Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Family Dinner Party

We don't do it often enough, but last Saturday we had friends over for dinner.  I used a cookbook Mom gave me for Christmas last year (Perfect Party Food) to plan most of the menu.  I was looking for something that picky kids (shocker) and adults would enjoy.  The result -- success, I think.  As is my practice with this group, I fixed dinner and then drank a lot of wine and enjoyed the company.  Way too much chicken, but better to have too much food I think.  Here's what I served:

Provencal Breaded Chicken Cutlets
Oven Roasted Caponata
White Beans Provencal
Pumpkin Praline Torte (without the nuts this time; food allergies)

For appetizers I made:
Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Parmesan Salsa

Breaded Chicken Cutlets
4 large eggs
2 T. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. black pepper
12 boneless chicken breasts (tenders removed)
4 c. plain bread crumbs
1 1/2 t. thyme
1/2 t. sage
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 c. olive oil

1. In large bowl, beat together the eggs, mustard, salt and pepper until blended
2. Place chicken betweenpieces of waxed paper or plastic wrap and, using a meat mallet, or rolling pin, pound to a uniform thickness, about 1/4 inch.  Add to the egg mixture, tossing to coat
3. In shallow dish combine the bread crumbs and spices, until blended
4. Dredge each chicken breast in the crumb mixture turning to coat evenly. Lay the dipped checkin on a rimmmed baking sheet lined with paper towels
At this point cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours (helps bread crumbs stick)
5. In large skillet (I used my electric skillet), heat butter and oil until butter is melted.  Add the cutlets a few at a time, taking care not to cowd them.  Cook until golden, about 3 minutes and turn, cook until the other side is golden.

4 qt. water or broth
2 t. salt
One pound orzo
2 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. unsalted butter melted
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring the water and salt to a boil, (if you use broth, omit the salt) Add the orzo and boil until tender 8-9 minutes.
2. Drain, toss with olive oil to prevent sticking, season with salt and pepper.
3. Combine melted butter, cream and Parmesan in the serving bowl
4. Add hot orzo and toss to combine.

Oven Roasted Caponata
2 medium sized eggplants -- ends trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
1/4 c. olive oil
6 cloves garlic
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped celery
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2T. balsamic vinegar
2T. brown sugar
One 15.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 c. drained and chopped pitted green olives
1/4 c. drained and chopped capers
1/2 c. chopped fresh Italian parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil
2. Drizzle cut sides of eggplant with a little olive oil, and lay, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Place the garlic on the baking sheet and drizzle with some of the oil, reserving the remainder for the next step. Bake the garlic and eggplant until the eggplant is tender, 25 to 30 minutes, a knife should pierce the skin easily, with no resistance.  Remvoe from the oven and allow to cools.  Then peel off the skin of the eggplant and coarsely chop the flesh.
3. In a large skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat and add the eggplant. Squeeze the garlic from its skin into the skillet and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes, tossing to coat with the oil.  Add the onion, celery, salt, black pepper and red papper flakes and cook, stirring, until the onion and celery begin to soften a bit, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the balsamic vinegar, sugar, tomatoes, and simmer the mixture for 20 minutes, stirring occassionally.
4. Remove from heat and stir in the olives, capers, and parsley. Allow the caponata to cool to room temperature, then taste and adjust seasonings.

White Beans Provencal
1T. olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic finely chopped
2 c. canned white beans, rinsed and drained
1 ripe tomato cored and cut into small cubes
1 t. thyme
1/2 t. dried rosemary
Salt and pepper
2T. dry white wine

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over moderate heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent browning. Add the beans, tomato, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper and white wine. Simmer for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip
2 jars marinated artichoke hearts (chopped)
1 package frozen chopped spinach thawed and squeezed
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. mayonnaise
3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together, place in small, shallow baking dish, Bake for 25-30 minutes.

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