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Preview: Coming for Dinner

Coming for Dinner

Recipes, tips, and tricks to help you feel more confident about cooking and coming up with new ideas, so you don't just have people coming for dinner, but staying for breakfast as well.

Last Build Date: Wed, 11 Aug 2010 13:09:59 -0500

Copyright: Copyright 2005 lgk productions

A Summer BBQ
This coming weekend is the long Fourth of July weekend here in the States, which always conjures up thoughts of BBQing and fireworks. But you don't have to live in the States to find an excuse to fire up the BBQ and have a nice summer feast for friends and family. With that said, here are some recipes to get your summer groove on with...

Cabin BBQ Sauce
This recipe came out of three years of visiting various family cabins in Southern Humboldt County, and inevitably having a barbecue at some point during the course of a weekend.

To make a really good chili, you need to build up the spices.

The Best Potato Salad in the World
What? It is. Hands down.

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Whipped Cream and Raspberries
You can lie to your guests and tell them that you slaved over this for hours and hours in the kitchen, because they'll never believe how easy this is to pull off. Nor will they believe just how awesome this tastes.

Iced Blackberries and Raspberries
A reeaaalllly good, nice, light, summery dessert.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
I could eat this for days. And it goes so well with so many dishes. And really isn't hard at all to do.

Individual Meringues (with Raspberry Vermouth Sauce)
This is a variation on the meringue torte recipe, but done so you can serve it as a nice, easy dessert for 20.

The Fastback
I've been drinking bourbon (or rye) with ginger ale (or ginger beer) for years, occasionally adding a few dashes of bitters to cut the sweetness of it.

While out for drinks with some friends recently, I was appalled to learn that my beloved go-to cocktail was showing up on cocktail menus at hipster joints with names that sounded like they came from a frat boy kegger. So my pal Dan and I came up with the idea to give it a real name, a name fitting for this slice of Americana, a name that you can proudly ask your bartender to make for you, without any fear of sounding like an ass. Thus "the Fastback", after the car Steve McQueen muscled through San Francisco in Bullitt.

Shortly after we named this, I asked for it by name at the bar we were at, and explained to the bartender how to make it. He liked it, and agreed it was the perfect name for the perfect drink.

Risotto (with Bacon, Asparagus, and Shitake Mushrooms)
Oh sweet jesus but I love this dish. Once you've had it, other risottos just seem, well, not as good.

This is a neat little trick I picked up in the restaurant at the age of 13. Let the oven do the cooking for you and it comes out perfect every time.

Leftovers ((Thursday Night Alternative to Grilled Cheese Sammies))
Back in the day when Friends was still entertaining, Thursday night revolved around grilled cheese sammies and tomato rice soup. However, one week I'd done up roasted chicken with andouille and shitake stuffing, and wanted to use up the leftovers from that fine meal. This is what ensued, and it was damn fine.

Always a crowd pleaser. Make it a couple days in advance and pop it in the fridge until you're ready to serve it.

Crème Brûlée
A lot of people think that making crème brûlée is a daunting task. It's not, really, can be made a couple days in advance, and seems to wow the hell out of people.

Dirty Rice
If you're making this to accompany the roasted chicken with andouille and shitake stuffing, you'll want to use the sauté pan that you used to cook the mushrooms and sausage (that's what makes the rice "dirty"), and a little of the leftover spice mixture. If you're not, it still works.

Turducken (Turkey, Stuffed with Duck and Chicken)
Paul Prudhomme is rumored to have created this monstrosity, and John Madden has talked about it during the holidays for as many years as I can remember. A couple years back I made one of these over at Jeff and Denise's for Thanksgiving (and Denise wrote a limerick abut it). Shortly thereafter Cassia and Pete asked me to make one for New Year's Eve. Each time I make it it gets easier to do and better to eat.

Chocolate Fudge Cake (with Whipped Cream and Raspberries)
You can lie to your guests and tell them that you slaved over this for hours and hours in the kitchen, because they'll never believe how easy this is to pull off. Nor will they believe just how awesome this tastes.

Cabin BBQ Sauce
This recipe came out of three years of visiting various family cabins in Southern Humboldt County, and inevitably having a barbecue at some point during the course of a weekend. I'd offer to make up a sauce, and would pretty much go through the pantry and see what was available for spices. Nine times out of ten, they were spices from the last visit we'd made up there. With a few beers being open and a bottle of Jack sitting on the table, this recipe was hatched.

Over the years it's evolved, and I've come to discover, when at someone’s house where there isn't any Jack Daniels, but only fancier bourbon, that substituting a good bourbon, or even a nice single malt scotch, can really add something extra to the sauce. Not much of a surprise, really, in that your better bourbons and single malts are peaty, which definitely enhances the hickory taste of the Liquid Smoke.

Crackled Duck with Cherry Sauce
While on holiday in England a couple years ago, I was at a Chinese restaurant in the Midlands and realized that, on the whole, we don't eat a hell of a lot of duck here in the States, which is a crying shame.

This recipe is pretty straightforward, and can either be prepared as dinner for two, or as an appetizer for about 6 to 8.

Chicken Stock
I ususally save the bones from a 5 # roasting chicken once it's been cooked, and make a stock up the next day.

Perfect Coffee
Making a perfect cup of coffee really isn't as hard as it seems. But it seems a lot of people either make their coffee super weak or undrinkable. Granted, I like a good cup of bad coffee, especially when brought to me in bed, but/and this should help you along for making consistently delicious (strong) coffee.

Cognac Infused Herb-roasted Chicken
I used to do this dish with a whole roasting chicken, but I find the presentation is nicer if each person has their own chicken breast. It's also a lot easier when it comes time to plate the meal, so you're not trying to carve a chicken while chatting with your guests.

Porcini and Pancetta Pasta (with a Dry Vermouth Cream Sauce)
This is an iteration on the carbonara dish I made for the wedding in Tuscany. If it's the fall, and you can get fresh porcini mushrooms, by all means, do so.

Kick-ass Curry ((Percolator Style))
Technically, the curry itself isn't done in a percolator. On a Fourth of July weekend trek up to Blocksburg years ago, I was staying in a cabin with a gas stove and no electricity with a bunch of friends. When it came time for eating time, I'd picked up a bunch of stuff to throw together for a possible curry, only to discover there was only one pot in the cabin. That's fine for the curry, but what about the rice? Looking around, I saw an old percolator on the back of the stove. So I cleaned that out and used it for the rice, and thus "kick-ass curry in a percolator".

Cornbread Stuffing
I needed another stuffing for Turducken, and wanted to give some respect to a traditional Thanksgiving stuffing. Thus the layer between the turkey and the duck gets this, with props shown by way of Bell's Seasoning.

The Best Potato Salad in the World
I know, I know, that's a pretty subjective and ballsy thing to claim, that this is the "best potato salad in the world". But it's pretty damn good. And before you start getting all high and mighty that it has Miracle Whip in it and that that instantly makes it less that "the best", try the recipe out. Potato salad is a comfort food, and this is pretty comfy.

Iced Blackberries and Raspberries
Susannah said she wanted some kind of easy, light dessert for her meal. As it was summer as I was coming up with the recipe, I started thinking about some kind of sherbert or gelato, but didn't want to assume that everyone has an ice cream maker in their pantry. So I opted for this, which just requires a bowl and a freezer. And whose kitchen doesn't have those two things?

Oh, and it tastes reeaaalllly good.

Orzo (with Pine Nuts, Basil, Tomato, Asparagus, and Yellow Peppers)
I was at a fancy wedding shower a while back, and there was a cold orzo salad in the mix. The addition of pine nuts made it truly spectacular, their visual similarity to the orzo hiding them and their textural contrast providing a great surprise with each bite - this is how I recreated it in my mind. It makes for a really great, simple appetizer.

A few years back I headed up to Blocksburg, CA for the 4th of July Chili Cook-Off taking place at the community center. In that a lot of the contestants had either eaten or had heard about my chili, I was told I couldn't enter mine (as they thought I'd be a shoe-in to win). Instead, they let me be one of the judges. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

I've found that to make a really good chili, you need to build up the spices.

Andouille Sausage and Shitake Mushroom Stuffing
Among the things this can be used for are Turducken and Roasted Chicken.

Apple Pie
I found out recently that the crust for this pie is my gramma's recipe. As a little girl with no mom to look to for "how to make a crust", she saw someone making a crust, and thought "this is how to do it - by adding milk". And believe me - it makes all the difference in the world.

Pecan Pie
I've always loved pecan pie. Something about the way the pecans and all the sugar come together is a truly awesome experience. When I started playing around with this recipe, I knew I wanted to keep it traditional, but up the ante a bit. Thus more booze than you typically see in a pecan pie, and more pecans than you typically see in a pecan pie. It's super easy to make, and has been a winner at every Thanksgiving I've brought it to.

Twice Cooked Potatoes
Super easy, super yummy.

Petrale Sole (with Roasted Red Peppers, Macadamia Nuts, and Vermouth)
This is a nice little romantic wintertime meal.

If you can't find Petrale sole, regular sole will suffice.

Projole (Italian Flank Steak Rolled with Pine Nuts, Parmesan Cheese, and Mint)
I'm not entirely sure where this recipe came from originally. I seem to recall watching a Saturday morning cooking show where someone was cooking a flank steak, rolled with pine nuts and mint and simmered in a tomato sauce and that it sounded really good. Recently I tried to locate the source of this recipe, and came up snake eyes - until I started doing some variations on my spelling. Technically, there is no "projole" - it's "brajol" or "braciole", and it's nothing like this dish, with the exception that sometimes it's made with flank steak, and it is stuffed (although with onions, celery and mozzarella cheese), and it may or may not be simmered in a sauce.

In any case, this has been in my repertoire now for the past five years, and it's definitely become a favorite. I've made it for friends in Marblehead, dinners at my folks' on the Cape, and shared the recipe with friends and $5 Dinner Clubs from San Francisco to New York. I've even had vegetarians tell me, as they smelled the sauce and the steak with the fragrant mint cooking, that they wished they ate meat.

Depending on the time of year, you might not be able to get your hands on fresh mint. Don't worry. Although it doesn't taste quite the same, substituting basil works just fine.

Roasted Chicken ( with Andouille and Shitake Stuffing)
The "Leftovers" make for a good, quick alternate to grilled cheese sammies and tomato soup with rice on a lazy mid-week evening.

Shrimp Stock
There's no excuse not to make a shrimp stock if you're peeling and deveing shrimp - just toss the shells into a pot, and you're well on your way.

Gingered Turnip Napoleons
I came up with this one to go with the Filet Mignon meal I made after Jessica and Peter told me they were getting married.

Blueberry Chicken (Sautéed with Cognac and Blueberry Chutney)
This was one of the first recipes I used on my nightly specials board. I'd come into the kitchen in the morning to update the executive chef as to the previous night's numbers, and to post my new specials. The produce order had just come in, and there were 3 flats of blueberries waiting to go in the walk-in. I started thinking, "Hmm, blueberries taste like this… and chicken tastes like this...," tasting the food in my head. What if I made a chutney from blueberries, with some orange rind and ginger and cognac, dredged the chicken in flour and ground ginger and cumin, flamed off the dish with additional cognac and garnished it with curled orange rind?

The first night I ran the special, only one sold. Maybe people weren't ready for blue food. I pulled it out again a few weeks later, though, and it sold four. By the end of the summer, word of mouth had spread, and I was getting nightly requests for it. The flavors of the blueberries, ginger, and onions playing off the orange, cumin, and chicken were irresistible.

Jim Bowie's Chilled Strawberry Soup
Jim Bowie is one of my best friends, and one of the guys who I worked with for many years in the kitchen. One incredibly hot summer day he decided to have the soup du jour be chilled strawberry soup - this is my twist on it.

Cajun Spices for Stuffing
I've lost track of the number of boondoggle conferences I've gone to in New Orleans just so I could spend time perfecting this combination of spices...

I use this in Roasted Chicken with Andouille and Shitake Stuffing, Turducken, and Dirty Rice, among other things.

Baby Spinach Salad (with Persimmons and Toasted Hazelnuts)
This is a nice, simple salad, and the persimmons add an out-of-the-ordinary touch to it. If they're not in season, you can likely get them dried at the farmer's market. It's not quite the same, but it'll make you remember to try it out when they are in season (typically late summer through mid-to-late fall).

Pecan Encrusted Trout
The first year I threw my Mardi Gras party, I was afraid that only having gumbo, blackened chicken, and etouffé wasn't enough. So I started thinking about other "New Orleans tastes", and began toying around with the idea of pecans and coffee and bourbon, and creating a caramelly sauce to put over trout. It instantly became the "dessert" for the Mardi Gras party, and another dish that my vegetarian friends bend the rules on.

I usually make this up beforehand, and keep it in the fridge until I'm ready to cook it.

Filet Mignon (with Shitake Mushrooms, Truffle Oil, and Sweet Vermouth)
When my friends Jessica and Peter told me they were getting married, I invited them over for a celebration/engagement dinner. Which meant that I needed to come up with a meal that would suitably honor the occasion. Loitering at the meat counter, I was drawn to the beautiful cuts of filet mignon. I thought about how truffle oil, black pepper, shitake mushrooms, and sweet vermouth could make for a wonderfully rich sauce...

Pecan Stuffing
This is an iteration on the beginning part to the Pecan Encrusted Trout, but here I acutally start to carmelize the brown sugar so as to get a more candied consistency (which I think works better as a stuffing).

Pasta Puttanesca (Fast and Dirty Pasta) (Pasta with Tomatoes, Anchovies, and Olives)
The story goes that this pasta got its name from the working girls in Northern Italy, in that it was a fast and cheap meal to make between other fast and cheap things. I don't know if it's because of the story, but this dish has always just tasted smutty to me. In the best of all possible ways.

French Toast
I've made French Toast for as long as I can remember. Back in the restaurant we added syrup to the batter to make it just that extra bit sweeter. Monet apparently used rum in his, and after a few times of doing it like that, I found myself making French Toast for about a dozen people up in the backwoods of Northern California. There was plenty of booze around, but no rum - so I used some Jack Daniels, and I've stuck with this recipe ever since.

French Onion Soup ((A Variation On))
Why "a variation on"? Because when I had a bunch of friends over for this one evening, they all loved it, but said it tasted fancier than French Onion soup typically tastes, probably due to the champagne, bacon grease, mustard, and truffle oil.

This also works quite nicely as a broth to cook mussels in.

The Perfect Grilled Cheese Sammie
What makes a grilled cheese sandwich perfect? Butter. And low heat. Period.

Tuscan Pork
This is a great meal for a cool, early autumn evening, the apple cider and the cornbread and the prosciutto enhanced by the fennel seed.

Meringue Torte
My great-great aunt attended the Fannie Farmer Institute, in the early 1900's. Around 10 years ago my grandmother gave me one of her original, hand lettered recipe cards, which is the basis for this recipe.

Shrimp Étouffée
The first year I decided to do a Mardi Gras party, I wanted something else to go with the Gumbo and Pecan Encrusted Trout. I remembered back to my last trip to New Orleans and a dish I had on the edge of the French Quarter, a little Creole place in a magnificent old mansion, a plate of crayfish smothered in a roux with vegetables and spice. This is how I remember it tasting.

Oh, and the reason it's called "étoufée" is that étoufée means "smothered" in French.

German Chicken
This has to be one of my favorite comfort foods. And easy as hell to make.

Steak au Poivre (Steak Encrusted with Cracked Black Peppercorns)
The classic steak encrusted with peppercorns, with the addition of ginger powder added to the flour mixture to bring a slight sweetness as a contrast to the sharpness of the pepper.

Oh, and it helps to have all your guests in the kitchen when you're beating the hell out of the peppercorns with a hammer.

Howlie Poke (Ahi Tuna and Cucumbers, Marinated in Sesame Oil)
When I was on Kauai a couple years back I ate poke (po-keh) for the first time - an amazing appetizer consisting of ahi tuna marinated with sesame oil, scallions and some kind of chile paste. Recently I was thinking of making an appetizer with cucumbers, and somehow my mind jumped to this, which clearly isn't traditional poke (and thus "howlie").

Page Five Shrimp; Shrimp with Soundtracks (Shrimp with Garlic and Grape Tomatoes)
When I worked in the restaurant, one of my mom's favorite dishes was my bastardization of Shrimp Scampi. So clearly this recipe had to go in here. But in that the dish is so unlike shrimp scampi, I realized I needed a "new name" for it. While cooking this over at a girlfriend's apartment I was telling her that, and she suggested "Page Five Shrimp", as it sounds vague and fancy at the same time, like "Page Five" could be a shee-shee restaurant or something. So I liked that. And then it slowly dawned on me that all the CDs we were listening to while I was prepping and cooking and then when we sat down to eat were soundtracks. If you opt for the suggested musical directions at the bottom of the page, hold off on "Run Lola Run" until you're just about done with the meal.

Also, this meal exemplifies the notion of the holding pattern.

Pork Normandie
Fancy and delightful? Yes. Hard to make? Not at all.

Oxblood Cake
This is a recipe that's been in my family for at least three generations, and is the basis for every birthday cake I've ever had (and that I ever make), and was the basis for the four-tiered wedding cake my mom made for my sister's wedding.

And don't worry your pretty little head - there's no actual ox blood in this recipe... silly.

Pan Seared, Oven Roasted Monkfish
I was on the Cape in early October, helping my sister and her husband work on their 1800s Cape house. My last night in town I decided to make dinner for everyone, and it was far too hot and humid to make the pork roast I'd been planning on making. Wandering around their fancy grocer's market, I saw two huge monkfish in the fish case, freshly caught that morning. I quickly snatched them up, and started concocting the following in my head.

This dish is way too easy to taste this good. You'll want to serve it with Baby Spinach with White Beans and Pancetta and Twice Cooked Potatoes.

Garlic Bread
Another "inspired by my days in the restaurant" recipe. Lots of garlic, lots of butter, and enough spices to make it more than your run-of-the-mill garlic bread.

Strawberries, Sautéed with Black Pepper and Cognac, over Vanilla Ice Cream
So you've spent the afternoon prepping and cooking and don't feel like making a dessert, but would like to have one anyway? Then this does the trick. Super easy, super quick, and fucking awesome. The sweetness of the strawberries cut with the bite of the black pepper is an unbelievable taste. Jessica and Peter asked me to do this for the dessert at their wedding.

Ratatouille (Roasted Vegetables with Capers and Anchovy Oil)
I remember coming up with this recipe at a restaurant on the edge of North Beach in San Francisco. My sister was in town for New Year's 2000, and we'd gone to dinner. She had some salad or something that must have had anchovies in it, and although I've cooked with anchovies a thousand times, for some reason it got into my head that if I made a ratatouille with anchovy oil, roasted all the vegetables, and gave it more of a Mediterranean taste, that I might have something pretty yummy.

I started making my pancakes from scratch when I was living in Wales, where there was no store-bought pancake batter to be had (and "pancakes" are something different across the pond). And sure you could buy a box of Bisquick. But honestly, this takes all of 5 minutes more, and tastes a million times better.

Marinated Ahi Tuna
This is the closest to "fusion" cooking that I do. I was in the fancy grocery store and saw the lovely blood red sushi grade Ahi at the fish counter, and started building this recipe out in my head.

Pizza / Calzones
This recipe can be used for either pizza or calzones. When I have people over for calzones, I tend to make individual ones rather than one huge one - that way people can have what they want in theirs.

Crispy Potatoes
Yes, this recipe uses a lot of butter. There's no other way of getting the potatoes to taste this yummy. If you're afraid of getting slack from your guests, prep this beforehand so that they're none the wiser...

Baking Powder Biscuits
An all time favorite in my household growing up, always served hot with turkey soup after Thanksgiving, or with beef stew, and perfect for breakfast the next day.

Dandelion Wine
This is Mrs. Windbigler's recipe for Dandelion Wine, and is the basis for my Dandelion Chicken.

Red-ish Curry (Beef, Zucchini, Red Pepper, Green and Wax Beans in a Red Curry Sauce)
If you looked at the Green-ish Curry recipe, you know that my approach is more getting the feel of the flavors that make up the curry than acutally being able to legitimately claim that I should really know how to make curry. That said, this is pretty right on (and has a nice bite to it).

Eggplant Parmesean
Super easy, and really delicious.

Cajun Spices for Gumbo
I've lost track of the number of boondoggle conferences I've gone to in New Orleans just so I could spend time perfecting this combination of spices...

These are the spices to use for Gumbo.

Baby Spinach (with White Beans and Pancetta)
I orginally came up with this as an accessible but different accompaniment to the Oven Roasted Pork Tenderloin recipe for Susannah. It tastes incredible, almost like a light cassoulet, and works really well with that pork recipe, as well as with Pan Seared, Oven Roasted Monkfish.

Summer Chicken (with Cilantro, Vodka-lime Salsa, and Avocados)
I got this idea on a hot, sunny San Francisco day in October (not bragging, we just don't get normal summers out here). I'd been out driving around and had people coming for dinner, and thought something cool and refreshing would hit the spot, and starting thinking about salsas and limes and avocados.

Recently, when I was re-testing this recipe, the guests I had over were watching tv while I was in the kitchen, and a certain young hotel heiress' sex tape was being discussed, as well as night vision cameras. My guests thought that I should use that to name this dish, but my lawyer suggested that I don't (at least not in this forum)...

Regardless of that, this dish is terrific for a hot summer day, and presents all kinds of holding patterns for you to take a break from cooking.

The only real trick to making a perfect martini is to use really good vodka or gin, and to just show the glass to the vermouth. I'm partial to vodka for my martinis, and recommend Ketel One, Belvedere, or Grey Goose. If you're using Gin, Bombay or Tanquerey is the way to go.

I love New Orleans - the people, the music, the food. After my first business trip there and tasting gumbo, I tried to make it myself, but there was something missing. So I managed to get myself sent there for business as often as possible so I could re-taste what gumbo is supposed to be - one trip I spent the entire time going from place to place, trying it out, from fancy, expensive restaurants to dark, divey bars. The dark, divey bars had the best gumbo, and after several attempts, I came up with this.

The only way to make this taste right is to use homemade chicken stock and shrimp stock. And to make it the day before you're going to serve it so that all the flavors can mature - it always tastes better the next day.

I've been told by some of my friends, who grew up in New Orleans, that this is pretty authentic.

Chicken Breasts (with Shallots, Prosciutto, Chèvre Cheese, Figs, and a Port Reduction Sauce)
I came up with this one a few years back at my folks' house. A new fancy grocery store had opened up and I was wandering around the store and saw fresh figs, and this is where my thought process went.

Dandelion Chicken
My friend Kristin's mom has a family recipe for Dandelion wine. A few years ago when I found myself moving across the country, the only "pantry item" that traveled with was a ceramic-capped green Groelsch bottle of said dandelion wine. One of the first nights in the new apartment I wanted to make a nice chicken Dijon - except upon getting back from the market, I realized that I'd spaced on getting white wine. So I substituted in the dandelion wine instead, and came up with flavors that I'd never tasted before. Sweet yet earthy, tangy then mellow.

If you don't have dandelion wine, barley wine is a good substitute, and push comes to shove, champagne works well too.

Green-ish Curry (Chicken, Peapods, Mushrooms, Bamboo, Baby Corn and Peanuts in a Green Curry Sauce)
I can't do anything about the fact that the closest I can claim to being Indian is possibly having some Cherokee in my family tree. That said, white boy can make curry without having to rely on a jar of curry paste or dry powder. It's just a matter of thinking about what spices make up the complex flavoring of "curry".

Easy Spaghetti Sauce
Remember growing up and always hearing from so-and-so's mom or grandma that a good pasta sauce has to cook for hours and hours and hours to be any good? Don't believe it - this one takes about 25 - 30 minutes, and can be served alone over pasta, or used to make eggplant parmesean or lasagne, and it kicks ass.

Stuffed Bell Peppers
No idea how this one popped into my head. But it's a pretty delicious meal, with just a bit of spiciness to it...

Trout Grenobloise (Pan Fried with Lemon, Capers, and Parsley, over Rye Toast)
My sister did part of her undergraduate studies in France, and brought me back a French Regional Cooking book. In flipping through the book I was drawn to the origins of this recipe as the town she was studying in was Grenoble. The way the flavors of the trout and the rye toast and the lemons and capers all intersect is truly amazing. And the fact that it's so easy to make is even more amazing.

This is another good $5 Dinner Club meal, providing more than 6 people sign up (so you can afford the trout plus all the other ingredients).

Coq au Vin (Chicken in a Red Wine Sauce)
Years and years ago my folks got me Monet's Table, a beautiful book with great color plates of Monet's home at Giverny, all about his entertaining guests. The second half of the book has a bunch of his recipes, with photographs of his original recipe journals. Now I'd made coq au vin before loads of time, but never found that it was truly amazing. And that's because I wasn't using bacon. So I borrowed that idea, integrated it into my recipe, and whoa... so nice, so velvety.

Oven Roasted Pork Tenderloin (with White Wine and Onions)
This is the recipe I came up with for the winner of the first Coming for Dinner contest, Susannah from Litchfield County, CT. She wanted something that could be mostly made in the oven, that was fairly easy, and that she could enjoy while getting acquainted with "a gent [she] might meet".

While walking around the farmer's market in the San Francisco's Ferry Building, I started putting this together in my head. The only reason it's "for 4" is so that there are leftovers for the next day. It's for 2, and hopefully gets you a breakfast guest.

Summer Pasta (Heirloom Tomatoes with Vodka, Shallots, and Cumin)
This is perfect on a hot summer day, and super easy to throw together.

Old Fashioneds
One of my favorite drinks. Usually you'll want to make one first for testing to be sure your bourbon to sugar to bitters ratio is just right. No really. You wouldn't want to serve one that wasn't just right. I know, I know, rough job.

Fresh Beets with Fennel
Super easy, and absolutely delicious as a side dish when the weather starts turning cooler.

Clam Chowder (with Guinness and Bacon)
Growing up in New England, I suppose I should have really liked clam chowder. Ironically, it wasn't until I moved to California that it even sounded moderately appealing to me.

I got this idea in my head because I didn't feel that regular clam chowder had enough oomph to it. Adding bacon and Guinness to it does the trick.