I finally got a table at my place and I wanted to have some friends over for dinner. I was overly ambitions and was unable to decide what to make. To make things easier on myself, I let my guests pick what they wanted. The concept was simple: each of my 5 guests would have to pick an ingredient, and I would have to make a dish central to that ingredient.

It was a lot of fun. I discovered a lot of great recipes and websites. I eventually ended up choosing dishes that I felt expanded my culinary horizon. I was even able to figure out wine pairings.

The ingredients my guests picked:
-Pineapple (they choose Chicken as an alternate in case no one covered any ‘basics’)
-Skirt Steak

This is the menu I came up with:

Bacon-Wrapped Pineapple
Sweet & Sour Pineapple Chicken Sushi
Pineapple-Tempura Crunch Roll: one filled with sweet potato, the other with shrimp
Grilled Vegetable Bruschetta (I used small bell peppers, garlic, and onion)
Sparkling Pomegranate Punch

Cilantro-Lime Shrimp on a Bed of Lettuce
Sauvignon Blanc or Arnold Palmer

Butternut Squash and Mascarpone Gnocchi
Sauvignon Blanc or Arnold Palmer

Skirt Steak with Roasted Potatoes & Vegetables
Shiraz or Arnold Palmer

Pomegranate Truffles (rolled in dutch coco or powered sugar)
Oreo Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich, inspired by
Porto or Assorted teas

The bruschetta and Oreo waffles were dishes that I threw in as a bonus. I featured pineapple 3 ways not only to demonstrate its versatility, but it gave my guests a variety to much on when they came in. I knew that they would love the bacon-wrapped pineapple. I am not a bacon eater at all, and they were pleasantly surprised I made it.

I was unable to take photos while I was in the process of cooking– guess I was too busy.
One of my friends did mange to snap a few photos of the food.

Pineapple Wrapped Bacon


Sushi 3 ways: Sweet and sour pineapple chicken sushi (top), Shrimp tempura pineapple sushi (middle), Sweet potato tempura pineapple sushi (bottom)

Grilled pepper Bruchetta


Pomegranate Truffles


Oreo Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich

Aside from a few boo boos, the food was a hit. Everything tasted great and it was a positive learning experience. I learned that sometimes a test run is necessary, and I need to shape up my sushi making skills.

Other tasting/cooking notes:
-For the sushi rice I cheated and used microwavable sticky rice I had (you can find at your local Asian market) and added the vinegar and sugar. I did not fan the vinegar in so the rice did not have the sushi rice shine.
-I added way too much lime juice to the shrimp, making it really acidic. The wine pairing was successful in cutting out that acidity and neutralizing the taste. Sometimes following the recipe to a T counts for something (I love to improv, but now I know to beware!)
-The pomegranate truffles were great but it was a bit too tart, even with the dutch coco on the outside. We figured out that powered sugar worked well in calming the taste down. If you love chocolate and wine, this is a great dessert to have.
-Store-bought waffle mix is easy to hack. I simply combined crushed Oreo cookies (I separated out the cream filling), mixed it in with the dry mix, and followed the box directions. They cooked just like regular waffles.

Overall I’d make everything again. I’ll do isolated cooking run on each of the dishes and take pictures so you can see how yummy it really is!

Up next: I hope to do another dinner with another set of friends. I might even feature homemade ice cream since I got an ice cream maker for Christmas!

what’s your next culinary adventure? Feel free to share!

4 thoughts on “Pushing my Culinary Skills: Formal Dinner

  1. I blog frequently and I truly appreciate your content. The article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to book mark your website and keep checking for new information about once per week. I subscribed to your Feed as well.

  2. Wow, I’m impressed by your menu! What a fun idea. Glad you were able to salvage the shrimp with the wine. And I see some great new ideas for my own menus. Thanks for sharing them.

    1. Thanks! I wanted to create a menu of items that you don’t normally stumble upon. I’m totally going to do more of them since it was so fun. I just need to have more prepare ahead items.

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