The dinner party. A wonderful wild day of cooking and a wonderful wild night of dear friends, good food, and wine. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be dear friends, it’s always a pleasure to lay out a beautiful meal and share it with friends new and old, oh, and I make them bring the wine. I will never forget VB and M. Sal coming and actually embracing my wicked little dog. It’s all in the mix! And they brought a great Spanish wine.
In general I love winter, but it does tire me out, not in the dark grey day way, I champion the dark grey day stuff, but in the layering up at the very least three times a day to take the dog out, and the incessant heat blasting from the radiators. True, when I moved out west, I missed that ping and whistle of the my citified radiator existence, but now I basically have both windows open all winter to vent the all pervasive heat cloud. But, enough about me. I mention this because when I received a text from two of the dearest people on earth that they had come to town, I was basically prone on the couch with my logic puzzle book, hoping to spend the rest of the day watching Vikings. At first I tried to cheap out by saying, let’s take a walk in the park and grab a cup of coffee, because I love to walk in the park and I figured they would too. But then I came to my senses and realized, no, I want to feed these people, I want to plow through my five books and make the most delicious hoo-haw I can for them. And so, I did. Let us begin with Curried Coconut Tomato Soup. As it turned out this was a great starter, because my Bay Area friends arrived in a frozen state, and how wonderful was it to sit them down and serve them up a lovely quietly spicy, tomato and coconut soup. We’ve talked about planning a dinner party before, it’s essential that you pace yourself and know what you can prepare beforehand so you get that laying on the couch prone with the logic puzzle book time that you so deserve. I knew that this soup was basically a simple mix of gorgeous spices, and friends that coriander is what does the trick here, that and the sautéing the onion in butter until it’s weak at the knees. I started the soup at three, the guests were to arrive at four, I knew that I could do the onion spices and tomato beforehand and then add the coconut milk minutes before they came. No worries, you’ll get good at this. But the part that I started at 10:00 a.m. was the gorgeous, kiss me now, lavender brûlée. I’d picked up some lavender from Kalustyans when I bought the rose petals, because, you know, why not go for gold. I just had the feeling that my friend Carly would feel good about lavender and I did a quick round of recipes on the net and came up with lavender creme brûlée. Naturally this appealed to me because I could buy a new gadget and set something on fire. ( Harken back to first post) Well, turns out that creme brûlée is one of Miss Carly’s fav-o desserts and the lavender thing was incredible. Because creme brûlée has to set a bit, you need to do it yesterday or do it early and that all worked out well. I used this recipe, because I liked that it took an hour to steep the buds, where as others didn’t. I really wanted that flower essence in there. I do think that you could maybe heighten the fat content as if you look up creme brûlée you’re going to see a lot of heavy cream and half and half. This recipe calls for regular milk and heavy cream but it was soooo good so here you go… lavender creme brûlée. It was gorgeous. And I’m not even a Creme Brûlée fan. But when you add the essence of a flower to something you eat, it’s magical. Oh, and I got to set it on fire.
But let us now talk about the main course. Roasted Chicken Legs with Smoked Paprika, Blood Orange, and Ginger. I don’t usually do a main course that I haven’t done before, but this just sounded so good. And it was so good that I literally made it the next night for my own dinner. The marinade is quite easy and after I had set the creme brûlée in the fridge I mixed it all up, chopping the garlic, ginger and orange zest, – (again I have to strongly suggest a micro plane grater), cilantro, salt, oil, orange juice, and that blessed smoky paprika – throwing it all into a blender or if you’re lucky enough to have a friend give you this gadget, which I really and no idea how useful it was when she gave it to me, but now I thank her everyday, and blending it all up. I didn’t use the jalapeño because I didn’t know how heat tolerant my guests would be but I did throw in a pinch of Aleppo chili flakes and that did the trick.
The chicken marinated all day in this mixture, and I am going to recommend letting it marinate as long as you possibly can, certainly even the night before. I put it in the oven twenty minutes before they arrived as it would take 40 minutes at 475 (475?? I’m given it all she’s got, Captain!) and we had the soup course so I planned accordingly. This chicken was so good and flavorful and tender, it is my new favorite, go-to entree. The salad was the same winter salad with radicchio I posted before, only this time I used Endive because the Radicchio was sad and wilted. I would say, don’t bother without the radicchio, but they seemed to like it and it was a nice earthy refreshing mix with the chicken.
And now, the dessert. Full disclosure, I had just bought the torch that morning and I made the manfolk figure out how to put in the butane, much to his chagrin, I think, but he did a bang-up job of it! I can say it takes a bit of practice to get that perfect crust, but who minds the practice rounds, right? It was so lovely and a perfect topper from a spicy meal. Sweet, creamy and lavendery! Cook This Now!