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China and Jeans Impromptu Dinner Party: Crab Stuffed Fried Avocado, Spinach Soup with Madeira Cream, Grilled Mushrooms with Basil Pesto Cream

Last Wednesday I threw a china and jeans impromptu dinner party.  Against my natural instincts, I prepared the party as my next entry to Project Food Blog 2010, before I knew whether I’d advanced to the next round or not.  I am amongst the world’s most superstitious people.  And of course, I jinxed myself and am out of the running.  Thank you so much for all of your votes and support, at the end of the day, a contest is a contest.  And winning a contest requires a great deal of luck, along with hard work and great presentation.  Unfortunately, last week was *not* my week for luck.  Aside from jinxing the contest, it appears for the second week in a row, I jinxed my Longhorns.

Even after breaking out the cloth napkins and my festive Longhorn napkin rings, my football team failed to perform.  With all of this jinxing, you’d think I’d be more frustrated.  The thing is, I Love A Party.  Top to bottom, the whole event.  And this party, created as a contest entrance, represents my very favorite style of party and my style in general.  I’m calling it China and Jeans.  Because though I broke out the china and crystal, polished the silver, and created a luxurious menu, I fully expect you to arrive in jeans.  I know I’ll be wearing jeans, probably paired with flip flops.  Because they’re comfortable.  And don’t give you blisters.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t use my china.

I want to encourage you to break out your china and use it.  There is no point to having beautiful things if they just sit in a cabinet.  And you don’t have to throw a dinner party to do it.  You can eat a hot dog on china all by yourself on a Tuesday if you want.  Life is meant to be enjoyed.

Luxury Dinner Party Menu

Hors d’Oeuvre

Skewered Mushrooms with Fresh Basil Pesto Cream Sauce


Spinach Soup with Madeira Cream


Fried Avocado Stuffed with West Indies Crab Salad or Chicken and Cotija Cheese

Lemon Basil Quinoa


Cheesecake Tartlet


San Pelligrino

Bodega Norton Malbec Reserve 2007

Bodega Sottano Reserva Malbec 2007

Girard Suavingnon Blanc 2008

The contest requirements called for creating a luxurious dinner party menu using new and exotic flavors.  I’m more of a classic flavors cook, but I have a few things that I consider new and exotic in my repertoire.  In home entertaining the soup course has largely been lost.  I love a soup course, and what better medium to deliver your vegetables than soup?  My recipe for spinach soup [1] was written up last August.  I think my fried avocados [2] make a powerful presentation so I offered a choice of fillings with a version of my West Indies Crab Salad [3] or a slightly spicy shredded chicken and cotija cheese.  Quinoa is a relatively new food trend, and I love the crunch it offers in place of a traditional rice or pasta.  I’m still deciding what flavors marry best with the quinoa, but it always seems exotic.

Argentina is quickly becoming one of the world’s up-and-coming wine regions.  I picked 3 selections from Costco all rated 90 points by Wine Enthusiast or Wine Spectator.  I’ve never been a fan of traditional pairing, I prefer to drink what tastes good – not what matches the food.  In red wines, I look for descriptions using the words blackberry, dark fruit, and vanilla – even though my brain doesn’t associate these flavors with wines I enjoy.  Sometimes I think wine educators just grab words out of a hat and then start throwing it around with wild abandon.  Like jammy [4].  Really?  What does that mean?  No thank you, I would not like a wine glass full of jam.  I don’t even eat jelly with my peanut butter.  In white wine I know I like dry and citrus, while I do not like buttery or sweet.  I just loved the Wine Enthusiast quote on this one, so I picked it, even though it didn’t taste like any pink grapefruit or green apple I’ve ever eaten.

“Bone dry and zesty in acidity, with pink grapefruit, lemongrass and green apple flavors that have a honeyed edge despite the dryness. Vibrant and clean. Nice with a salad of bitter greens and chevre and whatever else you want to add, in a simple vinaigrette. ”

90 Points

Wine Enthusiast

I still haven’t photographed my cheese cake tartlets, so I’ll post the recipe and pictures for that later this week.  Cheers to my sweet friends for dropping plans and joining me with nearly zero notice.  Especially baby Vivian.  Onward and upward to new challenges I go.