Sunday, October 3, 2010

Golden Delicious Dinner Party

Grab your party dress! It's time to celebrate with a fancy dinner party! Gold is the elemental theme that flows through this precious meal and binds it together. From golden local honey and golden beets to sunny-yellow lemons, every taste of this meal was bright and bold.

We invited our friends Ian and Isabella over. Known to be picky eaters, I asked their super-cool mom, Maria what they liked to eat. Popcorn shrimp, olives, feta cheese, pasta, tomatoes, honey, apples and lemons all came up in the conversation. We can work with that! 

Me: What is gold?
Lillie: I know that! Its really bright yellow with lots of different colors mixed in!

I decided to take these familiar ingredients and combine them out of context in a kid-friendly way. Hopefully, our guests will take a leap of faith and try something new. Getting them involved in the preparation and turning this dinner party into a culinary adventure will be the golden ticket to success.

Lillie and Sadie helped me put together the menu and pick up the ingredients. One of their favorite veggies is the golden beet so it was the first to be added and the rest fell into place. Here is our menu for this Golden Feast:


Golden delicious apple and ginger spritzer

First course:

Golden beet, beefsteak tomato and honey-goat cheese mousse stacked salad drizzled with a lemon-herb vinaigrette

Second course:

Golden-seared shrimp, Kalamata olives and feta cheese
tossed with bucatini in a lemon garlic broth

Third course:

Golden honey and rose petal ice cream with toasted pistachio bits

Lets get cookin'! The key to a successful and stress free dinner party is preparation!

We whipped up the vinaigrette and Sadie picked the rose petals for the ice cream the day before.

We roasted the beets the next morning and toasted the pistachios. Everything that could be done before the guests arrived was out of the way so we could enjoy the company.

Ian was the first to be put to work and was in charge of juicing the golden delicious apples for our aperitif. The sweet and tart flavor of the apples melded perfectly with the subtle spiciness of the fizzy ginger soda. 

I explained that an aperitif is a drink served before a meal to wake up their taste buds - that was a fun conversation! The kids loved the drink and were excited for the next course. 

Golden delicious apple and ginger spritzer

3 golden delicious apples, juiced
ginger ale

Pour one part pressed apple juice to two parts ginger ale over crushed ice in a tall glass. Stir gently with skinny spoon and serve.

With our appetite properly stimulated, it was time to create the first course. Our guests had never tried beets before so this would be a true test! Everyone enjoyed assembling the stacked salad and Isabella fell in love with the sweet beets and the tart and tangy dressing. Success!

Golden beet, beefsteak tomato and honey-goat cheese mousse stacked salad drizzled with a lemon-herb vinaigrette

4 medium golden beets
3 medium beefsteak tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
pinch salt
pinch pepper
honey-goat cheese mousse (recipe below)
lemon-herb vinaigrette (recipe below)

Toss beets in olive oil with the salt and pepper. Wrap with aluminum foil and roast in 400 degree oven for 1 hour. Let cool and peel skin off of beets. Try not to eat one!

Slice tomatoes and beets in 1/3 of an inch slices. Place first tomato slice flat in the center of a small plate. Pipe a small amount of goat cheese mousse on top, cover with a slice of golden beet and gently press down. Add mousse to top of beet and repeat until there are two tomato slices and two beet slices. Drizzle a very small amount of the lemon-herb vinaigrette over the top beet and in a circle around the rest of the plate.

Honey-Goat Cheese Mousse

2 oz. goat cheese
½ cup whipped cream cheese
3 tbsp. Sour cream
1 tbsp local honey
¼ tsp Kosher salt
¼ tsp onion powder
pinch of pepper
splash of cream

Fold all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and hand whisk for 2 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer mousse from the bowl into a large zip top bag and seal. Store in the fridge. Clip bottom corner of bag and squeeze to pipe out when ready to construct the salad.

Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette

½ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
½ tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp champagne vinegar
¼ cup local honey
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp Kosher salt
2 tsp loose basil
2 tsp loose thyme

Combine all ingredients in a counter top blender and blend on high for 2 minutes until completely emulsified.

Time for the main course. The kids helped crumble the feta, test the bucatini, squeeze the lemons and combine the ingredients. The flow from kitchen back to the table each course was an enthusiastic parade.

Golden-seared shrimp, Kalamata olives and feta cheese
tossed with bucatini in a lemon garlic broth

½ lb bucatini pasta
1 lb large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped into thirds
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
½ tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced into thirds
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 large golden tomato, seeded and cubed
5 cups chicken stock
3 garlic cloves, pressed
¼ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
lemon zest

shrimp wave!

Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat butter until shimmering in a non-stick pan and saute on medium-high heat for just a few minutes until the shrimp turns golden on the edges. Keep them moving so they sear but don't burn. Do not overcook. Transfer to a bowl.

Boil salted water in a large pot over high heat and cook bucatini one minute less than the instructions on the package. Strain but do not rinse. Set aside.

In a large skillet or saute pan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil until shimmering on medium heat. Saute pressed garlic for 60 seconds. Add chicken stock to deglaze and let simmer for 5 minutes.

Add tomato, olives, herbs and pasta and stir or use tongs to combine. Fold in feta and lemon juice. The feta will thicken the broth so it sticks to the pasta! 

Transfer portions to a large plate and then microplane a tiny amount of lemon zest over the top of each serving.

The adventurous eaters devoured the entire plate!

Slurping noodles is allowed even at a fancy dinner party!

Ian attacked the longest noodle ever!

Even though our bellies were full of new flavors, there was somehow room for ice cream. 

Golden honey and rose petal ice cream with toasted pistachio bits

2 large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup turbinado sugar
1 cup loose rose petals
pinch of salt
¼ tsp saffron
½ cup toasted, chopped salted pistachio kernels

Rough chop pistachios and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in oven for 5 minutes at 350 degrees to bring out the crunch. Remove from sheet and let them cool on a plate in a quiet corner of the kitchen.

heaven in a blender

Whisk eggs for 2 minutes or until fluffy. Combine cream, milk, sugar, salt, rose petals and saffron in a blender and mix together on medium-high for 1 minute. Add eggs to blender and mix again for 1 minute. Transfer to a storage container and chill for an hour.

Add mixture to your ice cream maker and mix until firm. 

Scoop two generous scoops into a small bowl or cup and top with toasted pistachios.

Even though the flavors were unusual and exotic, everyone devoured the ice cream. The evening ended with a dance party in the living room. 

Fancy dinner party's aren't just for adults! They are the perfect reason to try new flavors and share some good times with friends both young and old! 


  1. I loved this!!!!

  2. What a wonderful fun night - I loved reading this. No pretension, no crazy flavour combos, just good food well made. I'm keeping that recipe for the rose petal ice-cream too!
    Thanks for putting a smile on my face,

  3. Uh that is straight up PRECIOUS! Congrats on a creative and awesome job well done!


  4. Great post! I love the theme and enjoyed seeing a completely kid-friendly menu! Great job and good luck!

  5. Mmmm, Shrimp, feta, and olives, man!

    (Got our vote buddy!)

  6. Wow! Love your entry! Hope we both make it to the next round! :-) You have my vote!

  7. so cute!

    (see my post:

  8. I love it! My friend Melissa's daughter is six. She was born with CHARGE syndrome. Her name is Saralene and she's the sweetest angel you'd ever want to meet. And her favorite color is yellow. So I admit, I TOTALLY voted for you because of this *hugs* Cheers lady, you got my vote! Hope we both make it to the next round :D

  9. Love how you involved the kids. The menu looked great - and you did not dumb it down for the kids. Great job. you got my vote.

  10. This is fantastic! So glad the kids loved it; you were so creative w/the ingredients! Great job; you have my vote:)

  11. Oh, I am reading this after you have won the challenge, well-deserved! Such a darling post! Good luck in the next competition.

  12. Congrats Congrats going onto challenge #4!!! Must be exciting for you! Good luck and all the best. Happy Thanksgiving to you! You'll be getting the next vote from me :) Your awesome!

    Have a happy thanksgiving!
    jen @