I invited way too many people for dinner, again! Like a college, I always invite more people than my house can possibly host for a sit down, figuring that about 50 percent wouldn’t be able to make it. Usually this gamble works out for me, sometimes too many RSVP. This time around, Nico and I welcomed 23 other guests into our home, so obviously we weren’t having a sit down dinner! I don’t have 25 chairs!!
Nico was just getting back from a 10 day trip to France, my friend Vanessa’s birthday was coming up, and Memorial day seems like an America-wide call for a cookout. All of these causes gathered us together to celebrate!
I wanted an opportunity to use our grill, and, since this was a bit of a last minute party, I did not have time to thoroughly research a new cuisine! I figured this would be a mélange of our greatest hits, with a few new recipes to boot! I asked every guest to bring some wine and something they would want to throw on the grill, and I prepared sauces, breads, and salads to go along with the meal. This is a great (and I have been informed, very American) way to host a huge party. Salads and sauces are relatively easy to prepare, and if you are not a lunatic like I am, you can simply buy some breads to go with your meal. If you are a lunatic like me, stay tuned for all of the recipes for baguettes and biscuits I made for the meal below!
We decided to have two tables! One indoors for the appetizers, sauces and breads, and desserts, and one outside for all of the various grilled goods that were coming in. This way people could eat indoors or outdoors or go back and forth at their leisure. I set up every stool. chair, cushion and couch in my possession in various locations throughout the first floor and the back yard.
Mobility was very important for the appetizer course, so we went with fairly small dishes. No one ever arrives on time to my parties, must be a European thing! So I figured we would have people wandering in and needing a snack as they wait for the rest, and since we were grilling, we might have to wait a bit for the main course to arrive, so I wanted to have something people can snack on as they wait, and the grill masters can snack on as they grill!
- Pitted olives, buy the best you can find. I prefer the ones you buy by weight at the market to the canned ones
- Sardèle in Saòr Crostini, one of my all-time favorite appetizers!
The Main Course
The main course was outfitted by our guests. Everyone brought the meat or fish that they wanted to grill. Salt and pepper and olive oil are always on hand and I had a variety of sauces to go along with the meal. In addition, in case anyone was in the sandwich making mood, I baked a second batch of baguettes. Instead of forming 3 loaves as I usually do, I made 12 baby loaves so people could make hotdog buns or bánh mì or simply have some bread to dip in the sauces. For lovers of soft breads, I made a full batch of my Rosemary and Parmesan Buttermilk Biscuits with some buttermilk left over from making Butter a while back.
To green up our bread and meat meal, I made two of my favorite salads. Caesar salad, this time with grill-charred mustard greens and arugula instead of regular lettuce and an Asian inspired slaw of cabbage, carrots, edamame, and raisins in a ginger, soy and tahini dressing. If you want to give this new variant on the Caesar salad a try, follow my original recipe, but instead of lettuce. Grab 5 cups of arugula and a big batch (about 8 – 10 cups) of mustard greens. Toss the greens in a bit of olive oil and grill them for a few minutes. Let them cool and cut out and discard the stems. Mix the greens and follow the recipe for the rest!
- Fresh French Baguettes (don’t forget to make a double batch if you are planning on using some for the croutons in the Caesar Salad and to serve the Crostini)
- Rosemary Parmesan Buttermilk Biscuits
- Caesar Salad with Grill-Charred Mustard Greens and Arugula
- Cabbage and Carrot Slaw with Ginger Dressing
- Cilantro Chutney
- Peach Confiture
To celebrate Vanessa’s birthday, I decided to reinvent a bit of our High Tea menu for her, especially since she did not have the chance to join us in the first place. I created two new flavors of Macaron for the cookout, and will be sharing a tutorial on creating Macaron later this week, so stay tuned! In addition, I prepared a lovely salted chocolate caramel tart, which was just awarded at a pie contest the day before! Stay tuned for the award winning recipe later this week! In addition, I created some Raspberry and Cream Cheese Hand Pies so people could grab desserts and keep milling around.
- Lavender Macaron with Lemon Buttercream
- Chocolate Macaron with Orange Blossom Buttercream and The Secrets of the Macaron!
- Raspberry and Cream Cheese Hand Pies (this Saturday!)
- Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart
The Game Plan
2 days before:
- prepare Sardèle in Saòr Crostini topping and refrigerate in an airtight container
- prepare Peach Confiture and refrigerate in an airtight container
- prepare Aiolis and refrigerate in airtight containers
- prepare salad dressings for Caesar Salad and Cabbage and Carrot Slaw, refrigerate in jars
1 day before:
- prepare Lavender Macaron and Chocolate Macaron and refrigerate between layers of parchment in an airtight container
- bake Berry and Cream Cheese Hand Pies, wrap in foil and store on counter
- bake Chocolate and Caramel Tart, do not add the salt until tomorrow, store uncovered in the fridge (or cover with aluminum foil, carefully!)
- prepare Cilantro Chutney, refrigerate in airtight container
- bake Baguettes, if making yourself
- bake Parmesan Rosemary Buttermilk Biscuits
- assemble Cabbage Slaw around 1 hour before serving
- remove Macaron and all Sauces from fridge 1 hour before serving
- remove Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart from fridge, sprinkle fleur de sel and arrange on serving platter
I am so excited to announce that I am publishing my first book!! If you have loved the recipes on ChezNousDinners, please consider funding my Kickstarter to publish Chez Nous: Communal Dinners!
I am thrilled to announce that we have raised over $2500 in the first 10 days! More than half way there!