The second gathering has a way of flowing much better than the first. Not just in how we planned and rolled out dinner but also in the conversation around the table. The group is starting to warm up to each other and we are all starting to get a little more comfortable with the material we are discussing.
Last week taught us a handful of lessons that we did our best to implement this week. Things like being mindful of everyones time by thinking ahead and making sure things like the coffee is brewed before dessert so we can get another pot brewing as dessert is being served. We have a large group of coffee drinkers! Despite not wanting to put time restrictions on the group, we made a point to end by a certain time so those who need to leave could leave and others are free to stick around as they like. It is kind of weird to start out adamant about not having any time restrictions but seeing the need for them to better meet the needs of others.
Having a larger size group for dinner, serving family style proved difficult. Large heavy platters filled with enough food to go around the table actually didn’t make it around the table! In defiance to moving to a buffet style (we want to cultivate family style), we tried a hybrid approach to family style. We split the table in half, used smaller serving dishes, and set out two of each dish on the table. It proved to be much more effective in getting food on people’s plates. But man, talk about using every dish I own!
Pulling together the menu taught me how much the type of dishes I make impact the amount of work it takes to get the meal on the table come Friday night. Soup is a an incredible time saver as it can be made ahead of time and simple reheated. Dessert that doesn’t have to be served warm/right out of the oven is awesome. Also a no fuss roast that cooks in a third of the time you expect it all made dinner roll out much easier.
This weeks menu included:
Roast Pork Shoulder: Roast pork has been moving up the ladder as one of my favorite roasted meats over the last couple of years. This method does not disappoint.
Peach Chutney: While I am a huge fan of gravy and have no qualms making it, I didn’t feel like fussing with it for D&D. So sticking to using what is in season right now I decided to pair the pork with a peach chutney. I didn’t use a recipe for this but instead followed a method from my friend Liv that involved sugar, vinegar, fruit, onion and heat. Paired incredibly with the pork.
Cauliflower Goat Cheese Soup: A long time favorite of mine. Simple pairing of broth (used much less than the recipe actually calls for), cauliflower and goat cheese. Simple and to the point.
Quinoa, Golden Raisin, & Mixed Greens: I did a variation on this salad. Changed the greens to a mix since we did arugula last week and changed up the dried fruit simply because of the cost. Adding the quinoa really rounds out this salad.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes w/Sage, Browned Butter & Pears: This dish was a nod the coming of the fall season and the abundance of pears that are in season. It was quite a few years ago that I discovered how well pears go with sweet potatoes so when a friend mentioned that her pear tree was popping I had to ask for some. Puree the pears and stir into the sweet potatoes. Season how you like. I was feeling particularly fall like so I browned the butter and added a lot of fresh sage.
Pineapple Cardamom Coffee Cake: I’ll be honest this wasn’t the best partially because I over baked it. But it served its purpose.
Dinner and Discussion is a weekly gathering over a meal and discussion. Read more about this series.