Weeknight Dinner for Company

I love to feed people. Cooking is my passion, and I like eating too, but I think the best part of the whole process is feeding people.

Over the weekend, we had visitors, Howard’s sister and her family. We had a nice visit. Actually, we always have a nice visit with them, here or at their house. Actually, I have to admit that we mostly ate out, but I did make one good meal.

I often try new recipes when we have company. I recently picked up the newest book by Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That? Lots of the recipes are like recipes I already have, but everything looks so perfect and inspiring in the pictures. I made lemon chicken and couscous with pine nuts. I’m not sure which I liked better. I know I’ll be making both recipes again. They both came together quick enough for a weeknight dinner.

I used a mix of breasts, thighs, and legs because you never know what kind of pieces people like best. I also tuned down the garlic a little bit, though it was still really garlicky. There was a surprising amount of pan juices, which I’ve frozen and plan to use for making rice another time.

On Saturday, we went down to the North End of Boston, the Italian section, to wander around and have lunch. The North End itself is so vibrant. There are so many people walking around, both tourists and residents. Several years ago, Howard and I went on a North End Market Tour with Michele Topor. Whenever we go to that neighborhood, we visit some of the shops we were introduced to on the tour.

For lunch, we lucked out and got a table at The Daily Catch, a tiny seafood restaurant on Hanover Street. I counted twenty seats, and they were all filled. The kitchen is right there in the same small room. They have the best fried calamari, not surprising as they’re also known as Boston’s original calamari café. They also serve huge portions of pasta right in the skillets they are cooked in. We ordered an assortment of dishes and shared it all.

After lunch, we wandered some more. We wanted to show off how pretty Boston looks now that the Big Dig is over, the elevated highway has been torn down, and the inviting open space connects the two parts of the city that were separated for nearly 50 years. I’m still getting used to the new look myself.

Our final stop was for a snack of cannoli and espresso. We were going to get the cannolis at Modern Pastry, which I prefer over Mike’s, but our group’s patience was shorter than the line. We headed over to Maria’s Pastry Shop, a bit off the main drag, where the crowd was smaller, but the cannoli is still delicious.

Lemon Chicken
Adapted from Ina Garten’s How Easy Is That?
Serves 4 – 6

3 lbs chicken parts (mix of breasts, thighs, and legs, whatever your favorites are)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/3 cup white wine
Zest from 2 lemons
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp chicken stock
1½ tsp dried oregano
Sprigs of fresh thyme
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, just to cook lightly. Remove from heat. Add white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, chicken broth, and oregano. Pour the sauce into a 13×9 baking dish.

Arrange the chicken, skin side up, in the pan. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Scatter thyme springs over the chicken, and tuck the lemon wedges between the chicken pieces.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is done. Remove from the oven, cover the pan with foil, and let it rest for 10 minutes. Serve with pan juices.

Couscous with Pine Nuts
Adapted from Ina Garten’s How Easy Is That?
Serves 4 – 6

1 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped
1½ cups chicken stock
1 cup couscous
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
¼ cup fresh minced parsley

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the onion, and cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes until tender and translucent. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Let it sit for 10 minutes to cook through. Add the pine nuts and parsley, and fluff with a fork to combine.


Posted on 8 November 2010, in General and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. The couscous recipe is very close to the recipe of a common south Indian snack (or breakfast dish). Made from semolina.

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