Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dinner guests

One of the lesser-known drawbacks to being in life limbo is a dearth of people to cook for. In some ways this is for the best, given the corresponding lack of cooking utensils, but that doesn’t make it any easier to adjust to. I read other people’s blogs where they describe cooking up vats of goodies to feed family, friends, neighbors, school groups, and random passersby, and honestly, I feel a little envious. I’ve been bringing homebaked treats to every event I’ve been invited to (adhering to Sparkly Em’s philosophy of “Make friends through cake”), but Miss B’s preschool doesn’t allow homemade food to be brought in (WTH?) and we don’t have enough chairs—or plates—in our serviced apartment to have more than one dinner guest at a time.

Well, last week DP had a three-day conference at work and invited not one but two out-of-towners for dinner—not together, given the aforementioned chairs problem, but on successive nights. As you can imagine, I was all a-dither. What to make? Should I serve sit-down appetizers, or some dip and crackers? Would I be able to rustle up enough serving dishes? What could I come up with for dessert that could be made ahead, cooked on a baking sheet, not involve fruit (a whole nother story), and still be company-worthy?

Is it clear by now that I am out of practice at handling this sort of thing with aplomb? Especially since the invitation was billed as a regular family dinner, nothing fancy, so I didn’t want to go completely over the top and overwhelm anyone, including myself.

I think I managed to find the balance in the end. And perhaps the most important thing: I remembered that we don’t have a corkscrew (actually, we have three, but…you know the rest), and bought screw-top wine.

And served it in coffee cups. We really know how to do things swanky ‘round these parts.

Feta salsa dip
Adapted from smitten kitchen
I came across versions of this recipe twice in two days, which I took as a sign to make some. It does not require a food processor, and in fact is intentionally chunky, which I almost always think is a good thing. It is delicious and any leftovers make a great lunch or hearty snack.

1 package (7 oz/210 g) feta cheese (any kind)
2/3 cup raw, roasted, or sun-dried tomatoes, or a combination
½ cup olives
2 scallions
3-4 basil leaves
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper

Chop the feta into a medium-sized bowl, followed by the tomatoes. Pit the olives, if necessary, by squashing them under a coffee mug, then chop and add. Slice the scallions, chop the basil, and add. Drizzle with oil and vinegar and stir to combine, mashing the ingredients together a bit. Season with freshly ground pepper and salt, if necessary (although the feta may be salty enough).

Serve with crackers or other sturdy, crunchy dip-carrier of your choice.

Makes about 2.5 cups.


Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Miss B’s preschool doesn’t allow homemade food to be brought in? That's crazy talk! What do they eat?

Delicious salsa - one that would make any day (or dinner party) brighter and better, I reckon!

xo Francesca

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

They cook food on the premises every day, which is mostly pretty good, and is exposing her to new things. But I can't get past the idea that they would rather I bought cookies at Wal-Mart than bake from scratch!

Still eating the salsa leftovers--might be my new favorite lunch!

Sparkly Em said... Best Blogger Tips

why dont you plan a playdate in the park? invite a few kids to play with Miss B, and make cake and stuff for a picnic with their mommies?

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh Em, you are so clever! You always have the best ideas on how I can ply people with food. Maybe now that the biblical downpours have stopped, I will just do that!

Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial said... Best Blogger Tips

Nancy, do you soak the feta first to remove salt, or are you using the stuff already packed in oil? Brined feta is so salty, we always have to soak it in water for a day first, and even then it's still plenty salty enough. Recipe sounds very appealing, will have to try it with our marinated feta - will that work?

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Celia, I must have a high salt tolerance--the most I do to feta (if that) is rinse it off! I think marinated feta would be wonderful in this recipe, the liquid will help bring everything together and you probably won't need much of the oil.

Sparkly Em said... Best Blogger Tips

IN the words of Reggie Perrins boss...i didnt get where i am today.....

without having loads of ideas about how to sneak food into every day non food related situations. you, of all people should know that :-)

Did i mention the deconstructed chocolate truffles????

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Yes, but don't you need a fridge handy for those? Also a lot of spoons?

I bow to the master!

Sparkly Em said... Best Blogger Tips

yes you need a spoon. Wasnt thinking about them for picnics..more as an self indulgent fridge treat :-)

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Good...not sure I would share anyway!

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