Sunday, January 12, 2014

Catching up with Friends

We love spending time with our friends and only wish we could get together with them more often. Last night we had our friends Mark & Terri and Brian & Crystal over for dinner. They have ski cabins next door to us in Ellicottville; they live in Toronto. We hadn't seen them in a while, so getting caught up over dinner and drinks made for an incredible evening. From the moment everyone arrived until the moment they left, we laughed and boy did we laugh! Conversations ranged from cars in ditches to undone belt buckles, from porcupines to cow carcasses, from an unforeseen - let's call it -"spill" on an antique rug to trying new things in Mexico, oh and let's not forget "Andrea has a blog!!!" I know, ya had to be there to get the humor but those were just some of the stories shared that made us laugh until we cried! I was pretty confident that even if my halibut dinner turned out awful, it didn't matter because everyone was just having a good ole time!

Our evening began with big pours of wine and whiskey which was paired with an elaborate cheese platter brought by Mark & Terri.  They never fail us with the cheese, always selecting the finest. For dinner I served "Baked Halibut over Sautéed Spinach, Roasted Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives and Red Onions.  Goat Cheese Israeli Couscous was served on the side, along with crusty bread."  Brian & Crystal brought a delicious side, "sautéed shrimp with red pepper and garlic" which was a perfect compliment to my dish.  Dessert was simple, sponge candy made from a local chocolatier named Watson's.

I chose to cook this dinner because I've been making it for years, it's full of flavor, it's healthy and it's sooo easy to make. When I entertain, I cook meals that don't require me to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, away from my guests.  Within 30 minutes the meal was prepped, cooked and served. Salute to good food, good friends and good laughs!

Baked Halibut over Sauteed Spinach, Roasted Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives & Red Onion with a side of Goat Cheese Israeli Couscous

Serves 6

For Halibut: 

6 4 oz halibut
1 lb of cherry tomatoes
12 oz fresh baby spinach
4 oz kalamata olives sliced in half
1 small red onion sliced
olive oil
3 tb minced garlic
1 lemon 
salt n pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place halibut in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil mixture (mix 1/8 cup olive oil, 1/2 t lemon zest and salt n pepper, set aside. Place tomatoes, olives, onion and a half of squeezed lemon with 1/4 cup of olive oil,  1 tb garlic, salt n pepper on a baking pan and mix. Bake/roast tomato mixture in oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown and tomatoes have bursted open. In meantime, heat olive oil and 2 tb garlic in a large saute pan.  Add spinach and 1/2 squeezed lemon juice until wilted. When tomato mixture is done add it to the wilted spinach and mix.  Set aside covered. Now bake halibut for 10 minutes. when done place halibut over sautéed spinach and tomato mixture.

For couscous:

8 oz Israeli cous cous
3 cups of chicken stock
2 oz goat cheese

Over medium to high heat bring 3 cups of chicken stock to a boil in a pan.  Add couscous and stir, turn to low heat and cover for 15 minutes, add goat cheese salt n pepper and stir.  Add a little water if needed.

Food Impressions:

Terri: "Oh my gosh Andrea, this is sooo good. You made this amazing dish look so effortless." ( I knew Terri really liked the dish when she used her bread to soak up every last morsel!) 

Mark: "This is fantastic, everything you make is always out of this world." 

Crystal:  "Delicious! What is this type of couscous is this? How did you make this spinach? What did you put on the halibut?"  "Im not a fan of kalamata olives but I get why they were used in this dish." (I knew Crystal liked it based on how many questions she asked about how I made the dish. So I told her she could find the recipe on my new blog!)

Brian: Unfortunately, only after a few bites he had to leave to take care of "a spill" on the rug next door.  By the time he returned his food was cold, I offered to reheat his plate but he said "oh no, not necessary, this is even delicious cold."

Dave: (He was so busy talking that I don't think he commented on what he thought of the dish!)

Andrea (me): Everyone was very complimentary about my dish and my cooking in general (I am a big sucker for cooking compliments so I was like "go on friends - no need to stop - keep telling me more!) Honestly, for me, there is no better compliment than making a lasting food impression on friends and family, and this was certainly accomplished tonight!

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