Tonight's dinner party was a success—it only took one afternoon (yesterday) of slightly neglecting my children to pull it off. Because I got so much done yesterday, I was able to relax today, play with the kids, and still get dinner finished more or less on time. More or less, because I was cooking the rice outside on my bbq burner (to avoid heating my house during this September heat wave), forgot about it, and burned it beyond recognition. I feel terrible, not just for the wasted food, but because I really did a number on the 40-year-old Le Creuset pot that was a wedding gift to my parents. I currently have it soaking in vinegar and baking soda. If anyone has any suggestions for cleaning a pot covered in burned-on brown rice, please let me know!
Because it was brown rice, it took another 45 minutes to cook, so dinner would have been ready before 6:00 (which is perfect for a family with young kids), but instead it was done sometime after 6:00. This menu was especially satisfying because it was full of ingredients that came from local gardens: yellow squash, cucumber, corn, fava beans, basil, lovage and parsley. So fresh and healthy—not to mention delicious!
Here's the menu:
Crispy-skinned salmon with salsa verde rice (previously published on my blog in July)
Fava bean salad with roasted garlic vinaigrette (this was lovely, although I didn't recreate it completely faithfully, because there has been a walnut recall and I couldn't locate any walnuts in the city. It would have been great with walnuts, but even without, it was a fantastic late-summer salad, with what I could scrounge from the fava beans' final gasp in my mom's garden)
Yellow squash and bell pepper torte (I'll post a photo soon—it turned out beautifully. The flavour of this isn't really terribly intense. It truly is just a pretty stack of roasted vegetables. However, I consider it perfect as an homage to fresh, seasonal vegetables. And for that reason, I will grow yellow squash in my garden next year for the chance to make it again.)
Sorbetto di Uva (Concord grape sorbet) (For anyone wondering what to do with their overabundance of hardy grapes, I strongly recommend this recipe. I used Concord grapes, but as I made it, I was thinking about all my friends with grape vines here in Saskatoon. You may have to up the sugar content a bit, but I'm sure the result with local grapes would be amazing. Just grapes and sugar, pureed, strained and frozen. Even grapes with seeds would work. Cool, velvety heaven!)
If I do say so myself (and I do), this menu was a fitting use of my new kitchen, and a fitting 'thank-you' to the friend who acted as my design sounding board during the long and painful decision-making and planning process.