|A few weeks ago, we hosted a dinner for Mr. Tess’s “new” brother, his wife, their neice, and her boyfriend. We don’t know these folks very well, and I get nervous whenever we have guests. I wanted to have most of the dinner ready when they arrived, just in case an unanticipated kitchen disaster meant I’d have to resort to pizza delivery… Yes, Mr. Tess always tells me that it’s the company and not the food that is important, but none the less, I wanted to make a nice evening where things went according to plan.
My solution was a menu which I could prepare the evening or morning before, with only a small bit of close attention in the kitchen just before serving.
|An appetizer, and perhaps some wine (which they made and brought!) helped everyone to relax, chat, and get accustomed to each other. Sometimes this is my favorite part of a meal: casual time to wonder about and talk. The night before the dinner I made Ms. Shimbo’s edamame dip with rice crackers. It is made with fresh soybeans (edamame), feta cheese, yogurt, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Something almost familiar, but with a tasty twist.|
|One of my favorite recipes in the Japanese Kitchen is hiyashi shabu no goma-dare: summer shabu shabu beef with creamy sesame sauce.
This sauce is made with sesame paste, dashi, mirin, and shoyu. It keeps well, covered and refrigerated overnight.
|In the morning, I prepared the vegetables and fruit. Roasted the red, yellow, and orange peppers, cut green onion “sticks,” quickly blanched asparagus, okra, and yellow squash, peeled and sliced papaya, kiwi, and mango, and Mr. Tess segmented a grapefruit. People really liked that grapefruit! And the okra!
Just before dinner, we arranged the fruit and vegetables on serving platters. Mr. Tess made rice and I swished-cooked the purchased thinly sliced beef.
|While the meat chilled, I made oyster chowder using frozen oysters, soy milk, and miso.|
|We set the two platters of fruit and vegetables on the table, with two bowls of dipping sauce: people served themselves as they liked, sipped soup, and ate rice. For dessert, we had matcha ice cream and slices of Korean chestnut bean jelly.
(I was surprised that the niece’s boyfriend liked the candy so much that he took the package home with him so he could buy some for himself… ≥^!^≤