Wednesday, February 23, 2011

greatest hits

When planning dinner party menus, I usually gravitate toward new and untested recipes. Partially because I have a huge backlog of dishes I want to try, and partially because it gives me more fodder for this here blog. So I tend to experiment when friends come over, and reserve my favorite recipes for weeknight dinners. But sometimes you just want something you know is going to come out perfectly, either because you're short on time, or want to really wow the people you're feeding. Or in my case last Friday, both. 
In an effort to reclaim my weekends a bit more, I've started having people over on Friday nights--which seemed crazy at first, but it's actually not a bad way to go. On one hand, you have to be a bit more organized and plan ahead. I tidied up the house the night before, cleaning the bathroom, and setting out plates and glasses. On the other hand, people are so ready to unwind on a Friday night that they won't expect an elaborate spread.

For a dinner with some work friends, I made a seriously no-brainer menu of my favorite recipes: a salad of winter citrus, olives, and fennel, the truly fabulous Zuni Cafe roasted chicken and bread salad, some roasted veggies, and my favorite cake: torta di pere. This wasn't a simple menu exactly, but it was something I knew I could easily execute after a long day of work and a few glasses of wine.

A greatest hits list is something good to have up your sleeve when these situations arise or when you have the dreaded 'what am I going to make for dinner' brain freeze. Which happens to the best of us. And there's something sort of wonderful about having an arsenal of recipes at your fingertips. It's like that one outfit that always makes you look awesome, or the go-to cocktail you can always order at a bar.

What are your greatest hit dishes when entertaining? Please share in the comments.

Greatest hits menu

Salad of winter citrus, olives, and fennel
Zuni Cafe roasted chicken and bread salad
Roasted carrots and parsnips
Chocolate pear cake with whipped cream


Julie said...

That cake looks like a giant chocolate chip cookie!

I turn to a very basic almond cake over and over for guests (and I'm actually making one tonight to bring to a dinner tomorrow!). Simple ingredients I always have around, but it's so yummy!

Lisa said...

Julie, it TASTES like a giant chocolate chip cookie! But with chunks of pears and nuttiness from the brown butter. So good.

Almond cake is a great staple dessert. You could dress it up so many ways, I imagine.

Laura said...

lemon roasted cauliflower, roast pork loin with a curry paste and mustard rub, salad and sweet potatoes=Dinner on two-hours notice for the family and friday night dinner for two weary parents of 1 year-old.

Lisa said...

That sounds awesome! And two hours notice? You win a prize, my dear.

Daniel said...

--oysters rockefeller
--lobster thermador
--baked Alaska

A simple weeknight menu when you don't feel like making a fuss.

Romantic Dinner said...

WOW Yummy Recipe and very lovely looks. Fantastic your thought and nice posting . Colorful its recipe and fantastic this post.

Janet said...

Love citrus and fennel salad.
My go to meal:
Salad: Baby greens, sliced pear with gorgonzola
Main: Mussels with white wine
Dessert: Apple pie (with or without ice cream)

Lisa said...

Daniel: Yes, I'd like to see you make those things for me. On a Tuesday night.

Janet: Mussels are such a good idea. Inexpensive, and they cook so quickly.


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