Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mini Dinner Party

While I am usually always up for cooking for a large group, the idea of hosting more than a couple people, especially in my little mousehole-sized apartment, is daunting. So, I throw Mini Dinner Parties. One or two people invited over for good food, good conversation, and some time to just sit and breathe.

Last night (today, as I’m typing this!) was an impromptu dinner party. Stress, combined with some tough decisions for a friend made this the perfect night to sit down and enjoy a meal together. They got to sit back and unwind, and I got to de-stress in my own way by cooking.

I already had some chicken on hand, so that decided the protein. With no real idea of what I was actually going to do with said chicken, I wandered into Whole Foods to see what I could fine. About twenty minutes later, I was armed with tomatoes, mushrooms, an onion, a good-sized hunk of provolone cheese, and a pint of vanilla gelato. I had decided that I was going to make what I was loosely (very loosely!) calling Provolone-Smothered Chicken with a Tomato-Mushroom Caponta. (FYI, if you are dairy-free, this was still quite delicious before the addition of cheese)

Into a saucepan, a little oil with half a diced onion. After that sauteed for a while, I added  chopped tomatoes (seeds and all) and mushrooms, as well as a little balsamic, basil, and a bit of oregano. I cooked this all done and then added it to a baking dish, along with the chicken breasts. The other half of the onion was sliced and laid across the chicken.

Popped it into the over at 375F for 30 minutes. After that, added thick slices of provolone to each piece of chicken and put it back in the over for 10 minutes. This may have been just on this side of too long in the oven, but fortunately my “caponata” seemed to keep the moisture in pretty well.

Served with steamed veggies (cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, summer squash) and a glass of white wine.

Dessert, was supposed to be my simple and homey pièce de résistance. Vanilla gelato (store bought, thanks) with a [insert fanfare sound effect here] homemade blueberry syrup. The things I failed to consider when deciding to make homemade blueberry syrup: 1) I don’t have a strainer (which I eventually found out would’ve been a good idea) and 2) I don’t have the faintest clue how to make syrup. I mean, I have a vague inkling, but apparently not that clear of an idea. So, yeah. That’s going to be something I need to research. I ended up just going to town on them with my immersion blender and then trying to strain them. “Trying to” because the only strainer I own is a little tiny one for a teapot. It didn’t work. So, we just have a kind of thick, slightly grainy blueberry sauce to go over our gelato. Meh, it worked and it still tasted great!

All told, it was a moderate success and I even have just enough leftovers for lunch today.

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