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Anatomy of a Dinner Party

I am hosting an "over-the-top" dinner party in 9 days. Of course the planning has begun!

Step 1:
Plan menu and get organized! "Get organized" means a timeline, knowing what plates, glasses and serving pieces will be used for each course, and deciding on linens and flowers. Make shopping lists and start cooking!

Upon arrival:
mini caprese on toothpicks (tiny mozzarella balls, grape tomatoes, basil)

Appetizer Course (Antipasti): 3 on a rectangular white plate
fig stuffed with gorgonzola and candied pecan, drizzled with honey
small square of sformato (parmesan flan) in a pool of pesto with shaved grana padano
small slice of melon with prosciutto

fennel, orange, red onion, spinach salad with citrus vinegarette

Primi Piatti:
individual ramekins of crab-gruyere lasagna

Sorbetto: (Palate Cleanser)
Thyme-honey sorbetto served in scooped out frozen lemons

Secondi Piatti:
Pork roast stuffed with gorgonzola and fresh figs
Creamy polenta
Honey-glazed carrots

4-layer torta with caramel marscapone buttercream and almond toffee crunch
Salt-caramel gelato

I used a combination of "tried and true" recipes (taralli, figs, sformato, crab lasagna, salad, polenta and carrots) and new ones (sorbetto, stuffing the pork roast, the cake, and the gelato).

Step 2:
I decided to make a sample of the frozen lemons with sorbetto for two reasons. Brad did a great job of scooping out 4 lemons on Friday, and I want to know how long they can sit in the freezer, so I can make more before leaving town next Friday if they will last four days. I also wanted to taste the sorbetto. It is REALLY delicious and refreshing!


Thyme Sorbetto (from Italian Cooking and Living, Aug. 2007)

4 large lemons
2/3 c. powdered sugar
1 large bunch of thyme (plus extra for garnishing)
3 T. honey

Cut ends off lemons, and scoop out pulp leaving 4 shells. Put lemon shells into the freezer. Juice the remaining pulp and set aside. In a saucepan, combine 2 1/2 cups of water, sugar and thyme. Boil for 3 minutes, then remove and discard thyme. Remove syrup from heat, and stir in the juice from the lemons and the honey. Chill until mixture is cool. Pour into ice cream machine and follow manufacturer's directions.
When sorbet is done, fill shells and return them to the freezer. (There will be a little leftover. This recipe would fill a total 6 lemons.) Remove lemons 10 minutes before serving and garnish with thyme sprig.

Step 3:
Since we will be out of town next weekend, I will only have Sunday evening to begin my prep. I began this past Saturday by buying the ingredients for the crab lasagna, ordering the pork roast from my butcher, and fresh figs from my produce guy. Sunday, we made fresh pasta and assembled and froze the lasagnas.



Step 4:
Start shopping! When we return from San Diego on Sunday afternoon, I will drop Brad off at the airport for a business trip. That means I will be without my sous chef, helper and schleppopotomus for the dinner! He already did all the tasks I asked for: cleaning patio furniture, and helping me carry home all the wine, water, etc.. One of my friends who will be attending the dinner has volunteered to help with serving, clearing, and wine pouring on the night of the event. This is a business dinner, and the date couldn't be changed to accomodate Brad's scheduled trip.

Stay tuned for the rest of the preparations!

Comments (9)

Barb Cabot:

As always you are jaw dropping amazing!

Sounds absolutely wonderful! I also wanted to tell you that I made the rolls you posted about (Judith's)-made them round and used them for pulled pork sandwiches-delicious-a great recipe.


SOoooo? what time should I be there?! ;-) just kidding


I'll be tuned in, Palma, and enjoy a virtually delicious-looking meal already.


I have said this to you before, when I grow up (this may be too late now, so...) or in my next life, I want to be just like you, Palma! :) Like Barb said you are AMAZING!


Wow -- that's an amazing plan. And you'll be doing it all sans schleppopotomus (I love that word!) Bravo, Palma. You are so experienced in the kitchen that I know it will go well. I look forward to the pictures (and any leftovers?)

But how are the plans for the GTG coming along? LOL

Palma, Don't forget to take pictures before you let your guests lift their forks!


WOW! What a lovely meal--you are clearly a very generous hostess. I'm new to this site--is there a way to get the recipe for your parmesan flan? I have enjoyed a fantastic one at a restaurant in New York, but they won't share the recipe. I guess Mario wants to save it for his next book...
Many thanks--I'm enjoying living vicariously through your words!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 4, 2008 7:13 AM.

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