Five years ago, if my college roommate (and bestie) Meg, told me she was moving to Jupiter, I would have rallied 40 of our closest friends, wrangled them into a bistro, and shut the place down. We’d drink, we’d eat, we’d be merry. And at the end of the evening, we’d be scrounging for ones to make sure we’d left enough tip.
But things are different now. We’re a little bit older, a little bit tamer. We have day jobs and mortgages, husbands and dogs. So when Meg said she was moving, it didn’t even occur to me to look for a restaurant. My email to the girls was a string of three sentences. Come over for steaks. We’ll make soufflés for dessert. Be here at six, and bring something with you.
There are only three rules we follow when entertaining at home:
- Go with a trusted recipe. Simply put, trying a new recipe you saw in this months’ Bon Appétit is a disaster waiting to happen. What can go wrong, will. You’ll forget an ingredient. Or buy the wrong ingredient. Maybe you’ll overcook it. Maybe you’ll undercook it. Maybe you got the measurements wrong; now you’re short four plates. What if it sucks? What if it really sucks? Hosting a dinner for guests is not the time to figure that out. Go with something you’re comfortable you can make well.
- Accept offers. Someone says, “what can I bring?” Ask yourself: can this person cook? If you know they can, have them bring a course: appetizer, salad, dessert, etc. If the answer is no, or you don’t really know, have them bring a beverage, like a wine or a beer, or have them provide the music; a CD or two will work. The point is: people like to contribute; save yourself some trouble and let them.
- Cut flowers for the table. Nothing overly fancy; just a stem or two in a couple of bud vases. I keep them really small so they people can still see over them. It’s just enough to say “hey, you’re special.”
Then there’s the fourth rule: the RGB rule. And that is, always serve something from the garden.
For Meg’s dinner party, I strolled through the garden for herbs and wound up with a simple feta cheese spread that I served with some wheat crackers and pita chips. Three minutes to chop and two minutes to blend, this was a no-brainer to add to the mix.
Feta Cheese Spread with Fresh Garden Herbs
Blend fresh garden herbs with feta cheese, lemon juice and olive oil to make a quick, flavorful spread to serve with crackers or pita chips. Crumble leftovers into a breakfast omelet or spread in a sandwich.
~ Makes 1 ½ cups ~
- 12 ounces feta cheese, broken into pieces
- 2-3 fresh green onions, chopped (yield 2 tablespoons)
- 3-4 sprigs fresh dill leaves, chopped (yield 2 tablespoons)
- 4-5 sprigs oregano leaves, chopped (yield 2 tablespoons)
- ½ Meyer lemon, zested and juiced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Grind of pepper
~ Preparation ~
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the feta, green onion and herbs.
- Pulse until the cheese is well combined.
- Add the olive oil, lemon zest and lemon juice and puree until smooth.
- Transfer the spread to a bowl and serve immediately.
Source: Adapted from www.heatherchristo.com/cooks/2012/04/20/feta-cheese-dip/