A couple of weekends ago we had a small dinner party at the house and I chose to keep the menu really simple: pasta bolognese, roasted eggplant and cannelloni beans simmered in rosemary. One of my friends made a truly astonishing cake -- the kind that takes your breath away and the sort that you only see in a bakery, yet she made it all by herself over 5 hours of serious work.
The menu was largely due to some lessons learned from last year's dinner parties. On previous occasions, I'd think, "Oh, Saturday night's dinner is a great excuse to try something a little different and something grander," but the whole "trying a bigger and more elaborate menu" would leave me stressed out through the process and not having a whole lot of fun. It's one thing to try new recipes when you're just serving your family, quite another when you have guests dropping by.
So for 2011 I've vowed to go back to what I know -- making the kinds of meals we eat all the time at the house -- delicious but simple, lacking in fuss.
This is exactly why I could completely relate to Louisa Weiss' post on her blog, The Wednesday Chef, about a very similar experience. She's obviously a far better cook than I will ever be, but the theme is the same. I highly recommend giving it a read.
I also must make note of the recipe she concocted for a recent dinner gathering -- Onion and Chard Panade. Yummmm....just look at that toasted bread and sneak peeks of swiss chard. I wish she could pass me a plate right now.
Read here for the full recipe and enjoy.