Wednesday, September 10, 2008

With A Little Help from my Friends...

One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday is cook and have friends over. Most of you are foodies as well so I am sure you can relate!

This post is a bit belated as this dinner was about a month ago. But time gets in the way of the best laid plans doesn't it. At any rate, we had a couple friend over for dinner one Sunday night in August. My husband is NOT the best eater in the world and I wanted something he would like as it was actually his idea to have guests this time. We hadn't barbecued any steaks in a while so this is where the menu began. Steak! From there I went on to potato as it is an easy pleaser and goes well. Corn is so summery and such a favorite with kids so I had to have that. Now how to make it interesting...

This is where I "try with a little help from my friends" in the food blogging world. I had been thinking of the sauces that Robin Sue from Big Red Kitchen had made to go with her Carne en Palito ever since I read the post. Robin originally got them from Laylita's Recipes. They sounded wonderful and just a little different. I didn't have any skewers here and didn't want to run to the store, plus I wanted the steaks to be whole so my husband would like it better and it would hold more juice in. I decided to add some chicken to the menu for the kids and as I thought the sauces would be great with chicken as well like an appetizer.

The two sauces I chose were those Robin had chosen– Laylita's Balsamic Chimichurri Sauce and her Salsa de Mani which sounded like such a different peanut sauce. And let me tell you, these sauces STOLE the show! They were great. We all particularly loved the Balsamic sauce on the steak. While it seemed just a simple vinaigrette, it was just so flavorful and perfect with the dinner as a whole.

To round out the meal, I prepared green beans in one of my favorite ways. I simply steam fresh french green beans. Meanwhile I caramelize about 1/2 an onion in butter over the stove. When the onion and beans are finished I toss them in a bowl with fresh baby tomatoes, a little olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar along with salt and pepper to taste. I love the combination of the al dente warm beans, sweet and savory onions and the cool crisp raw tomatoes.

In lieu of bread I took out some extra pizza dough that I had (frozen and saved) from this night and rolled it out for focaccia bread. Any pizza dough works great for focaccia. It is so easy. All you have to do is top it with a few herbs and some olive oil! In this case I topped it with olive oil, red onion, tomato, oregano, cilantro and parsley to compliment the sauces I made.

Now, let me not overlook the potatoes I made! These accordion potatoes were inspired by Peter at Kalofagas. They just looked so fun and different despite the simplicity. Okay the ingredients were simple. Just some butter and seasoning. But I did find it a little time consuming to get the butter in every crevice with two little ones running around. That being said, they came out great both visually and to the palette! I did make some modifications to my potatoes. Instead of using the seasoning Peter used, I melted butter and to that added some of the herbs I had chopped for my sauces. In this way I felt it would be a better compliment to the whole meal.

The kids ate outside. The adults ate inside at my new table which has a handy expansion lief tucked conveniently underneath. It is a higher bistro style table and fits just right in it's rectangular form for every day and yet is not too crowded as a large square for nights when guests are over! I really like it.

A special thanks to all my blogging buddies who aided with their recipe ideas. And a special thanks to my family and other friends who helped gobble everything up! It was a lovely evening.

Now stay tuned and let your stomachs digest this a little and I will tell you what I made for dessert! You didn't think I'd forget THAT little detail did you?


That Girl said...

I totally love doing the same things - but Saturday nights. Sunday nights I just want to be on my own.

Peter M said...

Nicole, the spread looks awesome...especially those potatoes! lol

A time saver I read is to place a wooden spoon beside the potato so that when you slice down the knife stops when it hits the wooden spoon. That should speed things up a bit.

Darius T. Williams said...

Looks like such a great meal - and those potatoes - yup!


Kristen said...

Hey there!
I just wanted to let you know that Adopt a Blogger matches are up on my blog.
Thanks for participating :)

deLa said...

i did the potatoes once at the old house, i cut too fat into them a more than one place i thought i would just toothpick the bottoms of them together. all i had was colored toothpick. it kind of tye died the bottoms of the potatoes. hehe

great looking meal!!!

Nicole said...

Kate- I understand wanting to be on your own some nights. Now I just take them when I am lucky enough to get them.

Peter- Thanks! And welcome back. I will try that trick next time. I posted about your Skordalia a while back.
It came out soooooo good. I didn't get a good photo of it though. Busy day.

Darius- It was a very good meal. I definitely recommend the potatoes and the sauces!

Kristen- Thanks! I'll check it out.

Dela- Hi there! Welcome back. I had a few cuts that almost sliced the potato in half as well.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Nicole, What a spread! Everything looks so good! I especially love the way you made your beans. I have to try them that way. Yummm!

Michelle said...

Everything looked so delicious - and it's the type of food my family loves - makes me want to copy it and have my own end of summer party.

Robin Sue said...

Yay! Your dinner looks fabulous! Loved how you kept the steaks whole for you man. Good idea for when time is short too. I can't wait to see what you made for dessert. Thanks for the links!

Nicole said...

Marie- Do try the beans this way. They are so good. I also do something similar with tiny bite-size potatoes.

Michelle- Thank you! Copy away! :-)

Robin Sue- Happy to link! Dessert is "in the oven" so to speak. But you WILL recognize it.

Erin said...

What a great looking meal! I too enjoy a good dinner party on the weekend, when I have all day to slowly get things together. Looks like you are one amazing host!

Zen Chef said...

Hey this all looks great but... how come i wasn't invited for dinner? :-)

Lori Lynn said...

Cute post, great meal.
Love your table Nicole!
And the little guy with the corn is adorable... As kids we wouldn't eat our corn on the corn without those yellow holders!

Nicole said...

Zen- Didn't you get the invitation I sent? I guess you were too busy hob nobbing with the $$ people and gorgeous girls in the Hamptons!

Lori- I know. We HAD to have holders when I was little. Now I just find them a distraction.