Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mediterranean Dinner Party

Every summer, my husband invites his staff and their families over for a dinner party.  Usually, he has just returned from Alaska with a ton of fish and this takes place in August when it's hot.  We got going on this a little late this year and he didn't get the chance to go to Alaska.  So, it was cold and rainy and I had to rethink the whole BBQ plan.

So, here is the Mediterranean inspired menu plan that I came up with:

Spinach Artichoke Dip with chips
Garlic Lemon Chicken Kebabs
Composed Greek Salad
Pita Bread
Stuffed Grape Leaves
Moroccan Carrots
Lime-Pistachio Tart

The pita bread and the stuffed stuffed grape leaves  were store bought, but the rest was homemade.

Composed Greek Salad

3 ripe tomatoes, sliced
2 large cucumbers (washed, but not peeled), sliced
1/2 red onion, cut into thin rings
1/2 c. feta cheese
Balsamic vinaigrette

So, I simply laid out the cucumbers and tomatoes in rows and then sprinkled on the onions and the cheese and drizzled with the vinaigrette.  So easy, yet it looks so much prettier than a tossed salad.
1 2/3 c. cooked and cooled chickpeas (or 1 can drained and rinsed)
1 1/2 T. sesame tahini
3 T. fresh lemon juice (usually 1 lemon)
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T. olive oil

This is so easy to do, you won't buy storebought hummus anymore.  Just throw everything into the food processor and blend until smooth.  Done.

This is one of Layla's favorite foods, too.  Who would have known?

Moroccan Carrots

This is the food that always scares people the most, but it's the recipe that everyone always wants at the end of the meal.  These are AMAZING!  I got this recipe from my mom ages ago, but have no idea where it came from.

2 lbs carrots (for convenience, I buy the baby carrots - otherwise you need to peel and chop them to a similar size)
8 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 c. cumin
1/4 c. paprika
1 T. salt
1 T. pepper
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 c. olive oil
1 c. red wine vinegar

  • Steam the carrots just until tender.  Do not overcook.
  • While the carrots are steaming, whisk together all of the other ingredients. 
  • Pour hot carrots into sauce and stir. Stir occasionally while cooling.  Serve at room temperature.

Here's a pic of the garlic lemon chicken kebabs, just because they are so pretty:

Now, the original Lime Pistachio Tart recipe from Martha Stewart does need some modifications.  First of all, it makes way too much filling...way more than would fit in my 9" springform.  This is good news, because this is not an easy recipe and it is definitely NOT an inexpensive one.  I also changed the crust too.  So, here is what I did:

Lime-Pistachio Tart Adaptation

For the crust:
1/2 container shortbread cookies (I used Sandies)
1 c. pistachios
1/2 stick butter, melted

For the filling:
1 c. whole milk ricotta cheese (do not drain, there is no point)
1 c. mascarpone cheese
8 limes, zested and juiced
15 egg yolks, plus 1 egg
1 1/2 c. sugar

For the crust:  pulse the cookies and the pistachios in the food processor until most crumbs are fine.  Pour in butter, pulse a few more seconds until it is just combined.  Press crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the springform.  Place in refrigerator to chill.  You do not have to bake this.

Follow the steps in the original recipe for the filling.  Again, be sure to skip draining the ricotta...if you use whole milk ricotta, it will not drain.

This makes a beautifully tangy and fluffy dessert.  Definitely a hit!

All in all, the evening went very well.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the food, even the kids.  So, it was worth the extra work this time around.  Next year is definitely an Alaska year though!

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