Monday, February 18, 2008

Lunch for guests

For the first time since we moved into our house, we entertained. My in-laws came over for lunch since various business places gave off for Presidents' Day. Trillian's mother has cooked for us several times, and so I wanted to prepare a lunch that would match the wonderful meals she has made. I went with several stand-by dishes, experimenting slightly with them, but not too drastically.

Our menu:
Shrimp with chile and lime
Skillet-roasted potatoes
French green beans
Baked apples and pears

For the shrimp:
The simple idea behind this is to sautee some peeled, uncooked shrimp in olive oil that has been heated with chopped-up dry chiles. We frequently do this with chile and garlic, but I decided tonight to just use the chile and then squeeze lemon juice on them at the end. I don't remember what chiles we used in the past, but I used the dried chipotles on hand today. Even with the seeds removed, the chiles were hotter than usual, but not so hot that they overpowered the taste.

For the potatoes:
I use our large skillet for this. Olive oil in heated skillet. Sautee an onion until it's translucent and thinking about caramelizing. Add thinly sliced potatoes and herbs. Today, I used fresh thyme and rosemary, as well as some leek. Cover and stir around from time to time. I start this dish first so that the onions have plenty of time to caramelize and the potatoes can brown and soften.

For the green beans:
The easiest part of the meal. Trader Joe's has wonderful frozen French green beans. Unlike many other frozen veggies, they maintain their crispness and flavor. I threw a bunch of these into a saucepan with a little water and butter and let them heat up while I did everything else.

For the dessert:
This is a variation on the baked fruit I made before. I cored apples and pears before cutting them in half and placing them in the baking dish. I then used our mini-chopper to chop up some walnuts with cinnamon, to which I then added some honey--not a lot, just enough to keep it from falling all over the place. I put a spoonful or two into the center of each fruit half and baked for about half an hour.

At least my in-laws can be certain that I'm keeping their daughter well-fed.