Dinner Party

Sunday, we said goodbye to summer and welcomed fall by hosting our last alfresco dinner party.

After looking at my friend Giff's dinner from the Constable's Larder, I may as well hang up my apron! But I will post it anyway, because it really was delicious!


~ Duck Rillettes (smuggled in from France in luggage) w/ warm baguette & chutney

~ Grilled Asparagus over Speck with a Mustard Cream Sauce
~ Mustard Chicken Legs
~ Orzo with Currants, Cornichons & Feta in a Lemon Dressing

~ Chateau Neuf du Pape 2005
~ 2003 Bordeaux

~ Chocolate Orange Cupcakes w/ Rosemary

I like to spend time with my dinner guests & not at the stove, so I always make dishes that can be done ahead of time and served at room temperature. The main dish is always done in the oven. I assemble my salads ahead of time, so I just have to toss w/ dressing before serving. Makes my life easier.

I love this cookbook REAL LIFE ENTERTAINING by Jennifer Rubell. The book has some great, simple recipes, and all them have turned out great.

I made this interesting orzo salad and the mustard chicken legs, both from this book.
The orzo was delicious, very sophisticated, and an interesting, if not strange combination of flavors. Adding chopped cornichon pickles to the sweet, tiny Zante currants along with the intense salty feta was simple and was a big hit.

I also made Jennifer Rubell's chicken legs with mustard. VERY simple. Place all of your chicken legs (thighs and drumsticks) on a baking sheet, and pour the sauce over the legs and throw fresh thyme sprigs on top. How hard can that be?
The sauce consists of 3 chopped shallots, 1 cup of good dijon mustard, 1 cup of grainy mustard, some olive oil & 1/2 cup of white wine (you know I don't measure), 15 sprigs of fresh thyme, kosher salt & pepper. Bake at 375 for one hour. You can walk away without even checking on it! I finished 2 glasses of wine while the chicken was roasting.
Remove it from the oven and place in a nice serving dish and pour sauce over. It will make a crispy, delicious skin.

The only dish I prepared while everyone was drinking, was the asparagus. Inspired by Sunday Suppers at Lucques, another great cookbook, by Suzanne Goin.
Suzanne's recipes are very time consuming with a lot of ingredients. I have simplified this recipe to fit my life and I make it often!

Grilled Asparagus w/ Mustard Cream Sauce (inspired by Sunday Suppers at Lucques):

~ 2 bunches of asparagus, woody stems removed
~ 1 package of the BEST prosciutto or speck ham you can buy
~ kosher salt & olive oil for grilling the asparagus

Mustard Cream Sauce:

~ 2 tbsp of good dijon mustard
~ 6 tbsp of heavy cream or half & half
~ freshly ground pepper

whisk all ingredients in pitcher with a fork.

Drape prosciutto slices on a pretty platter.
Drizzle a bit of olive oil and kosher salt on asparagus spears and grill on medium heat for about 15 minutes.
Place grilled asparagus on top of ham, and drizzle mustard cream sauce on top before serving!


kat said…
It looks like a beautiful meal, I'm sure your guests were thrilled.
Giff said…
Hang up your apron pshaw! This meal sounds perfect -- good food, good wine, good company (that you actually can enjoy), I mean really what could be better?

I've wrapped asparagus in prosciutto and grilled it before, but never thought to combine with a mustard sauce. I *really* like that idea.

Glad your contraband duck was put to good use! do you have a photo?
Linda said…
The food all looks YUMMY!!!I wonder if "THE DUCK" knows how famous it is!!! As for saying goodbye to summer, we are not allowed to do that in this house apparently!! My beloved is still swimming!! Polar bear plunging!!! Don't worry, I have 911 on speed dial!! and the WINE warms him up!!! That gorgeous chicken might help too!!!
rcoda said…
Looks like a great meal, Stacey.

I feel bad for you, though... our al fresco season is just starting here in Scottsdale... and it will last until May!
Maria said…
What a fun party! The food looks amazing!
I have to say that chicken got me!So different and looks terrific!!
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