12.24.2014

When Harry & Sally Met Seinfeld for Dinner

That was us minus the groovy clothing
Over the weekend, Mike and I hosted a sub-section of Bozeman’s A-List for a dinner party. I always love entertaining in my home, especially when I find the motivation to serve a real meal. Potluck gatherings and bring-your-own BBQs, which are extremely popular in Bozeman, tend to get old so assembling this group for a sit-down meal was a refreshing change of pace. Call me old-fashion, but there is something really nice about sitting around the table to share a meal.
It is easier to interact on a more meaningful level and no one gets left out of the conversation. I also like knowing that everyone who comes to my dinner party can truly enjoy a night out without figuring out what to bring or hovering over a BBQ grill while trying to socialize or wondering if they will get a enough or the right kinds of things to eat.
Seven people, Mike and I included, were at the party and it was a good mix of folks. Jay and Åsa, who I am just becoming friendly with, were able to make it to my place for the first time, and Dave D was back from Vietnam for the holidays. Jen and Steve are new to town so it was nice to introduce them to people. Interestingly, I did gymnastics with Jen a billion years ago and other than a few exchanges on Facebook over the years, we hadn’t been in-touch until she moved to Bozeman late this past fall.

Some of the guests were meeting one another for the first time, and I always like to get people together in this manner. I trust my instinct about who will get along and am seldom wrong. This was no exception. Everyone clicked, and we had a lively conversation both during cocktails and over dinner itself.

Below is the menu for this dinner, which other than passing mention has little to do with the Seinfeld series or the movie “When Harry Met Sally.” As this menu should prove, you don't have to be Martha Stewart to host friends for dinner.

Menu for the “When Harry & Sally Meet Seinfeld for Dinner” Dinner Party

The Big Salad
Watch a segment of this Seinfeld episode for the reference.

The A-List recommends using fresh spinach. Add some key veggies and one or two bulky items (Cheese, nuts, avocados, etc.). As always, salad dressing is served on the side. (“When Harry Met Sally” references here and here.)

Mike made these for the first time. They were easy to prepare and enjoyed by everyone. The chickpeas and cumin added hint of Indian flavoring to the dish and Mike added a soupçon of Parmesan cheese to the recipe.  He used decent size zucchini (one per person) so I imagine you’d have to tweak the amount of filing you prepare as the recipe calls for small zucchini. Finally, to accommodate a gluten-free guest, he used quinoa and rice in place of the couscous.

Jazzy Gluten Free Cornbread
This was a big hit. I don’t have the recipe but if you search for gluten-free cornbread on the web, you should come up with lots of ideas. Thanks to Jen and Steve for bringing it!

To-Die-For Salmon Cakes
·      1 pound of baked salmon
·      1 2/3 cup of bread crumbs. (Chef’s note: I used these breadcrumbs.  No one really knew what “panko style” was all about or if another style would have been preferable but they worked fine.)
·      Spicy seafood seasoning. Vary amount according to taste.
·      1/3 cup of diced red peppers
·      ¼ a cup of diced scallions
·      Fresh cilantro, big and leafy or diced, enough to suit your taste
·      2 eggs

1.    Bake the salmon.
2.    Shred the salmon and add 2/3 cups of breadcrumbs, the red pepper, scallions and cilantro.
The A-List suggests: I prefer to put the spice on the salmon before baking it but you could choose to put it directly into the mixture.
3.    Mix in the eggs so they coat the ingredients. Eggs are key to getting the cakes to hold together.
4.    Shape into patties.
5.    Using the remaining cup of breadcrumbs, coat each salmon cake and transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet.
6.    Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
7.    Serve to the delight of your guests.

I was able to get seven medium sized cakes out to this recipe, one for each guest. Make larger cakes if this will constitute the bulk of your meal.

Midnight Chocolate Fondue
I think Sally would have found this orgasmic. No one at my party did or even tried to fake it but people were ooohing and aaahing . Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips are the key to the rich, decadent flavor.
  • Approximately 12 ounces of chocolate chips, split 50/50 between the Ghirardelli mentioned about and semi-sweet chips
  •  ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • Sliced tart apples for dipping. I used Granny Smith apples.
1.    Combine all ingredients in a double-boiler and place on your stove over medium heat.
2.    Stir regularly until melted.
3.    Pour into your fondue pot.
The A-List suggests: I used a small ceramic fondue pot, which sat directly over the flame. If you have this set up, you’ll need to keep an eye on the pot and stir occasionally as the candle keeps the chocolate warmer than you’d think.