Holiday Dinner Party

Last night Sarah and I hosted a dinner party for two couples (Steve & Tammy and Matt & Meredith). We’ve never really done a small dinner party before and I was very pleased with the outcome. It gave us an excuse to use our china and for me to try out some new recipes. Over the course of about 4 hours there was much eating and conversation. You can read Steve’s post for a review of the evening.

The Menu:

  • Crostini with olive tapanade
  • Spinach salad with Maytag blue cheese
  • Braised pork loin with honey lemon glazed carrots and garlic mashed potatoes
  • Cheese course
  • Lemon Crème Brûlée

    All of the bread throughout the meal was pretty much my standard bread recipe (see other posts on this site) with a mixture of bread, unbleached white, and semolina flours. I also used about a tablespoon of barley malt as a sweetener with more depth than sugar.


  • Manzanilla Olives
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Capers
  • Anchovy oil (from a jar of anchovies)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine. Let rest for a few hours then spread on lightly toasted bread.

    Spinach salad with Maytag blue cheese

    This is a basic salad of fresh spinach leaves, Maytag blue cheese, candied pecans, bacon, homemade croutons and a lemon vinaigrette.

    Braised pork loin with honey lemon glazed carrots and garlic mashed potatoes

  • 4 oz pork medallions cut from a pork tenderloin
  • 1tbsp oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 14 oz can diced tomato
  • whole green olives
  • thyme
  • bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups red wine (I used a shiraz)

    Set the oven to 250° F. Add the oil to a heavy dutch oven (with a tight fitting lid) and brown the pork medallions on all sides. Remove the pork and sweat the onion and garlic. After 3-5 minutes add the tomatoes being sure to scrape up all of the fond that developed during the pork/onion cooking. Add the thyme, bay leaf, and wine then bring to a simmer. Return the pork to the pan, cover, and place in the oven for 90 minutes.

    Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • Potatoes peeled, chopped roughly
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

    Simmer garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes, discard garlic. Boil potatoes and mash with cream and oil.

    Honey Lemon Glazed Carrots

  • 1lb ready to eat carrots in half diagonally
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in water

    Boil carrots for 15 minutes. Combine honey, sugar, butter, water in saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir carrots into glaze and simmer for 3 minutes. Add cornstarch slurry to thicken. Place in a covered baking dish and bake at 200° F for 45 minutes.

    Cheese Course

    Maytag blue, 12 month aged Manchego, a triple creme brie. I forgot to write down the name of the brie — although I think Steve did, can you help me out Steve?

    Lemon Crème Brûlée

  • 3 cups cream
  • zest from 2 lemons
  • 7 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • sugar for crusting

    Combine cream and lemon zest and bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Whisk together egg yolks and sugar. Slowly add the cream to the egg mixture whisking constantly. Strain the custard through cheese cloth to remove the lemon zest and stir in the vanilla and lemon juice. Pour into 6 custard cups and bake in a water bath (roasting pan filled with hot water half way up the sides of the ramekins) at 300° for 30-40 minutes until the custard is the consistency of soft set eggs. Chill uncovered for 4 hours. Sprinkle with additional sugar and melt using a blow torch (you could also use the broiler, but the torch is more fun).