Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fall Dinner Party: Antonio Dinner

It's menu sharing time.

Putting together the meal plan was the most time-consuming part of the whole dinner.  It took me one whole day of sitting down, with pen, paper, cookbooks, and Pinterest, to get the menu dialed in. I had decided on dessert months ago, so I was filling in around that.

A couple of the things, like the salad, were recipes that I've wanted to try forever, and just needed a good excuse.  Others were tried and true recipes, or new spins on old favorites.

Links to all the recipes I used, unless otherwise noted, can be found on my Fall Dinner - Antonio's Pinterest board, including a link to the menu printable I used.

This is gonna be a long and wordy post.
I figured, instead of just throwing a bunch of photos at you, I'd share when and how I prepped everything ahead of time.

At the risk of sounding like a neurotic crazy person:

It's easy to get all stressed out, but if you have several to-do lists going, and are organized, it's really no different than any other dinner prep.
I like to write down the whole menu in a spiral notebook, then make notes next to each thing of how long it cooks and at what temp.
I also have a food to-do list and other random to-do list separately, with even small things, like light candles, on it.
It sounds excessive when I type it out, but it's a huge help to keep your head straight.
I'm also one of those, clean as you go, people in the kitchen.
I can not STAND to cook in a messy kitchen, so even if I have a zillion things I'm prepping, it's clean and organized.

Like all good dinner parties worth attending, I'll start with the cocktail.
Aviation Classic, popular in the 1920's.
We had everything except the maraschino liqueur, so it was a pretty easy one to put together.
And I love me some gin.
I didn't have a fun violet for garnish, but I don't think anyone minded too much.

Up next, appetizers.
I pulled my very last jar of homemade fig jam out of the freezer for the occasion.
For the crostini, I used a new cheese that I've become addicted to called Hirten, with some Roquefort up on top of the jam.  
A sprinkle of chopped rosemary once they're out of the oven.
This was one part of the meal I was able to prep ahead.
I assembled them early in the afternoon the day of, kept them in the fridge, then popped them in the oven 15 minutes before go time.

The last spoonful of fig jam went in my belly.

Fig Spread and Cheese Crostini

The cheese and fruit platter got some last minute contributions from The Dad, so it had more than what the menu said.
We did smoked Gouda, the cinnamon-dusted Toscano from Trader Joe's (heaven), a yummy Olympic Provisions salami, sliced pears, and fresh raspberries.
Some yummy salted cashews on the side and bread for piling all the goodies onto.

The cheese and fruit part of the meal was assembled about 30 minutes before guests were to arrive.
I pulled the cheese and salami out of the fridge an hour before, to let it come up to room temp.
The bread was cut up several hours ahead of time and kept in a plastic bag.
The nuts and raspberries just went into bowls.

Next up, the salad.
I've wanted to make this salad for so long.
The plating and photography in the original post is stunning.

I was able to make the dressing the day before and keep it in the fridge.
The pears and apples were cut 2 - 3 hours prior to guest arrival, and stored in lemon water.
I drained them about an hour before go time and assembled the salads, minus the nuts and dressing.
I used arugula instead of watercress.
I stored the plated salads in the fridge until it was time to serve them.
Right before serving, I added the dressing, Roquefort crumbles, pistachios, and pomegranates for some color.

If you don't want to go to the trouble of assembling it like this, it would be just as good made like a regular salad, using the same ingredients, which is what we did for leftovers the next night.
Heads up, I doubled the dressing to serve four people, but didn't double the amount of garlic, which is rare for me.
It was VERY garlicky, so go easy.

Pear and Roquefort Salad

Up next, the main course.
I love me some braised short ribs.
I've blogged about two different recipes that are popular at my house, and considered making the red wine one I do in the crock pot.  But in the end, I decided to try out a new one.  'Cause if you can't try out new recipes on family, who can you try them out on?  :)
I made the recipe for Short Rib and Ricotta Gnocchi, but instead of the gnocchi, I made creamy polenta.
I went to our neighborhood butcher for the meat, mmmmmm, and cooked it the day before, for two reasons.
One, dishes like that always taste better the next day, and two, when you pull it out of the fridge, all the fat is in a hard layer on the top and you can just spoon it off.

Sorry if this grosses you out, but that is some good lookin' meat right there.

The recipe is super easy, and you could even use a chuck roast if you prefer.
Just brown up the meat, cook up the veggies, onion and garlic, add your liquids, and throw it in the oven for 3 or 4 hours.
Done and done.
I just put it on the stove the day of the dinner to reheat.
Gooood stuff.

For the polenta, I made it about an hour before go time, and kept it warm over a double boiler.
I didn't want it to set up, so I stirred it every once in awhile.
I don't make it often enough.  It's so easy and so good.

Onto the veggies.
I made Ina's Brussels Sprouts, but added pears when they were roasting like I did here, because they're delicious together.
I also made, according to my household, the world's best mushrooms.
I blogged about the recipe here:
Oven Roasted Garlic and Butter Mushrooms

I prepped both in two baking pans the day before and kept them in the fridge until it was time to roast them.

The whole meal was plated, so because we didn't do family-style at the table, I could leave the whole centerpiece as-is, and just dish up from the stove.

I know, the lighting sucks for all the food pics, but you get what you get with Oregon in November.

Here's the main course:

Almost done, kids.
Oh, yummy delicious, heaven in my mouth, dessert.

It all started with the sauce.
I've had this sauce recipe for more years than I can count.
Stashed away, waiting.

Bourbon Caramel Sauce.
It came out of our newspaper and I knew immediately I wanted to make bread pudding to go with it.
I scoured the internet for recipes - do you have any clue how many thousands of recipes there are for bread pudding out there?
I almost went with an apple one, but in the end, I chose a basic recipe that would let the sauce be the star of the show.
It was beyond delicious.
I'll share the recipe for the sauce in another post, 'cause you're gonna wanna have it in your arsenal.
There are several recipes for bread pudding on my Pinterest page, but I used the one from HubPages.

I bought Challah bread at Trader Joe's a few days before the dinner, then made the bread pudding one day before.
I cut it up and microwaved each portion, as well as the caramel sauce, right before serving.

I can't even begin to tell you how good that was.
It will become a regular rotation dessert, for sure.

And that's it.
The end of the Antonio Dinner posts.
Well, until I get the Bourbon Caramel Sauce post written.
My sister has added Northrop Dinner to her Christmas list again, so there will be a replay next year.
We'll shoot for a summer meal next time.
Maybe I'll make The Dad cook.


  1. I am blown away by the pure beauty of this post Mindy. Your preparations are seamless and your talent shines. How lucky were your guests to experience the warmth and goodness of everything you have created here! From the drinks to the dessert and everything in the middle....this is what it's all about! Good real knock out food! That salad is the prettiest thing I have seen in a long while! Way to go friend! Just amazing!! Nicole xoxoxoxo

  2. Mindy, I think you could run a little cafe and be quite successful. This was really well done and your sister is a lucky lady to be treated to a dinner like this one. I didn't catch why you called it the antonio dinner. Do you name all of your dinner parties?

  3. Mindy, I hate meal planning for simple every day dinners, much less the sort of detail you go into for doing so many beautiful dishes in just one prepared meal. Wow! I'm so impressed. I'm sure everything tasted even more phenomenal than it looks.

  4. Wow woman!!! That is so impressive!!! Is there anything you do that is not EXCEPTIONAL? You could easily be a professional gardener, chef, party planner, home decorator, party decorator, baker.......I mean seriously is there anything your not good at? lol. You are a very talented lady! Everything you made looked absolutely scrumptious! I am pretty sure if I had to make just one of those things, not alone all of it for one dinner, I would be a nervous wreck! Was your family really impressed? :)

  5. Well Menu is the main part of any small or big office party. You know I was the head of catering team in our office party. The most difficult part was that I had to arrange everything in budget. Thanks to my team who supported me and party was just memorable.


I love and appreciate all your comments. So don't be shy, just say it!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover