Monday, December 13, 2004

We had a dinner party this weekend, very last minute. Our friend and wedding officiant, Ron, came to town, and so we did what we always do when Ron comes to town- planned to feed him and our friend Jeremy some steak. (Thus far they've had cocoa-cumin rubbed steak, Tuscan herb-scented grilled steak, flank steak with chimichurri...) And then my friend Jonathan had mentioned how he and his vegetarian girlfriend had a vegetarian Thanksgiving, which seemed so sad to me that I felt we must invite them for steak as well. (With plenty of side dishes for the girlfriend, obviously).

So we had barbequed party pecans and Ron made martinis, followed by a spinach and apple and almond salad, brioche rolls, a leek and butternut squash gratin, and pan-broiled ribeye steaks with bearnaise sauce. And then an apple tart.

I've gotten my dinner party prep down to a science- I made the pecans in the morning. Then the pate brisee, a cinch in the food processor, and then baked the squash and sauteed the leeks (which Cooking Light says to do for 20 minutes. On medium heat. Stirring once. That resulted in, um, charred leeks. I quickly renamed the dish and called it a caramelized leek and butternut squash gratin) and mashed them together into a casserole, which I then popped in the fridge. I assembled the tart and put it in the fridge and then assembled all of the salad but the apple and put it in the fridge, too. Whisked up the dressing and that, too, went in the fridge. I took the steaks out of the fridge, seasoned them, did the mise en place for the bearnaise, and then sat and relaxed. (I bought the brioche. Hush.)

When the first guest arrived, I popped the squash into oven and then sat some more as everyone arrived and had martinis and nuts and whatnot. Then I fired up two skillets, cooked the steaks, whipped up the bearnaise, sliced an apple, rewhisked the vinaigrette, assembled the salad, and sat and ate. (Oh, and I put the tart in the oven.) Easy as pie. Or tart, I guess. I like nothing more than sitting around a table with old and new friends, eating a pound of butter (seriously, I used a pound of butter making this meal), drinking wine and talking nonsense. Life doesn't get much better.