Jul 19, 2009

A Midsummer Night Dinner

Well that was lovely.

An evening filled with old friends, beautiful weather, good food, lots of laughter and an especially delicious sauvignon blanc courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Weir (truly, their taste in wine is superb).

In fact, I was having such a great time – and enjoying my wine so much – that I forgot to take photos until it was too late! So my apologies for the images below, I don’t think they do our dinner justice…

Clockwise from top left: white bean dip, family-style serving, the view from my seat, the too-late dessert shot.

This might have been the easiest menu I’ve ever made – even my shopping list was short. I had everything but the shrimp and fresh produce in my pantry, plus nothing required more than just a few minutes of prep time.

Menu (for 6):
White Bean Dip with Fried Garlic & Rosemary
BBQ Shrimp
French Bread
Green Beans with Mustard Vinaigrette
Peach and Cherry Crostata

White Bean Dip with Fried Garlic & Rosemary
I wasn’t going to serve a heavy appetizer since dinner involved a lot of bread & butter, but I really wanted a nice long cocktail hour to catch up with my buds and I didn’t want to leave them hungry…so at the last minute I whipped up a white bean “hummus”. Frying the garlic and rosemary helps mellow their flavors so they’re not too overwhelming.

What you need:
Two 14oz. cans white beans (navy or cannellini)
4 cloves garlic, sliced
One 4” sprig fresh rosemary
.5 cup olive oil
.25 tsp cumin
salt & pepper
Pita chips or crackers for serving

How to make it:
Heat olive oil in a small saucepot over medium heat. Add garlic and whole rosemary spring and let them sizzle away until the garlic is light brown. Meanwhile drain & rinse the beans and dump them in the bowl of a food processor with a pinch of cumin. When the garlic is ready, remove the pot from the heat, carefully pull the rosemary out and strip the leaves off the stem. Coarsely chop the leaves and add them, with the garlic and the oil, to the food processor. Buzz everything together until smooth, take a taste and add salt & pepper as needed.

BBQ Shrimp
This is actually a New Orleans-style BBQ Shrimp - essentially it’s whole shrimp cooked in a spicy butter sauce and served with lots of French bread to soak everything up. Traditionally the shrimp are left in their shells but since I had a recently reformed vegetarian on the guest list I wasn’t so sure how keen she’d be about ripping the little legs off her dinner before she ate it… so I cleaned and peeled the shrimp, leaving just the tails on. If you’re short on time, or just not into de-veining shrimp, you can actually buy them cleaned & ready to go for a little more money. And if you’re nowhere near an ocean, the frozen ones will work just fine.

What you need:
3lbs large shrimp, cleaned, de-veined and peeled
4 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 sticks butter
2 tsp garlic salt
.5 tsp oregano
4 tsp ground black pepper
.5 tsp onion powder
.5 tsp smoky paprika
Pinch ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
12 oz. beer
4 oz. (1/2 cup) Worcestershire sauce
Handful of fresh chives, chopped or snipped (optional)
French bread for serving

How to make it:
In a large pot, heat butter and garlic over medium high heat until butter foams up. Once foam subsides, add all the spices and stir to combine. Add beer and Worcestershire sauce, stir and bring to a boil. Add shrimp and cook 4-5 minutes until the shrimp are pink and cooked through. Sprinkle the chives over the top so it looks pretty, and then you’re done.

I brought the pot to the table, set it in the center with a big ladle and let everyone scoop out spoonfuls of shrimp and rich, dark broth into their bowls. We ate with our fingers and didn’t stop until we’d all sopped up every last bit of the sauce.

Green Beans with Mustard Vinaigrette
This is an easy, do-ahead way to serve a green vegetable. They’re crisp and tangy and make a great accent for the rich shrimp. And since we were eating our shrimp with our fingers we just picked these up with our fingers too!

I’m not doing an ingredient list - you can really make a vinaigrette with any combination of oils, vinegars and spices you have on hand. I used rice wine vinegar, a spoonful of mustard and a sliced shallot to make a mellow dressing and tossed it with green beans I had quickly cooked in a pot of salted water. I made everything in the afternoon and served them room temp but they’d be delicious hot or cold too.

Peach and Cherry Crostata
Using a ready made frozen pie crust makes this super easy and fast to assemble. Simply thaw the crust and unroll it onto a greased baking sheet, Chop four cups of whatever fruit you want to use and toss it with a handful of sugar (I used turbinado sugar) and a little flour. Pile the fruit in the center of your crust, fold the edges inward, brush with a little egg wash or cream, sprinkle more sugar on top & bake for 40 minutes at 425 degrees until the crust is golden and the fruit is bubbling.

I served it with a splash of cream but ice cream would, of course, be fabulous. Because really, when does adding ice cream to something ever really NOT work out?

Big thanks again to my friends for the fun time, the gorgeous flowers, the incredible wine, for doing the dishes, and for being the best new-recipe guinea pigs a gal could ask for.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Sounds lovely! I like seeing all the photos side-by-side.