On Sunday I hosted a dinner for 16 in my humble home. Attendants were mostly ladies, mostly artists, mostly fantasticisimo. I originally planned to invite about 4 to especially celebrate the greatness that are Keltie Ferris’ paintings, recently shown at Sunday gallery, but figured the more the merrier, and invited the ladies from a women’s art collective I am part of. One thing leads to another and wham bam, I’ve got 16 guests. Something about this number got me quite pumped and excited as I’ve never cooked for so many people, let alone so many artists/friends/acquaintance types, and just couldn’t friggin wait to menu plan, move furniture and cook up a raging storm.
Menu planning: I searched all over tastespotting, the hundreds of blogs I subscribe to, a number of magazines I subscribe to, and past recipes I’ve tried. It was an entire day of listmaking, compare and contrasting, phone call tips, and a shitload of imagination. In the end I chose the following recipes:
Spinach and artichoke dip from the November issue of Saveur
Lima bean soup with wild mushrooms and chard from the February issue of Bon Appetit
Two whole roasted chickens rubbed in butter and herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage)
Tagliatelle with braised kale and ricotta from the wednesday chef
Morrocan spiced roasted vegetables from epicurious
Coconut macaroons dipped in chocolate from dlyn
I think the recipes are a good mix of cheesy, hearty, warm, chewy, meaty, vegetably, plus they were simple, not too expensive, and time friendly. Imagine if I were to roast tenderloins for 16? I’d be on the streets. My christmas dinners were a bit too heavy and cheesy and I had to make extra efforts to make sure I didn’t go that route again. Next time though I would like to venture into non continental food such as these and perhaps host a dinner fo traditional japanese food, or indian, or malaysian. hmmm…
So, the results?
I couldn’t believe it went so well. I started at noon thinking I had plenty of time to cook all the recipes, but people started rolling in and I hadn’t even started on the last dish, the pasta, so chain smoking I did and freak out I did. But in the end each dish came out perfectly despite having rushed the chopping, the stirring, the boiling, the roasting, and the mixing. I was sooo relieved and even euphoric that everyone in the room, 16 of them fit just perfectly in my living room, everyone in the room seemed to be very pleased with the meal. I was one happy fella.
Some tweakings I’ve done to the recipes with not so many pictures, I’m a bad documenter:
You can see the almost empty pie plate with the dip at bottom of picture
The dip required all sorts of cheeses which kind of grossed me out and it was a pain in the ass mixing it all in the processor but the spinach and artichoke part were amazing. I bought regular spinach not baby which was fine, and jarred seasoned artichoke which I’m guessing made it a bit more sour and flavorful.
For the soup I didn’t find wild mushrooms so I bought 4 cases of regular mushrooms, they were probably stiffer and more rubbery than if I were to use wild ones. I used about 1 3/4 lb of the lima beans and I think I would like to peel the skin once they are soaked because the skins came off during cooking and that was weird. Swiss chard is so beautiful in its bright green hue and rich red stem but it all faded to a forest green once cooked. I added more mushroom water and regular water than called for, I felt it was too thick.
The chicken was the easiest, just rub butter and herb mix and lemon under the skin and into its cavity hole and juice it up every half an hour. I bought two 7 lbs daddies and manhandled them into the oven and onto the dinner plate. They were amazing if maybe a bit dry. Perhaps I don’t put it in for 1 1/2 hours next time.
The veggie chopping was time consuming but easy.
I think they like it.
This pasta recipe is one my favorites of all time, because kale is one my favorites of all time, the bitter tangyness resides in the neutrality of the pasta and gets even more zany combined with ricotta which is so wet and juicy of a cheese, love it. Boiling past for 16 was not easy, very very heavy in fact. I did forget to add salt so apologies if it was a little bland.
Some swooned over the deliciousness of the coconut macaroons.
As for the guests, half the people didn’t know each other but that really didn’t stop people from chatting while rotating, everyone seemed to be in high spirits and surely the endless supply of wine helped! I was so grateful to have such wonderful group of creative peoples in my home, and I think its safe to say I’ve won their hearts over.
I plan to have these supper club like dinners on a monthly basis, and my plan is to invite 3-4 people and have them bring guests and enjoy a dinner where you will always meet new people, and the next dinner around those 4 guests will be invited and they have to bring 4 guests and just go on to infinitum. Can’t wait.
More pictures on facebook.