Sunday, October 3, 2010

Perfect Pair Anniversary Dinner

the very first thought that comes to my mind when i hear "luxury dinner party" is prosecco. i can't help it, i love anything sparkly. from sequins to diamonds, shoes to champagne, if it sparkles, chances are i'm into it. when it comes to sparkling wine though, italian prosecco is my hands down favorite.
the second thing that comes to mind for a luxury meal is largely affected by where i live. it must be because i am from maryland that i automatically think of crab meat. luckily, i was able to incorporate both into my dinner party.
i decided on a perfect pair anniversary dinner party to celebrate both my parents and a family friends 35th wedding anniversary. both couples were married on october 4, 1975 at 4pm - one in maryland and the other in colorado. the perfect pair theme of the evening not only represented how perfect both couples are together, but i also chose a different wine for each course to pair with the food. guests wine tastes ranged from the seasoned wine drinkers to a relative wine virgin. this made menu planning all the more fun because i actually learned a lot during my wine pairings research and the guests tasted some new wines and exercised their palates.
perhaps the most important thing when planning a dinner is considering every guests taste. being flexible and accommodating are virtually prerequisites for a hostess. i sent out my menu ideas to those invited ahead of time to get some feedback and ensure no one had any food allergies or food related health concerns. turns out, everyone loves seafood except for one guest so i merely made a chicken breast without the crab and stuffed several mushrooms with cheese instead of shrimp.
keeping fall in mind, i used many ingredients that are currently in season. figs and pears found their way into the appetizers, while sweet potatoes and green beans made perfect accompaniments to the main course, and the ever popular pecans were the star of the show in the pecan pie.
i actually hosted the dinner at my parents house. they live on a old horse farm in a beautiful mid-17th century house that was essentially built for entertaining.
guests enjoyed prosecco and hors d'oeuvres in the formal living room consisting of shrimp stuffed mushrooms, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, and fig, pear, and pecorino romano crustini.
dinner in the formal dining room featured apple, walnut, and buttermilk bleu cheese over field greens with balsamic vinaigrette,
chicken chesapeake, roasted sweet potatoes, and roasted haricots verts and carrots with caramelized shallots.
i chose a chenin blanc viognier to compliment both the chicken and the crab meat.
finally, dessert on the sun porch paired a 10 year port with bourbon pecan pie and bourbon whipped cream with a caramel drizzle. all courses were met with rave reviews and everyone loved the wine pairings as well. not surprisingly, the favorite was the pie and port. after all, everyone loves dessert!
one final touch, guests all left with leftovers and a special anniversary treat - pumpkin butterscotch scones with cinnamon icing to enjoy for breakfast. (they are excellent with coffee!)

a special anniversary cheers to the armacosts and the sprocks. here's to 35 more!

Shrimp Stuffed Mushrooms
(makes 24 mushrooms)

12 oz medium mushrooms, stems removed
1/2 onions, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 tbs rosemary, minced
1 tsp thyme, minced
1 tsp basil, minced
1 1/2 cups cooked shrimp
2 tbs olive oil mayonnaise
1.4 cup grated parmesan cheese

preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. add onions and garlic and saute until tender. add herbs and saute for 1 minute. remove from heat. pulse shrimp in food processor until finely chopped. stir together shrimp, onion mixture, mayo, and cheese. spoon into mushroom caps and bake for 15-20 minutes. serve immediately.

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed (18-25 asparagus)
thinly sliced prosciutto (18-25 slices)

bring water to a boil in large pot. add asparagus and cook for 45 seconds. drain and place asparagus in an ice bath to stop from cooking. wrap each piece of asparagus in a piece of prosciutto. serve chilled.

Fig, Pear, and Pecorino Romano Crustini
(adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

6 dried figs, halved
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons brandy
1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
24 baguette slices, thinly sliced
Olive oil, for drizzling
1 large pear, thinly sliced into 24 slices
1/4 pound pecorino romano, thinly sliced

combine figs, agave, water, and brandy in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes. combine fig mixture with hazelnuts in a small food processor and pulse until combined.

drizzle baguette slices with olive oil and toast. spread a thin layer of fig mixture on toast. top with pear slice and pecorino romano.

Chicken Chesapeake
serves 6

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper
1 lb jumbo lump crabmeat
6 tbs olive oil mayonnaise
1 large egg
4 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp old bay seasoning
2 oz sherry

preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

rinse chicken and pat dry. place in 8x13" pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. pour wine into pan and bake for 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.

meanwhile, whisk together mayonnaise, egg, mustard, old bay, and sherry in a medium bowl until smooth. gently fold in crab meat, being careful not to break up the lumps. spoon crab mixture over chicken and broil on low for 5-10 minutes until just starting to brown. serve immediately.

Roasted Haricots Verts and Carrots with Caramelized Shallots
(serves 4-6 side dishes)

3 carrots, peeled
16 oz haricots verts
5 shallots, thinly sliced
4 tbs olive oil, divided
salt and pepper

preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

julienne carrots so they are roughly the same size as your haricots verts. toss carrots and beans with 2 tbs olive oil, salt, and pepper. roast for 10 minutes.

meanwhile, add 2 tbs of olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. add thinly sliced shallots, salt, and pepper. stir well. cook for 2-3 minutes. reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes until tender and golden.

serve haricots verts and carrots with 1-2 tbs of caramelized shallots per serving.

Bourbon Pecan Pie
adapted from october/november 2010 issue of garden and gun

pie crust:
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup cold butter
3/4 tsp white vinegar
1 small egg

mix flour and salt in a medium bowl. cut in shortening and butter until mixture is about the size of small peas. in a measuring cup, whisk egg lightly and add vinegar. add water to make 1/3 cup total. pour egg mixture into flour mixture and work together forming a ball of dough. do not overwork. cut in half and pat into disks. wrap and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes. (you can freeze other half if only making 1 pie.)

roll out dough disk to fit into 9" pie pan. crimp the edges.

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup sucanat (you can use all sugar if you prefer)
1 1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp whole wheat pastry flour
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs bourbon
1 1/2 tsp melted unsalted butter
2 cups pecan halves

preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

mix together sugars, syrup, salt, flour, and eggs until well combined. add vanilla, bourbon, and butter. fold in pecans and pour into pie shell. bake for 1 hour until browned and toothpick inserted into the center comes out relatively clean. place on cooling rack and allow to set for 2-3 hours.

Pumpkin Butterscotch Scones
(adapted from Annie's Eats)
makes 8 scones

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry four
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup butterscotch chips
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla extract

preheat oven to 400 degree F.

in a medium bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, spices, baking powder, soda and salt. cut in butter with pastry cutter until pieces are the size of small peas. combine buttermilk, pumpkin, and vanilla and pour over dry ingredients. stir together (i use my hand) until dough just comes together. do not overwork or scones will be tough. form into 9" round a using a knife, make marks of where you will cut it into 8 pieces.

bake for 22-25 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. let cool completely, then cut into 8 pieces using guidelines.

1 cup powdered sugar
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. milk

whisk together all ingredients. pour into ziploc bag and cut tip off. drizzle over scones and let harden.


  1. I LOVE your menu. Just voted for you.. I love prosecco too. Best of luck!

  2. Nice idea to have goodie bag for guests. I'll have to remember that for my next 'lux'. Good luck!

  3. great job on your dinner party - the food looks scrumptious! you've got my vote - good luck!

  4. P- you amaze me! love you lots

  5. I think you and i could do some serious damage to a bottle or 2 of prosecco! looks phenom!!!


  6. It all looks amazing! What a wonderful party!!

  7. VOTEDDDDDDD! Good luck! Wish you all the best!

    jen @

  8. Girrrrrl, you had me at PROSECCO. What a lovely idea for a dinner party. And I loved your menu. Kudos! You've got my vote :D

  9. Such a great idea for a party. Nice work!

    Sounding My Barbaric Gulp!

  10. Oh man, if there's one thing I love more than wine, it's food and wine pairings :) It all looks delicious! Good luck!

  11. you rock girlfriend - no wonder I love working with you!

  12. goodies! You are SO smart! Love the pics---wow. And Prosecco... Voigner... and anniversaries!

  13. All of this is wonderful from the beautiful old home, to the great food and wine pairings. GREG

  14. Page - what a lovely tribute! Congrats on such a person-centered celebration! You have my vote - always!

  15. Hooray for love! What a wonderful way to honor these couples!

  16. That is so crazy that both couples got married at the same day/time miles away! I wish I lived in Maryland because I sure do love crab, the chicken sounds delicious! Thanks and voted for ya!

  17. Great story and menu! I love it Page. Just voted for you and Tweeted to my followers. Good luck! :) XO & Namaste

  18. Great menu! And everything looks nicely presented. And I LOVE their house. So charming. I voted!

    Good luck! Fingers crossed for us both to make it through to the next round!

  19. I love that it was a double anniversary celebration--and what a lovely setting! That chicken sounds wonderful: comfort and crab on a plate. I'm in!

  20. That prosecco is one of the best out there, and super reasonable. Love the concept, photos, and recipes I can follow.

  21. I started my post with the same thing! Prosecco! :) You've got my vote!

  22. What a great way to celebrate! Love your menu! Hope we both make it to the next round! :-) You have my vote!

  23. So thoughtful of you to host this in celebration of love and how you used seasonal ingredients to make it all happen!

  24. prosecco! how wonderful...I love it.
    And nice touch with the goodie bags.

  25. What a lovely idea and tribute to the both couples ! Menu looks delicious , will definitely try the fig crostini. Good Luck

  26. I NEED to make those pumpkin butterscotch scones!! Everything looks fabulous. We totally didn't give any of our leftovers away and are still eating them hehe :)


  27. I'm a big fan of bourbon pecan pie so will definitely give your recipe a try. Hope to join you in round four :)

  28. Congrats to your parents and friends on 35 years together! Looks like you really honored the couples with a wonderful meal. Good luck on round 3!

  29. Those shrimp stuffed mushrooms definitely got my vote!

  30. Great celebratory dinner, love the theme and the food looks delicious. You got my vote and good luck!

  31. Congrats Congrats going onto challenge #4!!! Must be exciting for you! Good luck and all the best. Happy Thanksgiving to you! You'll be getting the next vote from me :) Your awesome!

    Have a happy thanksgiving!
    jen @


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