Yes – I understand there’s a football game on Sunday. Do I know who’s playing? No. Do I know where they’re playing? No. In blissful ignorance I have been planning dinner parties and thinking about Los Angeles empty of crowds and where I’ll go on Sunday. The Kid and the Mister are thinking otherwise – but I’ve got one more day in the bubble and I’m throwing a party.
Saturday’s Menu for Eight:
Martinis with spiced nuts and marinated olives
Tomato garlic soup topped with mascarpone and pink pepper
Pasta tossed with apples, celery, aged Gouda cheese
Proscuitto or Speck
Roast fennel and green beans in a shallot vinagrette
The trick with the menu above is it’s easy, and since the only meat is a thinly sliced platter of Proscuitto (for draping over pasta), your vegetarian guests will be very happy.
2 1/2 cups of almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans. 2 tbs. chopped fresh rosemary. A dash of cayenne pepper (omit it if you don’t like things hot). 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt. 2 teaspoons brown sugar. 1 tbs. unsalted butter.
Melt the butter with the sugar, salt, rosemary, and cayenne. Put the nuts in a bowl and pour over the spice mixture and toss until the nuts are coated. Spread the nuts on a cookie sheet and toast (350 F) until they are light brown, about 10 minutes, but keep an eye on them because they scorch easily. While they cool they make crackling noises, don’t be afraid.
Tomato Garlic Soup:
So simple and yet people ask me how to make this all the time… Mince 2-4 cloves of garlic. If you sprinkle them with salt you get a finer chop and it takes away a bit of the bitterness. If you want to be really detail oriented remove the shoot from the center of the clove with the tip of your knife. I know people who swear it makes garlic more mellow. Pour about four tablespoons of nice olive oil in a pot and add the garlic. Stir and watch carefully, the oil should become fragrant, but don’t let the garlic brown or it will taste really, really, bad. Whir up two 28 oz cans of San Marzano plum tomatoes in the blender (or if you have one of those immersion doo-hickies you can do it right in the soup pot) and pour into the garlic and oil. Simmer until the flavors develop, about a half an hour (if it’s too thick thin with water). Salt to taste. To serve, top with a dollop of mascarpone and a sprinkle of pink pepper.
Pasta with Apples, Celery, Aged Gouda, and a boatload of Butter:
Okay, I didn’t say it was low calorie – I said you could serve it to vegetarians. To make the sauce sauté two chopped apples and 4 stalks of chopped celery in a stick (that’s a quarter pound) of butter. Grate, on the finest setting, about three ounces of Aged Gouda (or you can use Parmesan). To serve, take the cooked pasta and toss it in the butter and apples and celery, top with a generous amount of cheese, and for the non-veggie among you, lay on those delicate, lusciously porky slices of Speck or Prosciutto.
Roasted Fennel and Green Beans in a Shallot Vinagrette:
Chop two fennel bulbs in batons about half an inch thick and place in roasting pan. Clean a half a pound of green beans and add to the pan. Pour the vinagrette – one minced shallot, salt, pepper, a quarter teaspoon of mustard, olive oil, and white wine vinegar – over the veg and roast for half an hour at 350F. Serve hot.
I always use this recipe from David Lebovitz – it’s sensational. French Pear & Almond Tart Recipe | David Lebovitz.