Butter-Themed Dinner Party, Y’all

I’d been looking forward to it for weeks—no, months.

The butter-themed dinner party.

Inspired by previous loosely-themed dinner parties with a couple of friends, Eric and I headed over to the Windsor Park neighborhood one warm Thursday evening to enjoy a menu of which Paula Deen would most certainly approve.

Our gracious host started the evening off with a round of fancy jalapeño cocktails. While I didn’t take note of his top secret recipe, it was something like this, with rum and sugar. Refreshing, with just a little kick. Okay, okay – so the cocktail didn’t include butter. Stick with me here.

While we settled in for what turned out to be a marathon night of many small, artful courses more worthy of Andalucian lingering than Austin mouth-shoveling, our hostess brought out an appetizer I’m still salivating over: homemade radish butter with pumpernickel. It was rich, fresh, a little salty, and absolutely addictive.

Then we moved on to Eric’s homegrown salad, with freshly-picked mixed leaves, mint, oregano, basil, homemade croutons, cherry tomatoes, and (from Wheatsville) grated parmesan, Kalamata olives, and toasted pecans, all topped with a dash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

This was enjoyed with a cup of my reheated Squash Soup, which included a generous amount of butter.

The next course was the One That Changed Everything. My first serving of fresh, homemade pasta. Yes, I am serious. Luckily for me, the cook is bit of an expert on all things Italian, and Eric and I were happy to reap the benefits of the time he’s spent in both Italy and Sardinia, as well as, apparently, the kitchen. This pasta was amazing. Since it’s about 300 degrees in Texas right now, and the pasta was so fresh and delicate, we didn’t ruin it by drowning it in sauce or weighing it down with heavy meats or strong flavors. Our hosts have the enviable problem of a rather profusive sage bush that’s growing in their front yard, so they just browned some butter, fried the fresh sage in it, and poured that over the homemade fettuccine with a quick shaving of parmesan. Squisito.

I’ve got to make this.

Finally, the main course. Perfect pan-seared scallops with daikon radish, carrot, and leek purée. Just look at it.

For dessert, we had ice cream bars and Scotch on the deck. And, despite all this butter-based indulgence, we weren’t even stuffed; spreading the many small courses out over a whole evening made for a sustained appetite and some great conversation.

I think Lucky Cat was a little jealousl


Eric’s Watermelon Gin Fizz


As one often does at this time of the year, we had a large quantity of fresh watermelon and had tired of binging on its raw, watery flesh, refreshing as it may be.  So, characteristically, Eric devised a way to turn the this favorite summer fruit into a vehicle for alcohol.  It proved to be a fantastic poolside cocktail.

Behold, Eric’s Watermelon Gin Fizz:

2 parts fresh, de-seeded watermelon cubes
1 part gin
1 part club soda
~1/2 tsp powdered sugar (per serving)
ice to taste
lime slices to garnish (optional)

1. In a blender, purée watermelon until smooth.

2. Mix two parts watermelon with one part each gin and club soda, add sugar, and stir.

3. Serve over ice.

If you are using the lime slices, go ahead and squeeze a little lime juice into your glass, too.

Avocado Banana Smoothie

Ooh, look at this one!

This quick and easy smoothie recipe will start your day off luxuriously.  Smooth and mild, an avocado and banana smoothy is also pretty filling, and a great way to use up any extra avocados that didn’t quite make it into your guacamole.

You can thank me later.

1 cup apple juice (home juiced or bought)
1-2 bananas
1 avocado
1 heaping tsp ground flaxseeds
2 ice cubes

1. Pour juice, bananas, avocado meat, and flaxseeds into blender. Liquefy.

2. Add more juice if the mixture is too thick. Add ice cubes and blend on “ice crush” for a few seconds to achieve a lovely, shake-like, ice cold consistency.

3. Enjoy! It may look and sound a little weird, but, trust me, it’s delicious!

Clementine Smoothie

Another smoothie, y’all!

Anybody else ever find themselves with a whole bag of clementines, and not enough appetite to finish them off? I start making smoothies! The secret to this one is the cranberry juice, and it’s one of my favorites. Enjoy!

2 clementines, peeled and separated
handful fresh blueberries
2 fresh strawberries
1 Tbsp yogurt
splash milk
splash cranberry juice
drop vanilla extract
2 ice cubes

1. Put all ingredients except ice into a blender and liquefy.

2. Add ice cubes and mix on “crush ice” setting until desired consistency is achieved.


Texas Ruby Red Grapefruit Smoothie

This smoothie has frozen spinach in it for extra nutritional goodness and texture, but its color over-represents its taste. It’s fresh and tangy-sweet, just like the Ruby Red Grapefruit, the State Fruit of Texas! They’re in season in late winter and early spring; look for them at your local market in March, and give this smoothie a try!

flesh of 1 Texas Ruby Red Grapefruit, spooned out
1/4 cup frozen spinach
2-4 fresh strawberries
1 medium banana
1 Tbsp yogurt
plash orange juice