Great Hosts

Do you ever visit a friend and feel so at home that you just wish you could stay? Maybe move in? I think there is a little bit of art to being a great host. And lots of practice helps, too.

I felt this way when I went to visit our friends near Ft. Worth. They have recently moved there from San Diego and I was excited to see their new house and welcome them to Texas! It was close to my birthday, so Christy went above and beyond for the weekend…it was a perfect getaway. There were gifts and spa appointments and fantastic food and lots of lounging in the pool and playing with the new puppy. I did NOT want to drive home on Sunday afternoon.

Since one of the meals included a recipe from The Pioneer Woman – and if you know me, you know what a fan I am of PW – I thought I would share some of the yummy meals I was served while I was there.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Mushrooms. Garlic. Brie. Butter. Oh my. I could probably live on these. Here’s some step-by-step instructions on how to make them. And with a recipe this simple you could change the cheese or change the herbs for all kinds of variations on flavor. Seriously delicious.

We were happy to have those little gems to snack on…Christy and I got a little carried away doing nothing in the pool and by the time we started on dinner we realized it probably wouldn’t be ready until nearly 10 o’clock! Not that anyone was going to mind that, by the way. Braised short ribs that could bubble away for hours and hours.

Apologies for the picture quality – or lack thereof. I was taking photos with my phone so I could taunt my husband about all the yumminess he was missing out on. I know: not nice.

And the first night I was there…grilled swordfish under a fabulous relish/sauce next to mashed potatoes. Totally scrumptious.

A really organized food blogger would have gotten copies of these last recipes ahead of time and posted them along with much nicer photos of the dishes. But I’m not that blogger…so we’ll have to just wait for Christy to read this and post links for us. OK? And that relish on top of the fish – seriously – you want to make that and use it on anything. Everything. It’s so yummy.

Here’s to great hosts!

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3 thoughts on “Great Hosts

  1. Christy Nielson

    Well, here’s to a great guest! 🙂 We had such a good time and look forward to doing it again very, very soon.

    In the meantime, here are the recipes for the short ribs and the roasted tomato relish.

    Short Ribs:
    I have used two different recipes and love them both.

    http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1714552

    or

    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Braised-Short-Ribs-13048 (this is the one we made for this visit)

    Grilled Fish on Peperonata
    Note: the ingredient list makes this seem intense, but it’s really easy and SO delicious! We got this recipe at a cooking class we took at Great News – http://www.great-news.com/- in San Diego. It comes from Mary Ann Vitale, Executive Chef at La Taverna Restaurant in La Jolla.

    –Fish–
    1 T sea salt
    2 T fresh thyme, chopped
    2 T lemon juice
    1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
    4 steaks such as swordfish or halibut (about 7 oz. and 1-inch thick each)

    –Peperonata–
    5 T extra virgin olive oil
    2 olive oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
    3 cloves of garlic, minced
    1 red onion, diced
    1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
    1 yellow pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
    1 small eggplant (about 8 oz.), cut into 1-inch pieces (can sub equal amounts of zucchini for eggplant)
    1 c roasted tomatoes (recipe to follow)
    1/2 c green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
    2 T capers, drained and rinsed
    2 T finely chopped fresh chives

    –Roasted Tomatoes–
    2 lbs cherry tomatoes
    Salt
    6 T olive oil
    2 T finely chopped garlic
    6 T finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
    1/2 t sugar
    1 c water, or as needed

    This makes one cup, more than you need for this recipe. Use the leftovers as a yummy sauce for pasta, a sandwich spread, or on toasted baguette. This can be made well ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator (or even frozen).

    To make the roasted tomatoes, preheat the oven to 425. Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise. Sprinkle the cut side with salt. Brush the bottom of a roasting pan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Put the tomatoes in the pan, cut side down, and place in hot oven until they release their juices. Remove from the oven and turn the tomatoes over, and evenly sprinkle the garlic, parsley and sugar over them. Reduce the heat to 325 and continue cooking, adding 1/4 c water, as needed, as the tomatoes try out. After 30-45 minutes and 3-4 additions of water, the tomatoes will begin to caramelize. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits, add the rest of the oil and stir to combine.

    To prepare the fish, combine the salt, thyme, lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl. Spread the mixture over both sides of each fish steak. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.

    To prepare the peperonata, heat 2 T of the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan or Dutch oven. Add the anchovy and onion, stir well and cook until the onion begins to color. Add remaining oil, peppers, eggplant (or zucchini) and cook, stirring often, for about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the green beans, capers and garlic. Stir well and reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook until soft and delicious (about 20-30 minutes).

    During the last 15 minutes of the veggies cooking, preheat a grill pan or grill. Pat the fish dry with paper towels and place the fish on a well-oiled grill rack. Grill, turning once, until opaque and firm to the touch, about 5 minutes each side.

    To serve, place a liberal heaping of peperonata on each plate and a fish steak on top. Sprinkle with chives. This can be served warm, or at room temperature for a really delicious picnic!

  2. gatheraroundthetable

    See what I mean about great hosts? She even finished my blog post for me!

    Thank you Christy!! These are great recipes and I can attest to how super-yum everything was. We should start planning our next visit…

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