Here’s a quick and dirty guide for throwing a party together when time and money are limited. We’ve culled together a couple of our favorite recipes, drink ideas, and party planning tips to help keep the merry in your merrymaking.
Posts Tagged ‘Syrah’
Serves a crowd.
1 15 ounce can cannellini beans
2 tablespoons truffle oil
This appetizer was prepared with Chardonnay in mind. We enjoyed it with the buttery O Wines Chardonnay. My friend Bean also found this dip with fennel to be the ultimate pairing with Columbia Winery David Lake Syrah.
Food and wine bring people together. Here is a perfect example. It was barely a year ago that Bean, Vivian, Ed, and I met through the Northwest Wine Academy. Shortly after that, we began getting together for food and wine pairing experiments. Since last summer, we have become fixtures at each other’s tables. Now, we are celebrating birthdays together. Just as we did last Saturday for my husband Roger’s birthday.
Menu planning for this event could not have been easier for me. These three folks who have known my husband for less than a year were able to get him to reveal the favorite at home dishes he’d like to eat on this occasion. I find that impressive. When I ask what he wants for dinner, I don’t get any specifics. Not even a hint.
- Spinach Salad with Candied Bacon prepared by Ed paired with Walter Dacon 2008 Roussanne
- Costco Ribs, as requested by the hubby, contributed by Vivian and Ed paired with Sheridan Vineyard 2005 Syrah
- Risotto and Roasted Veggies prepared by the Missus and
- Smoked salmon, smoked tomatoes, smoked mushrooms, and “Seattle Slugs” prepared by Bean paired with Mount Baker Vineyards 1994 Cabernet Sauvignon
- Tiramisu paired with Moscato d’Asti
I love that these friends of ours took such great joy in soliciting a menu from my husband. Then they went on to plan, purchase, transport, prepare, and contribute food and wine to a dinner to celebrate the most important person in my life. It was a wonderful evening that we will always treasure.
So, are you feeling inspired to invite friends to your table to share food and wine? I bet it will be a night you won’t soon forget.
It’s easy enough to pick up some ribs from Costco! Unless, of course, you don’t have a membership. As Vivian learned from this experience, however, chances are we all know someone who does.
The risotto is prepared by tweaking my recipe, Risotto for Wine Lovers. Simply substitute 1/4 cup of pesto for the garlic cloves, and use beef stock rather than chicken.
Tiramisu has long been one of Roger’s favorite desserts. I learned to make a traditional version from Iole Aguero. She provides authentic Italian recipes and teaches with passion. Classes with Iole can often be found in Seattle at the PCC Natural Markets and Blue Ribbon Cooking School. It’s great to have Tiramisu in your party repertoire, because it needs to be assembled the night before.
At Roger’s request, we opened a bottle of the Walter Dacon 2008 Roussanne this evening. It is his favorite white wine. We are grateful that Vivian was willing to transport this back from the winery in Shelton for us!
Not being a rib eater, I turned to Bean and Vivian for a suggested variety to pair with the hubby’s eagerly anticipated meat fest. Taking their advice into account, we opened a Sheridan Vineyard 2005 Syrah to go with the ribs. Only they can tell you how the two paired. However, I can tell you this Yakima Valley Syrah is terrific with roasted leeks. Vivian somehow managed to save a splash of the Roussanne for her ribs, and said the two were delicious together.
Since we enjoy experimenting with food and wine pairings, we also opened a bottle of Thurston Wolfe 2006 Petite Syrah. This turned out to be Roger’s favorite red wine of the evening.
Continuing on in the spirit of experimentation, a bottle of Rex Hill 2005 Jacob-Hart Vineyard Pinot Noir made its way onto the table. After all, Pinot and portabellos are a classic pairing. This Oregon wine offers bright cherries on the nose and palate.
The Mount Baker Vineyards 1994 Cabernet Sauvignon was a recent purchase of ours. We bought a magnum of this wine during a recent visit to the tasting room after Roger learned that the winery still had this vintage available. Back in 1999, he had brought a bottle of this Washington Cabernet Sauvignon to a dinner party I hosted, and the wine still haunted him! The wine has aged remarkably well, and it was wonderful with the risotto. Then we tried it with roasted tomatoes and, discovered a match made in Heaven!
We always seem to have a bottle of Moscato d’Asti in the fridge. Serve it with Tiramisu and you have a classic pairing.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to open as many wines as we did to have as much fun. Experimenting with wine and food pairing just makes it more interesting!
Gathering around the table with friends is absolutely one of my favorite things to do. Part of what makes it a joy is that I am very fortunate to have friends who like to bring their own dishes to share. Great anticipation builds while we wait to see what food will make its way onto our table. This weekend, Roger and I had the pleasure of hosting Julie and Ken.
We selected an Italian theme for our dinner. This encouraged me to serve something incorporating the fresh ricotta made from my home cheese making experiment. So, what to do with that cheese? Make Baked Rigatoni with Fresh Ricotta. Delicious!
- Bruschetta with Roasted Garlic, and Roasted Pepper and Artichoke Tapenade
- Melon Wrapped in Prosciutto with Arugula
- Baked Rigatoni with Fresh Ricotta
- Tarragon Chicken
- Chocolate Truffles
Here is one of my secrets. I don’t always make everything from scratch. I aspire to. However, when preparing multiple courses, I often find it best to make a couple of dishes of my own. Then, the menu gets rounded out with food made from scratch by local purveyors. This way, I don’t get stressed and our guests are able to eat at a reasonable time. For example, the tapenade served on this occasion came from my local PCC Natural Market. The Smoked Tomato Sauce for the rigatoni came from Cucina Fresca based in Pike Place Market. The fresh pasta from La Mondellina, a small shop in Magnolia.
Whenever possible, I choose recipes for a dinner party that can be prepared ahead of time, and need only be put on the table or in the oven when guests arrive. Both the Baked Penne and the Tarragon Chicken can be assembled in advance, then wait in the fridge until it comes time to put them in the oven. So, before guests arrive, it’s important to be sure the oven is preheated.
A prepared appetizer plate is also ready and waiting for our guests’ arrival. I recommend always having food and beverages ready to offer your guests right away. Don’t offer them drinks until some food is ready. I mean it! Why? I’ve been to that party where everyone got drunk at the start of the evening. Drunk and hungry. Hungry and….let’s say, less polite than usual.
On this evening, I breathed a sigh of relief as our guests enhanced our menu with Melon Wrapped in Prosciutto and chocolate truffles from Oh! Chocolate.
The Time Table
Up to one week in advance make the fresh ricotta.
Up to 2 days in advance boil the fresh penne until just al dente, and assemble the pasta dish with the ricotta. It can be tightly sealed and refrigerated until ready to bake.
Up to 1 night in advance begin marinating the chicken.
The afternoon of the dinner finish any prep work for the pasta and chicken dishes. Refrigerate them until time to bake.
One hour before guests are scheduled to arrive plate the appetizers.
Fifteen minutes before guests arrive, preheat the oven to 375°.
When guests arrive, serve the appetizers.
Upon completion of appetizers, place the pasta dish in the oven. Set the timer for 30 minutes.
Serve the melon and prosciutto.
Take the pasta out of the oven when ready.
Remove plastic from the chicken dish and put it in the oven.
Serve the pasta at the table.
Serve the chicken when ready.
The opening wine for the appetizer platter and melon was Boomtown Pinot Gris. This light, crisp wine paired very well with the variety of foods.
Our friends brought a bottle of Epicuro Salice Salentino Riserva. This red wine offers plum on the palate and a nice, velvety finish. It is a food friendly wine that doesn’t overpower. We enjoyed it with the pasta. In the spirit of experimentation, we also tasted it with the chicken, which brought out nice smokey notes in the wine.
Syrah is our favorite variety to pair with the Tarragon Chicken. So, we left Italy momentarily, returning to the Northwest for a Nefarious Cellars 2006 Estate Syrah. As always, a terrific pairing.
Our thanks to our guests for joining us at our table.
This is one of my favorite go-to recipes for entertaining because the dish can be assembled ahead of time and popped into the oven when guests arrive. I’ve adapted this from “The Healthy Gourmet Cookbook,” a treasured gift I received years ago that has been used so frequently that it looks like it will fall apart if anyone so much as looks at it.
Serves 4 as an entree, or up to 8 if served as part of a multicourse meal.
Oil, for greasing casserole
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup pitted Greek olives
4 potatoes (I favor fingerlings, but use any potato other than russetts), cut into 1½” cubes
1 head fennel, cut lengthwise into eighths
Preheat the oven to 375°. Oil a casserole dish. Then, place the chicken in a single layer in the casserole dish and top with the sliced garlic, olive oil, tarragon or other herbs, and vinegar. Place the olives, potatoes, and fennel around the chicken. Cover the dish with foil, and put it in the oven for approximately 50 minutes or until potatoes are tender and chicken juices run clear when a knife is inserted. I like to serve this dish family style.
I love to break the traditional guidelines, and pair red wine with chicken! The tarragon, balsamic vinegar, and olives help this dish pair with a Syrah. I recently served this to a group of friends while we were tasting some of the lovely Syrahs produced by Walter Dacon Wines, and the chicken was not overpowered by the wine at all. Give it a tray.
Alternatively, substitute a teaspoon of Herbs de Provence for the tarragon, call it, “Chicken Provencal” and pair it with a Bordeaux blend.
What to do with leftover taco filling? Throw in a few more ingredients and you’ve transformed those leftovers into a completely different meal! I’ve adapted this recipe from The New Basics Cookbook. Serves 4.
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- 1/4 cup catsup
- 1 – 15 ounce can roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 cup leftover seasoned ground turkey
- 1 – 15 ounce can black, pinto, or kidney beans
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 hamburger buns, ciabatta rolls, or slices of rustic bread of your choice
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and bell pepper and cook until translucent. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the turkey meat is reheated. Meanwhile, toast the bread. Spoon the meat mixture over the bread, and serve.
The previous night’s ground turkey mixture gets seasoned with a spice rub that includes coriander, thyme, cayenne, garlic, chili powder, smoked paprika, and black pepper. You could also use prepackaged taco seasoning.
We don’t play by the traditional rules that say red wine calls for red meat! A nice Washington Syrah with a balance of spice and fruit is a good option with this dish. We tried it with Gamache Vintners Syrah.