Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Last evening we hosted a fund-raising dinner for our local Health Care Society. Once a year they organize a drive called "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?". Islanders host theme dinners in their homes for anywhere from six to a hundred people. It's a great opportunity to meet new people, snoop around some beautiful homes, and have a delicious meal. This year the themes were diverse, from bouillabaisse to country Italian to a cocktail party for 100. We decided to cook a dinner entirely from the wood-fired oven and hosted eleven people who all paid $30 (a bargain, really).

I tried to keep the meal as local as possible - a challenge in this season - but managed to find some greenhouse grown eggplants and peppers for a Sicilian caponata to kick off the antipasto course.

I scrounged a few radishes in the garden that hadn't been nibbled by the pill bugs. I made fresh ricotta cheese and flavored it with green garlic and fresh herbs. Oyama Meats on Granville Island provided the prosciutto and salami and some purchased olives rounded out the offerings. I served them with focaccia, bread, and bread sticks that I'd baked the day before.

It was our first time cooking a multi-course meal like this in the oven for guests (and paying guests at that!) so we were a little worried about timing and fluctuating oven temperatures but except for the tart that needed a few minutes of extra browning in the kitchen oven everything came out perfectly.

I marinated the chicken in olive oil, garlic, white wine, and rosemary and roasted it with lemon slices and rosemary sprigs tucked into the gaps. It was moist and delicious and slightly smoky from the live fire.

I found a recipe for stuffed tomatoes (the big hit of the evening) in Viana La Place's Verdura. They were stuffed with a mixture of Parmesan, breadcrumbs, eggs and herbs. The asparagus was simple, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper.

A warm bread salad loosely based on Cafe Zuni's accompanied the chicken. The arugula came from the garden.

The tart was made with a butter crust, pears, cinnamon, cardamom, and a few tablespoons of sugar. I served it with homemade chocolate gelato.

Everyone had a wonderful time, including us. I'm already planning next year's meal.


NelsonNYC said...

Everything looks fabulous Lynn. The chicken must have been divine--smoky flavour--yum. Linda