I recently did a dinner party for six guests, that included a chef, several foodies and an artistic gentleman that appreciated presentation. Mind you, I am not one to brag, but I wanted to share with you the menu, which was Mediterranean in influence, and the results…read for yourself.

My client writes:
“I speak for all of us….
Last evening my 5 guests and I feasted upon the following culinary delights prepared and presented in our own home and served with the utmost of tasteful, timely and most attractive of presentation upon our own dinner table in our home in Hull.
Here is the menu we selected from several suggested by Chef Laura MacDougall of Home Plate Advantage.

Anchovy and Piquillo Pepper Bruschetta
RitzCarlton chef Emmanuel Kemji’s Mediterranean inspired appetizer.
THIS WAS PREPARED AND PRESENTED as two warmed slightly crisped slices of fresh small loaf slightly wheat bread topped with white anchovy and mildly spicy and quite interestedly seasoned soft as silk delicately spindled slices of Piquillo Red Peppers. NEVER HAVE I ENJOYED AN appetizer with such heightened relish and culinary joy as did I experience upon viewing and tasting this very first course of this very special evening.

Mediterranean Fresh Fish
Baked fresh Fish covered with a topping of Black olives, Artichoke Hearts, Feta, and Tomato flavored with a hint of Garlic, Lemon. THIS COURSE FiLLED OUR PLATES WITH overflowingly luscious looking blends of delicate fall colors. The feta and tomato flavors brimming with garlic and lemon splashes topped on the softest, flakiest, tastiest white cod fillet was delicious and devoured to the tiniest of morsels. The black olives were these tiny little objects filled interesting spicy delights. Artichoke is never a favorite of mine but these were like non others. They were silky and added an unusual hint of texture.

Brown Rice Pilaf with Chickpeas and Sunflower Seeds
THIS SIDE OF MY DINNER PLATE was heaped with soft, crunchy, sparkly and interesting and extremely tasty healthful fibre rich enjoyment.

Pears Poached in Red Wine, Cardamom and Orange
A cardamom- and orange-scented syrup is spooned over warm pears and scoops of vanilla ice cream in this lovely dessert. THIS LAST COURSE PROVIDED THE SURPRISE of the evening. The Pears were of course presented peeled and firm on the outside and softly textured inside topped with freshly scraped orange zest. Pears were floating in a Red Wine sauce and the warm pears and the cold ice cream in combination danced over my tongue and tickled my palette as the final taste defining element in a dinner party to top all.

I REALLY NEED TO ADD THAT AS WE were all half way through our desserts Laura delivered a luscious disc of deeply flavored dark chocolate to each guest. Each wrapped in a gold foil imprinted wrapper. The chocolate introduced a magical heightening of red wines flavors.

WHEN LAURA DEPARTED FOUR HOURS after arriving with all of the ingredients, pots, pans, wrappings … She departed leaving every single dish washed, dried, put away in the cupboard and every spec of trash and kitchen counter and surface spotless. During her preparation except for the flavors that wafted from our kitchen Laura’s presence seemed invisible. Laura served each course with a very brief description of what we were about to ingest. Her presentation, style and skill far surpassed our highest of expectations for this most enjoyable and effortless dinner party.

ONE SMALL DETAIL I NEED TO INCLUDE is that Laura arrived with every element in the middle of the season’s first snow storm raging across the region.”

Gosh, I think I am blushing……Home Plate Advantage – for your next dinner party.

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I did not fall off the turnip truck last week – we were in Philadelphia visiting my mom and jail. Seriously – the Eastern State Penitentiary – very interesting museum. But I want to share that in doing so, we did not get our beloved produce. This week, we were treated to wax beans, beets, carrots, basil, spring onions, potatoes, mini cucumbers (look like gherkins to be) small leafed kale, and several zucchini and yellow squash.

Meal one – we had grilled onions with pink peppercorns next to our pasta tossed with white beans, sage pesto (homemade with fresh sage, orange zest and juice, hazelnut and olive oils, walnuts) and kale. Very Tuscany meets Paris. I forgot how much I love the sweet, delicate peppery flavor of pink peppercorns. Worth a try on leeks, onions of braised fennel, or any white fish if you never had them. It had been a long day of yard work, so I apologize for not taking any photos. (i.e. starved and woofed down this meal before I had a chance to stop and think)
Meal Two – potato salad with peas, yogurt, buttermilk and herbs. I did not have parsley, but opted to use the top of the carrots as a green splash. They actually have a little carrot flavor, and I now know I need to revisit this to use elsewhere. Grilled chicken and sliced tomatoes round out this hot evening dinner on the patio.

Meal Three The delicate little carrots were cooked, then sprinkled with fennel thyme salt (Didi Davis) and served next to leftover chicken from last night and corn on the cob. How seet and tender theys were and delicious with the thyme salt.

Meal four This morning started the beets that will go into Ina Garten’s summer borscht, made with sour cream, yogurt, dill and chicken stock – perfect for the heat that’s coming our way. I picked up our fish (cod today) we get from Cape Ann fish shares and baked the fish with lemon juice, pink salt and a little comet tail pepper, which gave the fish a nice coriander peppery sweetness. I improvised a salad I saw in Food and Wine to use the wax beans, mixing them with tomatoes, chick peas and sliced red pepper tossed with a fresh tarragon mint vinaigrette made with lemon juice, shallot, dijon, mild olive oil and champagne vinegar. Heavenly! A side of lemon thyme biscuits fit perfectly.

Wax beans, tomatoes and chicke peas waiting for dressing

Last meal, grilled zucchini with grated cheese may be in order, next to grilled chicken sausage and poblanos. And perhaps another biscuit! Stay cool, enjoy a salad and grilled veggies to help beat the heat, and be sure to drink plenty of fluids….the adult root beer float in this month’s Food Network magazine is perfect for dessert…..