Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.
-Harriet Van Home.
In my continuing fixation with fall (and would it please start to cool down please, pretty please?) I recently hosted a dinner party inspired by the season I am so anxiously anticipated. The food turned out beautifully and, although the weather is still quite warm, I did notice some of the sycamores that line our street are starting to fall!
An Autumn Menu
Butternut squash tortellini in a sage butter sauce with dried cherries and walnuts
Green salad with apples and roquefort cheese in an orange vinaigrette
Pear cake with fresh whipped cream.
For the butternut squash ravioli, I cubed and roasted a butternut squash lightly tossed in olive oil and dusted with salt. I pureed the squash with low fat ricotta cheese, about a cup, and a couple of ounces of neufchatel cheese. I also added some salt, cinnamon, and coriander, to taste. Then I used won ton wrappers topped with about a teaspoon of the mixture to create the tortellini. I made them earlier in the day, along with the cake, so they would be ready to go when it was time for dinner. When it was time, I boiled them for maybe five minutes while melting butter with sage I cut into ribbons, chopped walnuts, and dried cherries. I added the tortellini to the butter sauce and tossed to coat them and then into the serving bowl they went!
For the salad I made a vinaigrette with Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. I added a sliced green apple, blue cheese and mixed greens, tossing it at the last minute.
The cake I got from Clotilde Dusoulier who has a food blog (and now book) called "Chocolate and Zucchini." She is also translating a French cookbook, I Know How to Cook, first published in 1932 and considered the French equivalent of Rombauer's The Joy of Cooking, due out this October. The cake is surprisingly easy and really good. It calls for "ground almonds," which I don't know where to find, so I just minced up some slivered Trader Joe's almonds and it seemed to work just fine.
Although it was a labor intensive dinner, with a little organization and timing it was pretty easy. Making the tortellini and cake ahead of time made dinner really come together quite quickly in the end--just mixing up the salad, cooking the tortellini and making the sauce, and serving. It was rich but very delicious and a perfect, dinner party worthy, vegetarian feast.