So last night my mother hosted a dinner party for The Arbour’s favorite antique dealer. Here is part two of yesterday’s post – pictures and recipes!
The table setting: white tulips, blue and white jars, and the guest of honor’s party favor (an antique mercury vase with orange ranunculus). The jars were moved off of the table and onto the tansu for dinner.
First on the menu was champagne and antipasti served on a beautiful Terrafirma platter with a staghorn knife and small fork. For the antipasti, I keep it simple and go to the olive bar at QFC or Whole Foods and pick out what I’m in the mood for. Last night it was mixed olives, roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic, and artichoke hearts – a classic combination. Served with crispy crackers and a wedge of pecorino romano, it was the perfect start to the dinner. Make sure you have a small bowl near the platter so guests can discreetly discard of their olive pits.
While guests were chatting in the living room and finishing their glasses of champagne, I tossed and served the salad, so when they sat down there was food on the table. I have found this can get people to the table faster since the thought of food is incentive. This wasn’t so important this time, since it was a salad, but if it’s a hot course as a courtesy to the cook, get to the table and take a seat! On the menu for this course was Arugula, Blood Orange, Shaved Fennel and Pecorino Salad.
I ate quickly so while guests were finishing up, I finished the pasta. Known as Triple P, this pasta dish is light, refreshing. It really is amazing and great for a crowd.
I make the pasta recipe up to the point of adding the pasta before the guests arrive. Then I turn the heat to low and put the lid on the pan. Prep the finishing ingredients, as well, and keep them neatly put aside on a cutting board by the stovetop.
And here is the birthday girl! A friend brought a coconut cake for dessert – it was absolutely delicious and better than anything I can make. I love to cook, but I’m not a baker. I usually serve ice cream for dessert since it’s easy and everyone loves ice cream. We had a great time to say the least!
Arugula, Blood Orange and Fennel Salad
2 tsp. minced shallots
4 blood oranges (I couldn’t find any, so I substituted Cara Cara oranges)
2-1/2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt; more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
5-7 oz. baby arugula (6 to 7 cups)
1 sm. fennel bulb
Pecorino romano, shaved with a vegetable peeler to yield about 1/2 cup
Put the shallots in a small bowl. Squeeze one of the blood oranges to get 2 tablespoons of juice. Add the juice and the vinegar to the shallots. Season the mixture with the salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Let sit for 10 min. and then whisk in the olive oil. Reserve the vinaigrette at room temperature until ready to use.
Clean and wash the arugula if necessary (I just get a big container of baby arugula pre-washed and cleaned). Put in the salad bowl, cover with a damp paper towel and keep in the fridge until ready to toss the salad.
With a sharp knife, clean off the skin and white pith of the oranges and segment. This video does a really good job at teaching this basic skill: How To Segment an Orange. Place in a bowl and set aside.
Trim the ends and stalks off of the fennel bulb. Cut in half and remove the core by making a V incision. Slice very thin strips along the long side. You don’t want crescents, but long skinny strips.
Add to the fennel to the arugula and toss. Whisk the vinaigrette to recombine. Add the vinaigrette to the arugula and fennel and toss again (you might not need all of the dressing so start with half and keep adding more as needed). Season with salt and pepper. Add the blood oranges and toss gently. Divide among salad plates and distribute the pecorino shavings over the top of each salad.
Triple P Pasta
1 pound small shaped pasta
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
10 slices bacon or pancetta, cut into short, thin slices
2 cups frozen peas
2 heaping tbsp creme fraiche
small bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped
salt and pepper
juice of 1 lemon
6 oz. Parmesan cheese
In a large, high-sided pan, melt the butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Toss the bacon into the pan with some pepper and cook until crispy and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the peas to the pan, stirring to combine. Give the peas a minute or two to defrost, then add the creme friache. Stir until the creme friache has melted and coated everything nicely. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. Drain the pasta and add it directly to the sauce pan. Pour the lemon juice over the pasta and stir everything to combine well, making sure the sauce coats each piece of pasta nicely. Finally, mix in the Parmesan cheese and mint. Add some of the cooking liquid to thin out the sauce if desired (I reserved a cup and ended up using all of it, but this may vary).