friendly fire

perfecting the “done before they arrive” dinner party- a work in progress

Categories: Appetizers, Soups, Meat, Desserts, Dinner Party, Wine Line, Posted on November 5, 2011 by Sandy Bergsten - Comments (0)

Blue jeans, a roaring fire and just one other couple. Now that’s my kind of Friday night. After a flurry of business it’s great to be able to let down your hair and soak in your company. It’s also a perfect opportunity to do a test run on any key components for next week’s dinner for twelve.

Being on a roll, tonight’s menu is going to try to live up to the completely “done before they arrive” challenge. Gotta love your freezer. Pulled out a frozen batch of roasted fall vegetable soup, the last of the chicken enchilada canapés, and another encore from those sublime frozen chocolate crepes.

Our guests arrived laden with an incredible California line up. When they mentioned that they would like to bring the wine they certainly outdid themselves to all of our delight.

Blueprint Sauvignon Blanc 

First on the docket a 2010 Blueprint Lail Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. Its acidity and mineral qualities offering perfect balance to the chicken enchilada canapés and smoked salmon apps.


The first course heralded a 2009 Knights Bridge Alder Springs Chardonnay.

 Knights Bridge Chardonnay

The ripe fruit and long finish bringing out the deep roasted sweet tones in the fall vegetable soup.

roasted fall vegetable soup

And for the main a pinot that would make Paul Giamatti quite merry indeed- a 2000 Merry Edwards Windsor Gardens Pinot Noir for the pork tenderloin.

Merry Edwards Pinot Noir

Now for a little back tracking. This pork is best if marinated for 24 hours in the frig.

pork tenderloin

It can also be marinated and then frozen. The time it takes to defrost in the refrigerator turns out to be the perfect marinating time. The citrus and herbs give the meat an incredibly moist and fresh taste.


Grill on high on each side until lightly charred. Let sit for up to an hour and half.  Slice. And gently re-warm in a 325 oven.

sherry sauce

The sauce is a reduction of shallots and dry sherry. Reduced again with some chicken broth. Then finished with a little cream. This too can be made a day in advance. It also freezes well.

sherry sauce

A side that comes together in a snap is cous cous. Simply heat chicken broth to the boiling point, remove from heat, stir in the cous cous and some toasted walnuts. It’s ready in five minutes but can be made up to a half hour in advance.

cous cous

Now to see if these amazing Brussels sprouts which are adapted from one of Ina Garten’s recipes can be made much earlier in the day, then reheated and assembled.

Brussels sprouts

Start with super fresh Brussels sprouts- off the stalk if you can. Fry up a little diced bacon, set aside on paper towel.


Cut the sprouts in half and sauté in the bacon fat until just browned on some edges. This can be done earlier in the day. Let the Brussels sprouts cool, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Brussels sprouts 

Right before serving, heat half of the broth in a large pan. Add the Brussels sprouts and raisins, simmer until just tender-don’t over do it. Add more of the broth if needed. Sprinkle with the reserved cooked bacon. Serve immediately.

chocolate crepe

A frozen chocolate crepe finish to a warm and memorable eve.

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