So, the dinner party happened last night (Saturday). It was much smaller than originally intended, but despite all the disappointment and frustration, everything went well. The food turned out gorgeously and the company was great as well.
I didn’t prepare appetizers, aside from some simple chips and salsa because the dinner was supposed to start early on account of the cancelling couple’s children. Since they weren’t coming, I rescheduled for a bit later, but I figured there would be more than enough food to get us through the evening. I made a lasagna using this recipe, modified slightly. I changed the ratio of Italian Sausage to ground beef to 1:1, and did the same with the ricotta and cottage cheeses, rather than just using one in my cheese mixture. I had tested out the recipe a few weeks earlier, and it was just delicious this time as it was then. I don’t think I’ll ever make another lasagna recipe again — it’s definitely a keeper.
To go along with the lasagna I made a Caesar salad, with this dressing recipe, which I also modified, using a bit less anchovy paste, including the egg, and adding a bit more Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces. I know that some people disagree with using raw egg in salad dressings and other things, but I like the fact that it adds creaminess without the tartness that comes along with using mayonnaise.
The final element of the main course was the garlic bread. I bought a very nice, dense baguette from a local bakery and just winged the garlic butter. Grabbed about 1/2 cup of softened butter, some chopped garlic, Parmesan cheese, parsley and salt, mixed it around in a bowl a bit and voila! It turned out beautifully, and the four of us wound up eating the whole half baguette I’d prepared. There’s lots of garlic butter left over, so I’m looking forward to having it again some time in the next few days as well.
The highlight of the meal, or at least what I was most excited about was the dessert. While none of the elements of the cake were particularly difficult to make, it’s probably the most complex baking project I’ve tried so far. It wound up being slightly lopsided, but it still looked gorgeous and was heavenly to eat.
I used Dutch cocoa that my mother had bought previously for some flour-less chocolate cake recipes, and the result was an intense chocolate flavour (especially since the recipe called for coffee as the main liquid over milk), which went beautifully with the raspberries and cream cheese icing. I would make this again in a heartbeat, and hopefully with more practice I’ll be able to get it a little more even. The most difficult aspect of making this cake, was cutting the cake evenly into two layers. I’m thinking about making just the cake element again so I can practice cutting it (and also to have some rich cake treats in the freezer since it’d be delicious all on its own).
All in all, I’d say that the dinner was a tremendous success. It was a great learning experience for me and I’m glad that I now have a better idea of the amount of work that goes in to making a dinner like this. Totally delicious and totally worth it. Next time, I’ll invite better guests.