My last Kitchen Gathering was a blast!
I was so blessed by the group that gathered with me in the kitchen to watch, learn and be inspired. Kyle was there too, to support and help as sous chef – thanks love!
Our time was filled with much laughter, joy and depth. My prayers for the evening were answered, and I’m so grateful!
The table was adorned with fun place mats, which were actually pieces of scrapbook paper from Michaels craft store, a basket of orange napkins and bright colored dishes.
The evening began with an appetizer. I’d made sun-dried tomato and goat cheese crostini that were ready and waiting for guests to enjoy upon arrival.
Crostini is an Italian word for toasted breads. They’re a popular food in Italy, as well as here in the United States.
To make crostini, slice a loaf of dense bread very thin(width or length wise), baste each side with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment and bake in the oven at 350 for 25-30 minutes.
Once finished, the toasted breads are usually topped with a variety of ingredients before consumption.
Like I said, I’d made the goat cheese and sun-dried tomato and I also made an artichoke dill crostini.
Artichoke Dill Crostini
Recipe taken from marthastewart.com
2 cans (14 oz each) artichoke hearts in water, rinsed, squeezed and chopped
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 T fresh dill, chopped
salt and pepper
In a bowl, combine artichoke hearts, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and dill; season with salt and pepper. Top crostini with topping.
They were both super easy and super delicious. There wasn’t one crostini left by the time we moved on to our next dish, the crowd had devoured them all.
The next course was a caesar salad. It consisted of crisp romaine lettuce tossed in a light caesar dressing and finished with shavings of fresh parmesan cheese. Before serving, I squeezed a touch of lemon juice onto the salad.
I should mention that if you don’t have a cheese slicer, you can use a vegetable peeler to get the parmesan shavings you desire. It works just as well.
For the main dish I created Tuscan ribolita, a hearty Italian soup/stew. It’s made with pancetta (Italian ham), stewed tomatoes, chicken stock, carrots, onions, celery, kale, cannellini beans, fresh garlic and rosemary.
Ribolita means”reboiled” in Italian. Originally, Tuscan peasants would make it by reheating leftover minestrone or vegetable soup from the previous day. They’d add any leftover bread they had to make it more hearty and last longer.
If you wanted to make your own bread crumbs for this dish, you could do so using the leftover crostini. Simply throw the toasted breads into a food processor or blender and pulse or blend until completely crushed.
I chose to make this dessert because it calls for the use of citrus, plus it’s easy to create and tastes amazing.
This time of year citrus is in season, and with many friends and neighbors having lemon trees, I thought it’d be fun to feature a few recipes that use lemons at this gathering.
The group lingered around the table for quite some time, chatting about food, sharing stories and personal anecdotes.
I read an excerpt from the book, Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist, that speaks to the significance food and gathering around a table can have on the soul. It felt fitting for the evening and it really touched people’s hearts.
At the very end of the evening, each guest left with a treat — a fresh lemon from the tree and the recipe for Land O Lakes English Lemon Shortbread.
I’m pleased to say that my journey with Kitchen Gatherings has just begun!
Last week, I sent out an email invite for my next gathering in early March and it’s ALREADY filled!
I’ve decide to host an additional gathering on Thursday, March 17th 6:45-9 at my home in Costa Mesa. The cost is $24. We’ll be enjoying breakfast for dinner. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in attending.
Thank you to all those who’ve already come to one of my gatherings, it’s truly been a blessing to my soul. I look forward to meeting those of you who have yet to join the fun!