I’m really liking the challenge of cooking in a very short period of time on a week night for friends. They make it easier, because they'll pretty much go down whatever path I lead them.
In the beginning when I first moved here and they first met me, I would cook big Saturday night meals - and do the whole thing; appetizers, salad, main, side dishes, dessert, and appropriate wines. But I realized I couldn't be cooking $150 meals for friends on a regular basis – and live within my budget.
We also had a hard time getting together on weekends with our crazy work/travel/relationship schedules - so I revised the format. Now we get together once a month - I supply the main course - and then assign the other parts to them. I’ve learned to choose items I can prep or half-way cook the night before - so that when I get home at 6:30 I just have to finish off dinner. I try really hard to have the table set before I leave for work in the morning so everything is ready to go when they show up around 7:15 that night.
The most recent change is how wine is selected for the evening. After naming a specific varietal, or type, I give a list specific wines they could buy (never more than $15/bottle and usually $10 or less).
This week I made a Roasted Potato and Leek Soup. It was really, really good. I selected an Australian and a Chilaean Riesling to accompany it. Normally I am not a big sweet wine fan - but the good things about the Australian and Chilean's are the style is different than German Rieslings. They were crisp - and slightly acid. Good balance for a soup with lots of cream.
The person who brought appetizers did Sopa Strata wrapped around Provolone, some Klamata Olives and Grape Tomatoes. The salad had artichoke hearts, feta cheese, sunflower seeds, and red onion rings. Our bread was a great Sourdough, and dessert was Gingerbread with Lemon Curd Sauce!
It was a great evening. We caught up on the holiday just past – recent surgeries, job changes, past and future travel plans. All while exclaiming “Wow! This tastes so great!” What better way to spend a week night, eh?
ps: It's going to be SEVEN DEGREES here tonight!! I think getting in the car to go to the gym at five o'clock in the morning ... is going to be .... a challenge!
pps: Two more days and company arrives!!!
ppps: This time next week, I'll be in my hometown. I'm hoping it will be at least 50 degrees warmer ... maybe even 60!