Cakes, Pies and Tarts · Dips, Dressings and Sauces · Main Dishes · Nuts · Seafood · Side Dishes · Sweet Treats · Veggies

Now It’s Your Turn

Sea Bass and Couscous-The Duo Dishes
The original dish from B & B in D.C.

You may have already guessed that we love ourselves a dinner party.  Love it!  From planning the menu, shopping for the groceries and assembling all the goodies in the kitchen to passing out the plates, laughing with friends, and of course sipping on some wine.  Our parties usually involve lots of wine–that’s just how we do.  Then there’s the dancing around the kitchen when the food tastes just right.  Our parties always involve lots of dancing…tasting and dancing.  It all brings us complete joy. The best part of the whole thing is sitting down after all the hard work and taking that first bite.  What’s better?  We just don’t know!

These dinner gatherings usually involve us hosting and cooking everything, but it wasn’t too long ago we were on the East coast and invited to a dinner party where the whole meal was prepared by someone else–a lovely couple by the names of Brooke and Ben.  We love these parties just as much–the ones where we arrive and just eat.  It really was wonderful handing over the apron and being the guest for a change. The food looked absolutely beautiful and tasted so delectable that we had no choice but to recreate a similar feast for our friends a couple of weeks ago.  We observed all of the food prep during the first party and took notes of the hosts’ cooking prowess. This post captures our version of that special meal Brooke and Ben created.  We did our own little spin to each dish of course, but the essence of the original feast was there, even their idea of cooking most of the meal “en papillote”.  So fancy.

We had leftover rosemary spiced almonds chilling in the freezer that we used in every dish.  Of course plain almonds work just as well, but these certainly added an extra level of flavor we weren’t expecting. Steaming food in parchment paper is not only easy, it’s a great way to cook just about anything.  And it’s very healthy. Plus it just looks fancier and more involved than it really is–a great way to show off to your friends and family, or that “certain someone” you want to impress with your cooking expertise.

If there is anything we want you to get from this post, it is to go out and throw your own dinner party, especially if you’ve never hosted one before.  Now is the time.  Do it this weekend!  Make whatever you want.  Just do it!  And if you want to invite us, we will definitely be there with our bottles of wine in tow, ready to dish on it all!

Red Snapper, Thyme Pesto and Honey Grapefruit Salad

Red Snapper with Thyme Pesto and Couscous – Serves 6 to 8

1 box of whole wheat couscous
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped
8 ounces artichoke hearts (save juice in the can)
1 cup water or broth
1/3 cup white wine
Zest of 1 lemon
2 pounds red snapper (or any white fish)

2 bundles fresh thyme, about 6 tablespoons
1 cup toasted almonds, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup shredded Pecorino Romano
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt
Black pepper

1. Make thyme pesto by combining all ingredients in a food processor until fairly smooth.  Scrape into a bowl and set aside.

2. For couscous, in a small bowl, mix the grains with parsley, garlic, coriander, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning.

3. Spread a large piece of parchment paper on a flat cookie sheet or pan, so it covers the whole surface.  With artichoke hearts, make a wall around the parchment paper so a large oval forms (make sure to leave an inch or so of space near the edges so the parchment paper can be easily sealed).

4. Spread couscous mixture evenly in the artichoke hearts.  Top with cherry tomatoes and almonds.

5. Mix the water or broth with the remaining juices from the artichoke hearts, along with the wine and pour evenly over couscous.  Place fish fillets over couscous in an even layer.

7. Evenly spread pesto over fish and seal with another piece of parchment paper, forming an enclosed bag by folding in the edges all around.  Bake for 35 minutes in a preheated oven at 350 degrees, or until couscous is no longer crunchy.

Honey Grapefruit Salad Dressing – Approximately 1 cup

4 tablespoons honey
Juice of 1 grapefruit
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Kosher salt
Black pepper

1.  For the dressing, whisk the ingredients above until smooth.  Salt and pepper to taste.

We also layered slices of fresh Pecorino Romano and more almonds on the salad greens, which paired nicely with the dressing.

Molten Chocolate Cake
We used a Hipcooks recipe for these gooey cakes and served them with vanilla ice cream and Bailey's Irish Cream.

Click HERE for printable recipes.


41 thoughts on “Now It’s Your Turn

  1. You were over here and did not tell me? I always am prepared for guests! Sounds like you could have used another bottle of vino from my cellar 🙂

  2. I totally love all citrus fruit too and I think it ads great things to a lot of dishes. Unfortunately my guy doesn’t like it so much so I always have to be careful with putting in lemon or lime or even oranges in any dishes…:( This cake sounds wonderful!

  3. Ooh! I’ve never cooked en papillote for a crowd–only for individual servings. Very fancy!

    We will be moving into a house at the end of the month that will actually have counter space. Dinner party time, here we come:)

  4. where do i start? everything looks delicious…but especially love the dessert. i just made molten lava cake and promised myself i will have only one serving. after reading your post, i’m having another one! thanks for sharing…! awesome dishes1

  5. Dinner parties are about the food. But even more so, they are about the company. You could serve the simplest dishes, and still have the time of your life with good friends and loving family enjoying it all around a table. Here’s to more dinner parties — even in this economy.

  6. Your menu choices are amazing, and I envy you your eating lives. With all that tasting, dancing, and wine drinking, your kitchen sounds like nothing but good times. Thanks for sharing these wonderful recipes!

  7. mmmm molten cakes….oh yes.
    when we finally, finally move into our new house the first thing I am doing is throwing a wonderful, festive dinner party. can I get an Amen?

  8. A fabulous dinner party for sure!!! I have been planning my next dinner party but I haven’t finalized the menu yet!! This is great inspiration, thanks!!

  9. Everything looked incredible – I had to avert my eyes from the molten cake – too tempting. I love pesto in all its forms and thyme pesto with red snapper I can imagine is fabulous!

  10. This red snapper dish looks fabulous. What a great dinner party dish. And I just adore couscous and pesto. How delicious! And those molten chocolate cakes look totally delish. I love getting to sit back and enjoy a dish once it’s done!

  11. Seriously, I would have been tres rude at your gathering and headed straight for dessert! 🙂

    And yes, I agree, dinner parties are the best.

  12. The dishes all look great – especially the fish! And I’m taking you up on your challenge. We WILL have a dinner party, and we WILL have it on Saturday! 🙂

  13. You know, I’ve never thrown a dinner party. Probably because I’ve never had an apartment big enough to have more than three people, total, in it at once. That all looks mad good. 🙂

  14. I love dinner parties, I just love entertaining in general. I tend to overdo it though, I’m always looking for ways to simplify.

  15. Just yesterday I was complaining to a friend how depressed I was that I can’t host dinner parties–I have no proper dining table (nor do i have room for one even if i did have one). So i just have to day dream about imaginary dinner parties that I would have if i had a bigger apartment. le sigh!

  16. Oooh, looks yumm-o-licious! I’m loving the idea of a dinner party. I’d love to come to one of yours because it sounds right up my alley.

    I thought I was the only one that did a little dance when food is bomb diggity. Do you sing too? Oh, honey, I’ll make up a song for ya in minute. LOL!

  17. My family always has a lot of wine at our dinner parties too! 🙂

    This looks great — I need to try to cook in parchment more often. Especially right now since I’m trying to health it up a little!

  18. That is fancy! I love doing dishes like that, easy clean up.

    I do a chicken in parchment, just chicken breast, julienned carrots, and potatoes, salt, pepper, whatever other spices you want. The chicken always turns out so great this way and I never seem to over cook it either using this method.

    Nice dinner!

  19. OOOHHH AAAAHHHH A thyme pesto, how wonderful, and your grapefruit salad,,,, so perfect!! The whole shebang is just terrific!

  20. I love everything about this menu! I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve thrown a dinner party that was not a family event but as I gain more confidence in my skills, I’m feeling the urge! Cooking en papillote is something I’ve always wanted to try thanks for a great recipe to start!

  21. A fantastic dinner party! Pesto and couscous wow Mediterranean cuisine mmmmm!!
    The salad dressing looks very appetizing….dessert chocolate cake…well well speechless, drooling here.. right now go to lunch 🙂

    All the best!

  22. I love dinner parties too! My friends love it even more when I host a dinner party because they get to eat a lot of food!

    Cooking and prepping all of the dishes for the party can be a bit of a pain but it’s all worth it in the end!

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