Some of my dearest friends are coming over for dinner next weekend. After months of failed attempts to find a night that mutually works for all six of us – with jobs, travel, social schedules, and the usual busy life stuff that everyone has, we’ve finally succeeded. I’m especially excited because this is the first dinner party I’m throwing after starting Brown Butter & Bourbon, so I’ll write about all the planning and execution from start to finish. These are friends I grew up with in Iowa and after we all scattered around the globe for a while, we all moved to New York. Because I moved to Jackson Hole during high school, I missed those pre-college years with them, so it has been wonderful to reconnect and get to know each other all over again. It’s such a warm feeling to discover that you already know someone you actually really like and want to hang out with more often!
So, where to start? Of the five, two are on gluten-free diets and at least one is vegetarian, so this will be a gluten-free veggie meal. I know that to carnivores that sounds like it will be really boring, but come on, guys: just because there’s no meat or wheat doesn’t mean there won’t be filling or have a ton of flavor. Because it’s fall and getting chillier, and because I rarely make soup, I think a lovely soup would be perfect to start. Ellie Krieger makes a butternut squash soup with curry powder, which sounds like it has a spicy kick and switches up the usual squash soup flavors.
Then, a dish that has always gotten rave reviews and is quite filling is tagliatelle baked with gorgonzola and walnuts (sort of a very grownup mac and cheese). Clearly pasta has wheat in it and is therefore forbidden, but I’m thinking of making the dish with rice pasta, which is gluten-free. The only hiccup is that I’ve never tried rice pasta and have no idea what it tastes like, so that’s something I really need to taste before serving it to guests.
If the rice pasta doesn’t substitute well, maybe a little breakfast at dinner with eggs florentine over polenta and baked oven fries on the side. Ooh that sounds good, but I have to think about how to execute poached eggs for six people. Other ideas: eggplant parmesan (too typical?) or a lentil and veggie frittata (with quinoa and maybe a balsamic reduction?).
Lastly, balsamic vinegar truffles (taking a cue from my Black and White Inspiration), which will be rich enough to end the meal, yet small enough to enjoy without guilt. I can also make them the day before and then forget about them, which is always a good thing.
I haven’t even gotten to decor yet, though I keep thinking of bouquets of crayons and butcher paper – sometimes decor dictates the menu, but with so many food restrictions, I’m going to figure out the menu first. So: I need to try rice pasta and then make a decision.