My first favorite entertaining phrase is “make ahead.” My second is “room temperature” especially in summer months. There are few things that make for a relaxed party or dinner than a made ahead meal served room temperature.
This past weekend I had my mother in town AND my mother in law – two women who love me no matter what I serve, but who we also love to cook for. So we did. And boy what a feast it was – the oohing and ahhing – and not just because they are The Moms – they actually liked it!
This menu is Middle East/Jerusalem inspired. Start with almonds – roasted and salted – and olives (the best you can find). Next, a series of salads. Tomatoes and cucumbers; raw squash with a light dressing and feta; burnt eggplant with pomegranate seeds. I also made Green Couscous (for the love of Yotam!) and it’s so easy and different and good.
For the main, we went grilled rack of lamb. You have a lot of leeway here with the main – the salads would go nicely with grilled or roasted chicken, steak, pork or even fish. It’s hard to go wrong so go with what you like best. Since we had the grill going, we toasted up some flatbreads too.
Of course we wanted dessert. We got the most amazing baklava – two kinds – pistachio and walnut. No way was I making baklava. I am not insane. There are certain things one should almost always buy. Support your local businesses – buy baklava.
And that was that. It’s a fair amount of washing and chopping but with a bit of planning (LOVE planning), you can have everything done by 3pm and resting, then just fire up your grill. Put everything on your table on large platters and have at it. One of my favorite menus ever.
Tips and Notes
Tomatoes and Cucumbers – this doesn’t really need a recipe (Kirby cucumbers; colorful tomatoes cut into odd shapes; a little red onion; maybe you grate a garlic clove on it; red wine or sherry vinegar; olive oil; salt/pepper; time to come together). But if you must – this is a good basic version: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/tomato-onion-and-cucumber-salad-recipe.html
Burnt Eggplant – Oh how I love Yotam. Seriously buy his cookbooks. http://www.athoughtforfood.net/blog/burnt-eggplant-with-lemon-garlic-and-pomegranate-seeds
Raw Squash and Feta – puurrty…http://cookieandkate.com/2013/summer-squash-salad-with-lemon-citronette/
More Yotam, Green Couscous – http://www.marthastewart.com/348890/green-couscous
And the Bakalva – if you don’t have a middle eastern store near you, look here: https://www.amazon.com/Baklawa-Baklava-Walnuts-28-30-Pieces/dp/B0002HDM06