Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Dinner and a Hike

A group of us get together as often as our schedules permit, hike and then either eat at a restaurant or do a potluck at one of our homes. Saturday, following a lovely hike, my husband and me had a potluck at our house.

I love to entertain (from days as a caterer) and tend to the smallest details. For this party, two tables were placed end to end on the deck and covered with a white tablecloth to fit 9 guests. I had 5 large sunflowers, and put one in each 4" glass cube vases (available in craft stores) each facing a different direction.

I also found recycled, recyclable and reusable tumblers from Whole Foods in a citron green. (I don't use glass outside.) The company also makes plate and utensils.

I never do dessert (I can't bake to save my life) but I told everyone I had dessert covered. I have a great big fire pit at my house, and I thought it would be fun to have the classic smores. But I wanted them to be good, so I bought graham crackers at a natural food store and purchased high quality, organic, fair-trade milk and dark chocolate.

I built a fire before dinner and after we ate, walked to the table with a bunch of sticks for toasting marshmallows in my hand....(coincidentally, the subject of smores had come up at dinner!) Well, everyone "got it" and shouts of "smores" circled the table. After a few directions on the how-to of making smores for those few who didn't know, we toasted and ate them up.

The Menu
Hors d'Oeuvres:

  • Watercress and Basil Dip
  • Steamed asparagus and harcot verde, raw veggies, assorted crackers
  • Brie and Mahon cheeses

  • Chopped chicken liver
  • Vietnames rice wrappers with veggies with a peanut sauce

Main Course:

  • Grilled assorted sausages
  • Organic and local tossed salad with a herb vinaigrette
  • Pasta salad with chicken and veggies
  • 3-bean salad
  • Potato salad with a Kick
  • Slaw


  • "Gourmet" Smores
  • Strawberries

For the dishes I made

Watercress and Basil Dip
This is delicious! You can substitute arugula for watercress. I'm taking the leftovers and tossing it with pasta and serving it with a salad.
1 bunch watercress, stems trimmed
1 bunch fresh basil leaves
1 head garlic ( less if strong garlic flavor offends)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup finely ground pecans, walnuts or pine nuts
1/4 cup minced scallions
Salt & pepper to taste
3/4 cup heavy cream
In a blender or food processor, grind nuts and set aside. Mince garlic in blender, then combine watercress, basil, olive oil and parmesan. Blend until pasty. Add cream and just blend.
Transfer mixture to bowl and add nuts and scallion. Salt and pepper to taste.

Chopped Chicken Liver
Note that liver spoils easily. If serving on a warm day, nest two bowls of different sizes and add water to larger bowl until full and freeze. Ice will surround liver and keep it cold. You will have to weigh smaller bowl down. When ready to serve, put liver into smaller bowl.

1 lb chicken liver
5 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
Saute onions until wilted and remove. Saute liver in a bit of oil until brown. Chop. Add onion, eggs, salt.

Potato Salad with a Kick
2lbs new or red potatoes, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
6 hard-boiled eggs, cut into small pieces
Handful parsely, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 lemon, juiced
1 cup (approx.) mayonnaise
1-2 tsp hot sauce
2 tsp mustard
Salt & pepper to taste

While potatoes are still hot, add lemon juice and toss (this prevents mayonnaise from soaking in.) Add dry ingredients. Mix mayonnaise, mustard and hot sauce and add to salad. Add salt & pepper. Let this sit a few hours to fully develop flavor.

Gourmet Smores
Graham crackers from a natural food store, like New Morning
Milk and dark chocolates, preferably organic, and good quality

To make a smore, break a graham cracker in half and add a piece of chocolate. Place marshmallow on a stick and toast over a fire. Place marshmallow over chocolate and add other graham half and enjoy! (If you don't have a fire, use a microwave.)

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