Vinny and I have made new friends since we’ve been blogging. Many of them are great cooks!
When it was our turn to host a dinner party this spring, Vinny thought it would be fun to showcase recipes he’s found on-line. It was such a hard choice seeing as there’s only so much food you can take in on any given evening… and there are so many wonderful dishes to choose from. Thank goodness for Pinterest, where a foodie can save and sort favorite recipes found on the Internet. For this particular evening, Vinny picked the following dishes, based on Mediterranean small plates.
Richard McGary of REM Cooks got Vinny hooked on south-western cuisine, American style. That means experimenting with spicy foods, something new for a family catering to kids. I was blown away by the range of flavors in peppers. Vinny was especially motivated to master these hot and colorful veggies, once he learned how valuable they are in fighting disease and in giving our metabolism a good kick. For this meal we decided to try an ancho chili sauce to flavor our main course dish.
Stefan of Stefan’s Gourmet Blog makes even the most basic things from scratch, expertly. Crackers, fancy pastas, sauces, breads, custards… name it and he can make it. A financial analyst by day, he gets inspired by frequent forays to three-star Michelin restaurants. Italian is his favorite cuisine, but he’ll tackle just about anything. Risotto is his signature dish, which is also a favorite of a certain member of our family. We chose to make a fennel side dish based on one of Stefan’s Italian recipes, as well as a truffle risotto, perfected by the man of our house.
Fruit in light pastry
The pastry confection we served for dessert was inspired by Sebby’s puff pastry for a beef wellington dish we tried recently and loved. Sebby (like Vinny…) has been cooking since he was 12. His blog is a joy to read. However, I caved and bought frozen phyllo pastry for our dessert, rather than tackle a puffed pastry from scratch like Stefan would have. I just didn’t dare mess with perfection. I didn’t even read the ingredient list, in case I got turned off…
The avocado crostini was chosen because I loved all of Gaby’s healthy ingredients – avocado, goat’s cheese, pistachios, and, of course, the spicy sausage.
People don’t like to drink as much as they used to, it seems. No one wants to drink and drive, or they’re watching calories, or they find that alcohol compromises their health in some way, interfering with medication… or whatever. It boils down to a lot less alcohol being consumed during the evening.
So, for our pre-dinner cocktail I went to Mimi’s blog. Chef Mimi posts the most delicious-looking cocktails, among other lovely things. I picked her claret cup recipe because it was a reasonably low-alcohol but high-flavor idea.
In the weeks ahead, I’ll post my versions of some of these recipes and tell you about my adventures in serving them up. Here’s the menu. Let’s get cooking!
Mediterranean small plates
A dinner party inspired by Vinny’s Pinterest recipe collection
Based on Chef Mimi’s claret cup
Avocado prosciutto crostini
Based on a recipe by Gaby
Spanish pork loin with ancho sauce and caramelized onions
Inspired by REM Cooks
Sardinian fennel with Italian sausage and Parmesan (pecorino sardo)
Vinny’s take on one of Stefan’s fennel creations
Tuscan risotto with mushrooms and truffle oil
Vinny’s friend Don’s labor-free version
Savory pear taquitos with lavender honey, chevre and pistachios
Vinny’s recipe, adapted from one demonstrated at our local liquor store
It’s amazing how motivating your Pinterest recipe collection can be. All those images of food beautifully presented inspire you to put your own touches on the food you serve friends and family. Stay tuned over the next several weeks to see how Vinny does it. Cheers!
- Let’s party! Portuguese sangria – Kick the meal off with great cocktail
- Look who’s on first: Avocado crostini – A simple but tasty starter
- The main attraction: Spanish pork loin with ancho sauce and caramelized onions – Warm spice with gentle sweetness
- Crown the meal with savory taquitos – a lower-sugar dessert option