Dinner Party of Blue, White and Chocolate – Part III

For dinner, I paired Ina Garten’s Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli with her Sole Meuniere. Yes, I know you’re not supposed to put cheese with fish and I. Don’t. Care. I love parmesan in any situation, and the pine nuts and lemon on the broccoli matched perfectly with the lemon flavor on the sole.

It was a gorgeous meal, and honestly, so simple that I often make it for myself when I feel like putting a little extra effort into my dinner and making something special.

Sole Meuniere (adapated from Ina Garten)

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Vege Sal
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 fresh sole fillets (3-4 ounces is a good size, but you can buy them as large as will fit in your pan)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Combine the flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon Vege Sal, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a large shallow plate. Pat the sole fillets dry with paper towels.

Heat 3 tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan over medium heat until it starts to brown. Dredge 2 sole fillets in the seasoned flour on both sides and place them in the hot butter. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 2 minutes. Turn carefully with a large spatula and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. While the second side cooks, add 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to the pan (be careful that you don’t add much more than 3 tablespoons, or it will be too lemony). Plate the fish and pour any remaining sauce over them. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.

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Rosemary and Thyme, Garlic and Lemon



I keep thinking about the garlic-lemon aioli that I made for Christmas Eve dinner. It was SO yummy that I desperately want an excuse to make it again for another dinner party, and I found one in these heavenly rosemary-thyme oven fries. Wouldn’t they be tasty dipped into garlic-lemon aioli? I love all those herbs and spices together.

The flavors in both components are strong, so serve them with salmon cooked simply with salt and pepper, your favorite vegetable and a nice bread. Or, to make the menu gluten-free, just leave the bread out. It’s a casual family-style dinner, but you won’t be able to make it ahead. To make up for that, prepare dessert earlier with something easy, like cookies.

Rosemary and Thyme, Garlic and Lemon Menu

Main Courses:


Fall Greenmarket Menu


Now, I do not subscribe to Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop newsletter.  Let’s just make that clear straight away.  I loved Gwyneth in Shakespeare in Love and Sliding Doors, but I do not need to know her opinions on what $1800 Christmas gifts I should buy my friends, what Balenciaga coin purse I should buy, or how we should all really sleep more than eight hours.  My friend subscribes, though, and she forwards it to me when she thinks it particularly interesting or entertaining – which is how I got this particular tip about a place which, yes, as much as I hate to admit it, is kind of awesome.

from rivercottage.net


River Cottage is a sustainable farm in England that offers courses in such classic skills as breadmaking, beekeeping, mushroom foraging and butchering and cooking various animals “in a day”.  They also have evening dinners made with food grown and cooked on the farm that I definitely want to go to the next time I’m across the pond.  How wonderful to have a meal in which you grew the food and  know exactly where it came from and what you’re putting in your body – something that is difficult to do in NYC.  I love that the White House has a garden now and is raising awareness about knowing where your food comes from.  Anyway…I digress…the point of this is that River Cottage has a yummy butternut squash and blue cheese recipe on its website and I got excited  about making a simple vegetarian and gluten-free fall menu around it!  This would be lovely for just yourself or for a casual dinner party – it would have been great at my Sweet Home Dinner last week!  I’ll have to remember it for next time.



Fall Greenmarket Menu

Sweet Home Dinner


It was gorgeous and a wonderful evening. Alexis was down from Connecticut for the day and stopped by to stay hi while I was stringing the flowers for the ceiling. Of course I invited her to stay for dinner, and she was such a wonderful addition to our party – and got to hear lots of stories about Fairfield (where we all grew up) that either scared or intrigued her! Ha!

It’s an artistic group, so it was really fun to create a colorful table with bouquets of color pencils over brown craft paper that begged to be drawn on. I used it as the easiest place cards ever – just wrote everyone’s names above their plates.

DSC00963The flowers were simple, but added a punch of color. I bought four bunches of carnations in yellow and three shades of pink, and kept each color in its own vase rather than mixing them. It made the flowers look cohesive and at the same time, with the colored pencils, made the table as a whole very colorful.


I then strung blossoms on three long strands of thread and hung them from the ceiling for something more festive and with a little bit of South Asian flair.


DSC00948We made gorgeous doodles.

mosaicc029a8a12365810ee7ba98c79040ae60c68648d2And the food…Anna brought her gorgeous macaroons made with organic sweetened condensed milk, but I was so consumed with eating them that I completely forgot to take a photograph. Just imagine perfectly browned, chewy golden macaroons, and you’ll have a good sense of how lovely they were. Please continue for the post-mortem on my dishes.

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Sweet Home Dinner: Menu

Remember when I decided I needed to try gluten-free pasta to see if I could substitute it in for my tagliatelle with gorgonzola? I ran down to the store the other day for the ingredients to make classic mac and cheese with rice pasta, and couldn’t find rice pasta. However, they did have quinoa pasta and corn pasta, so I chose the corn because it came in classic elbow macaroni and cooked it up. It tastes good! Honestly, I couldn’t even tell the difference. Plus, according to the wise comments, rice pasta falls apart anyway – so I will take that to mean my choice of corn pasta was a genius move on my part and even if the store had had rice pasta, I undoubtedly would still have chosen the corn because I just know things like that….yeah….

So this is excellent, and will let me go with my original menu idea of soup followed by pasta and simple veggies, and maybe a nice brown bread for the gluten eaters.  One of my guests offered to bring macaroons for dessert, which are obviously gluten-free and sound soooo good!  I’ll just save the balsamic truffles for another time; it’s always kind of a nice feeling to know you’ve got a dessert in your back pocket that will go with almost any meal and no one has seen it before.  We’ll start with a nice simple zucchini and goat cheese appetizer, which I can not only make the day before, but will be extra vegetables (always good!) and a little protein in the cheese.

Zucchini_Rolls_lgAs for libations, a non-drinking friend is bringing something tasty and non-alcoholic. For the drinkers, I think the wine will have to marry well with the gorgonzola but otherwise could probably be whatever you like. I’ll probably just ask at the wine shop what they would recommend, as I’m no wine expert. I even went to a lovely wine tasting the other night that was meant to be focused on how to order wine from a mysterious wine list – we all know how foreign those look, right?! This was information I needed! – and I kid you not, the advice they gave over and over was “Ask the sommelier.” So basically there is no way to figure it out yourself. Oh well, I still had a great time at the tasting and got to see friends from college, so it was overall a win.

Sweet Home Dinner Menu

  • Gluten-Free Pasta baked with Mushrooms, Gorgonzola and Walnuts (continue for the recipe)
  • Roasted green beans with balsamic vinegar and honey
  • Macaroons from my friend AC

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Sweet Home Dinner: Thoughts

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.

Black and White Inspiration

Something about these simple stark white hydrangea bunches against the black dresses is really inspiring me – except as accent colors, black and white are so rarely used on tables.  How fun would it be to have such a dramatic table?

Bonnie Tsang on Snippet and Ink

I LOVE white hydrangeas.  I love all hydrangeas, truthfully, but white ones are so versatile, soft and welcoming.  Using them or another fluffy flower like peonies, rather than a  a more delicate flower like white orchids or roses, will lend the black elements on the table some softness that keeps it from being too stark and Sixties mod.  It’s such a harsh color scheme that I would further soften it by adding wide black ribbons to the vases with big bows and long trailing ends.  Rather than a black or white tablecloth, which would make the table too light or too dark, black napkins draped over the side of the table as placemats would add the black element without overwhelming the entire table, and white plates over them would balance the darkness.  For accent colors, I’d like some gold – perhaps a few burnished gold candlesticks with white taper candles on the table – and a little greenery either in the vases or place cards.  I LOVE these simple pear place cards.  So fall-y and simple, and absolutely gorgeous.

The presentation and style of food could either lean towards the more simple and modern if you want to accentuate the clean lines and stark colors of the table, with a carefully presented salad followed by a simple piece of fish.  Or, you could contrast with the table and warm it up with comfortable food such as roast chicken.  Both could end with homemade passed truffles, which will look beautiful on the black and white table (and I just really want to make them!).

More Modern Menu

More Homey Menu

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