I loooove entertaining friends, cooking for them, and (hopefully!) having them enjoy the food, the company and the evening. As the host of two dinner parties within the week, it has been an especially hectic couple of days for me. No complaints though! Dinner party crunch time translates to kitchen time, and kitchen time is my favourite sort of time! Serving 8 people, and having everything come out as fast as possible, preferably hot and well prepared requires lots of coordination and planning ahead. That is why most of my dinner party menus contain a good chunk of things that can be prepared a day ahead to lessen the load during the actual Dinner Party. Ofcourse, if you have a darling sister that is willing to give up gaming for the night to help you out in the kitchen, that would also be a great asset. Thanks Munsch!! Here is one of the two menus I served. Throughout the following weeks, I will be working my way down the menu and blogging on each dish I served! Here’s a preview of what’s to come:
Trio: Mission Fig Brulee Tartlet with an Orange Mascarpone Cream – Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus – Grilled Spiced Mangos
Oven Roasted Tenderloin on a Toasted Couscous Salad
Pan-Seared Sweet Soy Salmon on a Creamy Mint Pea Puree
Madagascar Vanilla Panna Cotta – Red Wine Poached Pears – Ginger Maple Brandy Snap
Usually, for dinner parties in the colder months, I try to prepare food that is luscious and rich But the same formula can’t be applied to summer parties, where richness just seems overpowering, unnecessary and heavy. The real challenge for summer dinner party menu is that need to prepare food that is light, refreshing and seasonal, while maintaining a certain level of elegance and decadence to make a dinner party special.
For this menu, I decided to go for seasonal fruit in the appetizer: Ataulfo Mangos and Mission Figs. For this post, I will focus on the delicious Mission Fig Tart.
Mission Figs have a short season during late spring/early summer, and a longer one during September, so working with this highly seasonal food requires good timing. What’s more, Mission Figs are almost as big of a diva as Souffles. If you find mission figs in stores, grab them, chug them in the fridge and eat/cook with them within 2-3 days. Mission figs waits for NO ONE! I was thrilled to see these delicious figs in my local grocer a few days before this dinner party, and bought a small basket of them a day before the dinner to make a refreshing fruit tart.
Now, I know what you’re thinking… Fruit tarts as an appetizer? Yep! It works! And it works so wonderfully during the summer months. I like mixing savoury and sweet components in my food, so this Fig Brulee Tart app was simply too hard to resist! Sweet figs seasoned with salt and pepper, with a caramelized top is oh-so-good. The sweet, zesty orange mascarpone cream juxtaposes the savory, ‘pepperiness’ of baby arugula. Take a step further, and add a buttery, crumbly tart base, and voila! A gorgeous summer appetizer is served!
But wait! There’s more! The tart crust and the mascarpone cream can be prepared the night before the party, which means less work and less fuss during the actual party! (And THAT much more easier to add 2 more components in the appetizer dish).
Here you go, another Nommy Noms recipe:
Fig Brulee Tartlets with an Orange Mascarpone Cream
Orange Mascarpone Cream:
- 1 1/4 Cup Mascarpone Cheese
- 6 Tbsp Heavy Cream
- 1 Cup Softened Cream Cheese (can substitute with Mascarpone)
- 6 Tsp Granulated Sugar
- 2 Zest from Orange
- 6 Tbsp Fresh Orange Juice
The fun part:
- With a stand mixer, blend the two cheeses together until combined. Add in sugar and blend. Then add in the zest and juice. Keep chilled in the fridge until ready to assemble.
- x2 Recipes of the Nommy Noms Pie Crust: https://nommynoms.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/cherry-tomato-mozzarella-tartlets/
- NOTE: Increase baking time to 20 minutes, until the tarts are slightly golden brown.
Mission Fig Brulee:
- 6 Ripe Mission Figs ( Halved)
- Salt & Pepper (to taste)
- 1/2 Cup White sugar
The Fun Part:
- Season figs (cut side only) with salt & pepper.
- Place sugar in a shallow bowl, and dip the figs (cut side) into the sugar.
- Place figs on a baking tray (uncut side down). Using a creme brulee torch, torch the sugar on top of the figs at an angle, until the sugar bubbles and caramelizes. (Or you can caramelize the figs when it’s placed on the tart before adding the argula). ALTERNATIVELY, you can place the figs on a grill until the cut side becomes golden.
- 1 1/2 Cup Baby Arugula
- 1 Juice of lemon
- 2 Tbsp Chopped fresh basil
- 1 Tsp White sugar
- Splash Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The Fun Part:
- Combine the sugar, lemon juice, chopped basil and olive oil to make a vinaigrette.
- Toss the arugula in the vinaigrette.
- Spoon the orange mascarpone cream on the cooled tartlets, and top with caramelized mission figs and a few sprigs of arugula! Serve and enjoy!