Dinner Series 30: The Menu

Here we are - finally at the last of the recap posts from our recent Dinner Series 30. This dinner's menu was a good one, simple but tasty, and with a really cohesive theme. I decided that with the coming of spring, it might be fun to do a citrus theme -- incorporate some bright, zesty flavors even though there was still a definitive chill in the air. The menu tended towards a lot of lemon, but we managed to squeeze some grapefruit, blood orange, and cara cara orange in there as well!

Dinner Series 30 appetizers

To start, I made two different appetizers, a Roasted Lemon White Bean Hummus, and a spin on this Smitten Kitchen recipe for Roasted Tomatoes and Cipollini Onions (from her cookbook, which you can find at Local Root!) I made the hummus by the book - step by step as outlined in the recipe, but deviated from the roasted tomato and onion recipe a bit. Deb of Smitten Kitchen has you serving the roasted tomatoes and onion over a bed of bread and white beans, but I made ours into small crostini. To do so, I layered slices of baguette with lemon-scented ricotta cheese, then a generous scoop of roasted veggies, and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt and basil to finish. They were completely delicious, with the most wonderful, heartwarming blend of flavors. Perhaps my favorite bite of the whole evening!

Dinner Series 30: Roasted Lemon White Bean Hummus

Dinner Series 30: Roasted Tomato Crostini

The dinner itself consisted of three courses - a salad, the main course, and a delicious dessert. The salad was fairly simple, but the flavors went so nicely together. I found this Blood Orange, Roasted Beet and Fennel Salad on Epicurious, and was really happy with it. I had initially wanted to make a similar recipe by Smitten Kitchen, but in the interest of trying to mix things up, I tried something different. It was light, super fresh, and super flavorful.

Dinner Series 30: Beet and Blood Orange Salad

For the main course, I chose this Spring Vegetable Risotto recipe from another one of our cookbooks, The America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook. It had a lot of spring flavors going on, and again incorporated citrus, so it seemed like a win-win. The recipe has many ingredients and steps, but comes together pretty easily, and was lovely served with fresh bay scallops. The flavors melded beautifully, and the dish was filling without being heavy. A wonderful course to follow the lighter salad!


Dessert was last, but certainly not least. Aside from the incredible crostini, this cake was the best. The cake itself has this wonderful texture where it's moist and dense, but with just enough crumb. It has an overarching butter flavor, which plays nicely with the grapefruit zest baked into the cake, and isn't too heavy on the sweet. The broiled grapefruit on top, which should be star of the show, came across as overly bitter to me. I wasn't wild about that part, though it did make for a positively stunning cake. If I had it to do again, I might make the cake on it's own, and use a flavorful citrus syrup or glaze to finish it off.

I got this recipe for Glazed Grapefruit Cake from the March 2014 issue of Saveur, which had a wonderful feature on in-season grapefruit.

Dinner Series 30: Grapefruit Cake

This was another great dinner, and such a fun experience to bring in new guests to share in the fun of it all. I'm already looking forward to the next!