m in charge of the dinner party menu. Last weekend, friends of ours and their two boys trekked over from Brooklyn for some good food and laughs. Below is the dinner party menu that I (thankfully) came from the September Issue of Food Network Magazine.
Since I have a subscription to Food Network Magazine, it is always my source for inspiration. I always head to their “Weekend Cooking” section, and if the menu seems easy, ingredient list short, then I’ve got a winner. This month, I was drooling over the Spanish Supper menu which had Grilled Swordfish, Potato-Chorizo Salad, a Spanish Cheese Plate with Grape Tapenade, and a Gazpacho with Cilantro Oil (I decided to skip this one). I added a Lemon-Herb Orzo which was featured in their “Weeknight Cooking Easy Sides” section. Below are the recipes that I used, with some of my editorial comments with an * and italics.
Appetizer: Spanish Cheese Plate with Grape Tapenade
Ingredients: Chop up 1 cup finely chopped grapes, 2 tablespoons of chopped toasted marcona almonds [*note, I did not toast them, and they turned out DELICIOUS], 1 tablespoon minced shallots, the juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 teaspoon honey. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes, and give it a good mix before serving. Serve with Mahon and Manchego cheeses with sliced baguette.
Just a warning: double the recipe. This was so good, and it went so fast. I should have made more.
Protein: Swordfish. This is the only part of the meal that I did not photograph, because as soon as it was cooked, we sat down to eating! Next time!
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Juice of 1/2 orange
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar *I didn’t have sherry vinegar, but I had sherry cooking wine and this worked fine.
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, chopped *I used a knife; I think a mortar and pestle would work better.
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6 6-to-8-ounce skin-on swordfish steaks (about 1/2 inch thick)
Vegetable oil, for brushing
Prepare the fish: Whisk the garlic, olive oil, orange juice, vinegar, honey, thyme, cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl. Add the fish and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour. Preheat a grill to high; brush the grates lightly with vegetable oil. Place the swordfish on the grill and brush with some of the marinade from the bowl. Grill until marked on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Flip and continue grilling until just cooked through, about 4 more minutes. Divide among plates and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with the potato salad.
Side Dish: Potato-Chorizo Salad
1 1/2 pounds small red-skinned potatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, chopped *Again, I used a knife. I think a mortar and pestle would be better.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces dried chorizo, diced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar *And I used sherry cooking wine. And it turned out fine.
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley and/or chives
3 stalks celery (with leaves), sliced
1/4 cup piquillo peppers, sliced *I didn’t have these on hand, so I skipped this.
Freshly ground pepper
*Make sure to slice the potatoes first, then put the potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water; season with salt. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-high heat until tender, about 20 minutes; drain. Toast the cumin seeds in a medium skillet over medium heat, about1 minute; transfer to a large bowl. Add the olive oil and chorizo to the skillet and cook until the chorizo just begins to sizzle, about 3 minutes. Remove the chorizo with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Remove the skillet from the heat; reserve the drippings.
Add the vinegar and herbs to the bowl with the cumin, then whisk in the chorizo drippings. Add the celery, piquillo peppers, potatoes and chorizo; toss. Season with salt and pepper.
Side Dish: Lemon-Herb Orzo
Cook 1 1/2 cups of orzo according to package direction. Reserve at least 1/4 of the cooking water and then drain. Toss with 3 tablespoons butter, chopped chives, dill and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
I let the orzo and potato salad sit for about an 45 minutes so it was room temperature and the flavors got to co-mingle.
In hindsight, instead of making the Lemon-Herb Orzo, which was another starch. I should’ve made a vegetable salad instead. As I looked through the magazine after-the-fact, I saw a Tomato and Snowpea Salad which would have brightened up the plate. Oh well. Bottom line is that our guests went back for seconds for all the dishes — and they stayed until way past pajama time for the kids, which means a successful dinner party, indeed!