birthday party menu of favorites: outstanding green beans
My mother-in-law gave me a quick call this morning to tell me just how delicious everything was at the birthday party we hosted in her honor yesterday. Greg and I worked on the meal together and the clean-up and while we were happily settled in off our feet last night watching his favorite, "Celebrity Apprentice" we both remarked how much fun the evening had been. That's why I cook. It's really how I best share love and friendship. It's its own satisfaction to watch everyone enjoying a meal and the conversation. We are grateful to have our lovely home to open up to the family we were born into and the family we choose (i.e. friends). And I am grateful to be able to return the favor to my mother-in-law who modeled my love of entertaining through years of tailgates, brunches, dinners and parties. The whole thing just makes me happy.
So, just what was on the menu Sunday evening? It was a dinner of favorites since there were fourteen people to please. For social hour we served pomegranate martinis, guacamole with really spicy jalapeno tortilla chips (that's a link so you can see the brand), Manchego cheese (Spanish hard cheese like Parmesan, made from sheep's milk which I totally did not know until I looked it up just now; nice and salty and easy to cut a sliver and you guessed it, easily bought at Costco) with grapes, Costco mesquite chicken wings (fabulous, why reinvent the wheel? buy them in their deli case and reheat in your oven) and crudités (also known as a vegetable tray from Costco). My 10-year old nieces have mad fruit skewer skills so they made a lovely tray of them for their grandmother, although I think all the nieces and nephews ate most of them. Or was it me??
|finally took a photo of the grilling turkey breast|
Just in case anyone was still hungry we served a nice big grilled turkey breast, sun-dried tomatoes and feta pasta salad (that one really moved up the favorites list this weekend), many pounds of green beans that disappeared and a big flat cheese bread (again, Costco). We lingered at the dining table a very long time over family stories, more martinis and wine. For dessert I had to make my creme brûlée cheesecake after The Indianapolis Star published it last month. My claim to fame. Bob and Tammy came over Saturday night with the blow torch and an extra cylinder of gas just in case we needed it to caramelize the sugar. They put their name in for leftovers, but that cheesecake is too good for leftovers. I think I'm just going to have to make them their own sometime. That or buy a blow torch of our own, but that's silly.
Everything I made has been posted on this blog over the past two years with the exception of some really outstanding green beans. So here's a little "recipe" for you and a link to Fine Cooking's recipe for Simply Delicious Green Beans . I found big two pound bags of trimmed green beans at Meijer last week. I like them better than the haricots vert from Costco. I usually buy fresh green beans by the pound and trim them myself, but doing that for four people is one thing and for fourteen people it's another (read insane) thing. If you have an Ina Garten cookbook or if you're a Martha Stewart fan you've seen "good" olive oil as an ingredient before. Splurge some time and buy an expensive olive oil. Maybe from some place that let's you taste them. Find one you love that's lighter or richer or fruitier than the kind you cook with and enjoy it. I like Lucini Italia Extra Virgin Light Olive Oil and buy it at Meijer or Super Target. It's not that exclusive, but to me it's just right for dipping in fresh bread or tossing with vegetables or pasta before serving. I use the big bottles of Kirkland Select from, where else, Costco for cooking, roasting and grilling. Just like different olive oils, different salts add special twists to your cooking. They are everywhere now. Experiment with them and find something new!
Outstanding Green Beans for a Party
3 pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed
2 to 3 T of good olive oil
1 tsp some fancy sea salt (I used pink Himalayan from Trader Joe's)
Boil a big pot of water. Add the green beans and cook about 5 minutes until tender, but still a little crisp. Drain and toss while hot with olive oil and salt to taste. It's a party, be generous with the olive oil and taste for salt and add more if needed!