In an extended family, there is no calendar month without a birthday. In our family we celebrate two in the beginning of October. The nature is changing since the end of September in this area of the world. Cooler mornings, some yellow and red leaves and the first pumpkins appear in the markets. As a matter of fact, the markets are changing color all the way. The tomatoes, the corn and the eggplants of September, are giving their place in the baskets to apples, pumpkins and pears. The October celebrations embrace once more the new crop and a more “comfort” type food is in the mind of the cook.
I go to a local nursery and I get a few seasonal plants and some small pumpkins to give a fall personality to my tables. A centerpiece for my round table costs only 4 dollars and it will stay there long after the dinner party.
I set the tables the day before. One is tavola bianca with my grand mother’s Despina’s linen tablecloth. The other is “naked” with only place mats in brow to depict the seasonal colors. I select different color combinations for the two dinning tables. I fold the napkins in the shape of a flowerpot in the round table and I stick a silk mum in. On the other table I tie a grown ribbon around the napkin.
You have seen the little amuse bouche glasses on top of the table settings. I made a cucumber and avocado amuse bouche for my guests. Two cucumbers without their seeds. one avocado, half cup of arugula leaves and half cup of feta cheese crumbled became a smooth pâté in the food processor. I filled the small glasses and topped the pâté with one slice of cucumber and a tiny dollop of Greek olive paste.
I made a variation of the classic Ceasars salad. I used half romain lettuce hearts which I dipped in a dressing first. I topped the letuce with two anchovie fillets. I added three to four croutons on the side and a slice of a savory cake that I made with cheeses. I always make my own salad dressing. One bottle of cold pressed Greek olive oil, a bottle of red wine vinegar, a tube of anchovy paste, a good Dijon mustard can make too many Ceasar salad dressings.
The main course
I prepared pork tenderloins with sage leaves all wrapped in prosciutto. I was debating on the side dish having in mind mashed potatoes with truffle oil or polenta. Finally when I got to the market, the colorful small potatoes seemed as the best choice. I baked them with olive oil and sage with their skins. They turned out absolutely delicious.
For the roast I made a sauce using the drippings from browning the tenderloins with shallots, Oloroso cherry and chestnuts.
Following the main course I offered my guests a cheese platter and seasonal fruit. I like to select three different types of cheese. A blue veined of a creamy nature, a creamy mild cheese like brie and a sharp tasting cheese. Yesterday I picked a smoked scamorza and a Saint Agur. I am thrilled with the variety of imported cheeses I can find in some of the Washington Metropolitan Area markets.
The beautiful grapes and the ripe California fresh figs were accompanying the cheeses.
At the end of the meal we sang Happy Birthday and really enjoyed three small cakes. I did not make the cakes as one Saturday morning is not enough to prepare the meal. Thank Havens for the areas Cake Makers. This one was from Balducci’s and it was a pear cake. My absolute favorite of the evening.
It was a beautiful evening among family and friends. Wishing to my beloved many happy returns!