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A Terrific, Nibbly Party Menu for Your Next Open House

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We recently threw a little shindig at our house. It was kind of a house warming but mostly it was just time to throw a party. I mean, we moved in almost a year ago and have been madly sourcing more furniture and hanging artwork (we upsized…I know. WHO DOES THAT?), working in the yard (we REALLY upsized the yard!) and making good on all the travel we’d planned before we moved into a big ol’ house. So maybe it was past time that we threw a party!

Anyway, we had about 85 people over and I cooked for days, or maybe it was a week. Either way, the point is we had a fabulous time and enjoyed ourselves so much and the food was enough of a success that there are folks who want recipes. Which I am so happy to share! So, I thought I’d just write a quick post with links to the base recipes and notes on the tweaks I use to take said recipes from good to great (there is, seriously, an entire blog post topic right there, so stay tuned for more on that!).

We tried to make sure that we had all the bases covered with the menu so there would be something for everyone — veg-y people, meat-y people, cheese-y people, gluten-free people. ALL the people. And so, the decision was made to have platters of things (by which I mean to say cutting boards, because I almost always use a bunch of cutting boards to set out the food at a party) like meats and cheese and veggies with dip along with baskets of sliced baguette and crackers (with AND without gluten, of course!). Which is also, note to self, a smart set-up for the hostess who wants to do more than just slave in the kitchen for the whole party!

Ready? Here we go…


Cutting Board One — Meat-y Things

Served with cornichons and lots of Dijon mustard (my fav is Edmond Fallot)

Pork Rillettes
Recipe: by David Lebovitz (I know I’ve already written about this Rillettes recipe, but it is such a winner that I think I’ll be making it for every party until…well, until there are no more parties).
Tweaks: NOPE. None. Not even a one. So good just as it is!

Lentil Walnut Pâté
Recipe: (originally) by Dr Andrew Weil, though this links to a ‘reprint’ on an ‘All Things Walnut’ website (and I must say, DO NOT underestimate this gem of a recipe…it may be vegan but it is a winner with everyone who has ever tried it, including diehard carnivores!).
Tweaks: 1) Use Puy lentils (also known as French green lentils) instead of plain lentils; 2) Toast the walnuts in the oven at 350° for about 10 minutes before you chop them up; and 3) Be overly generous with the Dijon and the red wine vinegar and salt and pepper — you want to taste all that seasoning!


Cutting Board Two — CHEESE!!

A couple of nice cheeses on one side with a glorious Baked Brie en Croûte on the other. Served with a mass of grapes…we found the most beautiful black grapes at Costco (of all places!) and they set off the cheeses quite nicely.


Cutting Board Three — Crudités & Dips

In an effort to keep it simple, I used green beans (blanched in water as salty as the sea for 4 minutes and then cooled on towels), heirloom baby tomatoes (I may have had a few leftover, which I turned into an amazing pasta dish a few nights later!) easter radishes (so pretty!) and rainbow baby carrots. Served with a bold, herby White Bean Dip (again, thank you David Lebovitz!) and a tangy Thousand Islands Dressing which is a gorgeous Saveur recipe that has earned a place in my secret arsenal of all things bullet-proof.


And because my fella can’t live without Chips and Dip, I whipped up a batch of this French Onion Dip from Bon Appetit and (tweak alert!) tweaked it (just a little!) by sautéing an extra finely chopped shallot (in addition to the raw chopped shallot called for in the recipe) with a few sprigs of thyme until carmelized (at which point I pulled out the thyme sprigs) and then stirring it in with a little extra lemon juice prior to serving with a big bowl of potato chips. YUM!

Last but not least, cookies. Said fella is a big baker and in our house, it’s a toss up as to which cookies are the best…so he makes the kind I like AND the kind he likes. So everyone wins! His favorite is this Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from the New York Times and mine is this Cranberry & White Chocolate Cookie recipe from his mother, Alice share with us by his sister, Heather. You really can’t go wrong with either, and the smart people usually have some of each which I feel is a very fine policy.

Plus, you know, we had sparkling water and wine and gin and vodka (with mixers) and rye whiskey (without!) and friends who brought wine like Tom and Lorrie Wilson from their award-winning Château NoElle Vineyards & Winery and all the other fabulous folks who contributed wine or booze and good cheer and took the time to come on over to sit a spell and share stories with one another.

Which is, as far as I know, the secret to a really good party…it’s the people you know who come and make it wonderful. And on that count we feel very lucky indeed.

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12 Comments on "A Terrific, Nibbly Party Menu for Your Next Open House"

  • Mike Pritchard says

    That was a Great party! You guys rock!

    • Darlin Gray says

      Thank you, Mike!! So pleased you could come.

  • Katherine says

    I was very sorry to miss this soiree. Heard from Tim and Ben that it was fabulous and was directed to get that Cranberry White Chocolate Chip cookie recipe! Reading the through all the delicious offerings, I’m a huge David Leibovitz fan, it was clear a delicious time was had by all. Now that the house is all warmed up, you’ll have to hold an anniversary event!

    • Darlin Gray says

      You were missed, Katherine, and your family did a fine job representing! Those cookies are crack, I must warn you. In the best possible way!

  • jamee dunn says

    why does eating and drinking make me unpretty? I love this Darlin!!!!!! I am in love with food and beverage.. it’s fabulous and your title is so “in the mood”.. xoxo

    • Darlin Gray says

      Thank you, Jamee! I think food and beverage is in love with you, too. 😉 Can’t think of anything better than eating, drinking and prettying…especially with you!

  • Michelle Goerdel says

    It sounds like it was a lovely and tasty party but since it’s you I would expect no less! I’m glad the house is coming together- it’s always a much longer and more fraught process than one assumes. I’m glad we’re done with our downsizing- I don’t want to even think about doing anything else to the new house for at least a year (although since we’re gone 6 months of the year it’s not as long as I think.) Hugs to you both!

    • Darlin Gray says

      Glad to hear you’re feeling a little settled in the new place, Michelle! We are too, but definitely have a bit more work ahead of us. And it was indeed a tasty party…we’re almost recuperated from it, too! 😉

  • Delicious food, great people, fine wine – thanks for working all week to produce this great feast! And Bunji enjoyed running in your yard.

    • Darlin Gray says

      Gary, we are lucky to have such wonderful people (and their dogs!!) in our lives. 🙂

  • Leanne says

    It was a fine afternoon – I will attest. I always find your guests/friends so engaging and fascinating. Not to mention the fabulous atmosphere – food, wine, furniture. Definitely going to run with a couple of these recipes and thanks for sharing. (Hope you won’t be surprise if you see your menu at our next gathering.)

    • Darlin Gray says

      You are one of those engaging and fascinating guests yourself, Leanne! And seems like my recipes at your next gathering would be the best possible compliment!! Let me know if I can help cook… 😉

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