There’s nothing more heartwarming than a small, dinner party amongst friends. This week I enjoyed such a gathering with five women “of a certain age.” We call ourselves, “Women Who Eat Out.” But this week, we ate in, when Wilma, one of our group, invited us to have our monthly dinner at her home.
Our gracious and undaunted hostess surprised us by cooking a meal based on recipes from Ruth Reichle’s new cookbook: My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life. You remember Reichle as the former food critic for the NYT, who would dress in various costumes to conceal her identify in restaurants that she reviewed. I was excited at coming this close to a Ruth Reichle menu. Could it be this was really Ruth Reichle dressed as Wilma? Hmm….
We started the meal with piping hot popovers, always a daring item for a host to serve, and an arugula salad with pecan and cranberries lightly dressed with Reichle’s Roquefort dressing. She advises smashing a small bit of garlic with salt and pepper, then mashing in a good blue cheese to form a paste. To that she adds 4 tablespoons olive oil, followed by 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar and adjusts seasoning to taste. Unlike a Ranch dressing, it’s a more delicate, less obtrusive dressing.
The pièce de résistance was the entrée: short ribs and gravy, spinach, and twice-baked potato. The secret to Reichle’s spinach can be found here. (Think butter, garlic, lemon and anchovies). Find her recipe for these incredibly tender, tasty short ribs here.
We viewed the city’s skyline from the wide picture windows as we finished the evening with carrot cake, ice cream and demitasse. As it turned out Wilma was really Wilma, though she did a darn good interpretation of Ruth Reichle’s cooking and one I’m certain the famous food expert would approve.
Whatever inspires you to have a small dinner party (a recipe, new dinnerware, or holiday), it’s a wonderful excuse to break from the everyday to the elegant. To set a fine table with pieces you love and surround it with those you enjoy is a wonderful way to celebrate friendship anytime of the year.