Sunday, September 23, 2018
Cooking

Menu for a mobile dinner party

The goal

There won't be one central table for this dinner party; maybe no one will really be sitting at all. Think more "party" than "dinner," a casual night of game-playing and backyard hanging. You need a spread that can be mostly handheld, food your guests can eat without a knife, fork, or even a plate.

The method

Opt for foods that lend themselves to being eaten by hand, and have plenty of aluminum foil around to avoid excessive drippage. Corral guests in one part of the house — the patio, the backyard, the living room — so clean-up is contained to one spot. Have paper or plastic plates, plus disposable forks and plenty of paper towels. Go ahead and set out all of the food at once in a central location, and tell guests to help themselves.

The menu

Pomegranate Mint Spritz

Fill your largest serving container with an infused water that can be boosted with alcohol depending on your guests' tastes. To the container, add 1 (16-ounce) bottle pomegranate juice; 4 lemons, sliced (squeeze them a bit as you add them to release juice); a handful of fresh mint (leaves removed from stems); and 1 liter seltzer water (plain, or flavor of your choice). Set out some vodka or gin, and additional sliced lemon and mint leaves for garnish.

Balsamic Caprese Skewers

Simple and classic. Onto a wooden skewer, thread a 1/2-inch cube of mozzarella cheese (stores also sell mozz in similarly sized balls; look for those if you can), a grape tomato, and a fresh mint leaf folded in half. Repeat once more. Once you have enough skewers for everyone, lay them out on a serving platter and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper just before serving.

Falafel or chicken pita

This recipe offers two options — a vegetarian chickpea falafel, or a ground chicken patty — served in a cozy pita pocket. Both use the same method, and you can just repeat the recipe twice with each of the different proteins. These can be made up to three days in advance and served at room temperature if desired. Otherwise, heat in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with lots of feta cheese and a simple tzatziki sauce: 1 cup plain greek yogurt combined with 1/2 cup chopped cucumber, 1 tablespoon dried dill, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, salt and pepper.

Roasted Vegetable Skewers

You can use whatever skewerable veggies you have, but I think hearty potatoes pair well with the pitas. To make, cut red or sweet potatoes (one per person) into 1-inch cubes and place in a bowl. Coat with olive oil, salt and pepper, and cook on a baking sheet in a 425-degree oven for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool slightly, thread onto skewers and serve.

Oven S'mores

If you have a fire, gather some graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate bars and make s'mores the traditional way. If you don't, prep these Oven S'mores before the party, then cook during dinner for a melty after-meal treat. To make, combine 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup whole-wheat flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a bowl. In another bowl, mix 1 cup unsalted butter, 3/4 cup light brown sugar and 2 tablespoons honey until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture and 2 cups chocolate chips or chunks, and mix until combined. Turn out dough onto a floured surface, and roll into a large sheet to about 1/8-inch thickness. Using the top of a drinking glass or a cookie cutter, cut out circles and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cook in a 350-degree oven for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. When you're ready to serve, top half of the chocolate crackers with a large marshmallow. Top with another cracker to make a sandwich, then wrap in aluminum foil. Bake on same baking sheet in a 325-degree oven for 10 minutes, until marshmallow has melted. Serve right away.

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