Sunday, July 30, 2017

Alfresco Dinner Party

Mr. Romance and I have always enjoyed entertaining Alfresco style. My favorite thing is to come up with a menu, pare it with good wine and good friends and sit outside enjoying a lovely summer night.
I came up with the menu and then started building the guest list, which included dear friends and family.

I bought a simple bouquet from the grocery store, added the green hydrangeas from the garden and some basil flowers, put it all in a basket and it became the perfect centerpiece. Not much more was needed since the backyard was used as the main focal point.

It was a coincidence that the water glasses matched the flowers.

Large dinner plates and mismatched salad bowls created a casual look to a long, dining area.

We started with appetizers and aperitifs inside, because it was still too warm to be outside in the hot sun. These cheese plates are some of my favorite specialty plates that I own. 

Our "signature cocktail" for the evening was a Negroni. This delicious, Italian inspired cocktail, couldn't be easier to make and it is so good.

for each serving use:
1 oz. Gin
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. Vermouth Rosso
Mix and pour over an ice ball. Garnish with a twist of orange peel.
I made a small pitcher of these drinks ahead of time and then poured them as needed when the guests arrived.

It was nice to be able to serve some of our garden tomatoes and basil in the Caprese salad. Our garden has not been the best this year but it has still produced more tomatoes than we can eat. 

These are some of the wines we enjoyed with dinner and dessert.

Luckily my sister made a few photos because once everyone arrived I forgot to make any photographic memories.

Great conversation was enjoyed throughout the evening.

My re-creation of a dessert we had fifteen years ago in Northern California turned out just like the original. It consisted of Humbolt Fog goat cheese, Sage honey with honeycomb, pistachios, candied pecans and Raincoat crisps with cranberry and hazelnuts. The cheese combined with figs was the last course, after the Molten Lava cakes, ice cream and whipped cream. 
Molten Lava cakes are so easy to make and everyone likes them.

Molten Lava Cake
makes 4 servings
4-4 ounce ramekins
4 oz. good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped
4 oz. butter, plus more for buttering the ramekins
2 large eggs and 2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons flour, plus more for dusting the ramekins

Melt butter. Add chopped chocolate and stir until melted.
Crack the eggs into a bowl, add the egg yolks and sugar. Whisk until light and thick, about 1 minute. Add egg mixture and the 2 teaspoons flour to the melted butter and chocolate mixture. Beat until combined.
Butter and lightly flour the ramekins, taking care not to miss any spots. Tap out the extra flour.
Divide the batter evenly into the ramekins. (At this point you can refrigerate them for up to three hours; bring them back to room temperature before baking.)
When ready to bake preheat the oven to 450'F. Put the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until the cakes have puffed up slightly and can still jiggle when shaken, about 7-9 minutes (better to under bake than over bake). Let sit for 1 minute.
To serve, carefully put a plate on top of each ramekin and invert the cake onto the plate. Let sit for a few seconds before removing the mold. Serve immediately, sprinkled with powdered sugar, accompanied by a scoop of ice cream and a dollop of whipped cream.

Thanks to my sister for snapping this photo, so Paul and I could both be in it. 

I'm not going to lie, entertaining is a lot of work. Paul worked for three days getting the yard in tip top shape and I shopped in no fewer than 6 grocery stores and specialty markets, cooked and prepped for three days, and did dishes for 2 hours the day after the party (hand washing 35 glasses!). This was all in addition to our granddaughter and her friend helping us the night of the party with last minute cooking, serving, clearing of dishes and washing dishes...all while keeping Martha Stewart Labradoodle happily entertained.

It's all worth it to spend time with great people on a warm summer night.


Leah said...

Sure it was a lot of work, but look at the rewards! Looks wonderful and I'm sure the evening was well worth the effort.

Debbie said...

Looks like a wonderful evening! Thanks for sharing about it...

Dianne Neale said...

You make it all sound so easy, until the reality part at the bottom. I would just go into melt down!!!

Geri said...

I am blessed to have my sister Diane and my brother in marriage Paul as family. This was such a beautiful evening and one of the best meals I've ever eaten. My husband Paul is still talking about those lamb chops. The amount of work and love that goes into everything you do is mind boggling.

Robby said...

These sorts of events are a lot of work, but they really make special memories and make the guests feel cherished. It all looks and sounds fantastic.