A Summer Friday Night with Friends (2)

Happy Tuesday, friends!

I’d like to introduce a new feature of Bourbon & Brown Sugar – I think I’ll call it MB’s Menus.

I’ve always loved the challenge of puzzling together menus… especially for entertaining.  You’ll often find me surrounded by cookbooks, computer open to my favorite blogs and culinary websites, seeking out a group of recipes that will work perfectly together to make a great meal to serve to my friends and family.   We’ve been hosting a couple dinners a week around here recently – I seem to spend a lot of time feeding a merry band of rotating guests.  What could be better?

Some of my very favorite cookbooks (Barefoot Contessa Parties, Nigella Lawson’s How to Eat, Date Night In by Ashley Rodriguez) feature menus, and I’ve always been drawn to magazine articles featuring entire menus.  (As far as I can tell, very few blogs pull together their recipes together into menus – readers, do you know of any? Do tell!)

Until then, let’s start here, shall we?

Over many years of entertaining, I’ve learned a few important lessons that you’ll see reflected in my menus. First, I like most of the meal to be ready before guests arrive, so I can dive into my cocktail and enjoy their company.  If I’m off in the kitchen fiddling with some last-minute element, I’m always convinced I’ll miss the very best part of the conversation. (and in fact, I usually do.)

I’ve learned the hard way to keep things simple.  While I will likely fuss over a few recipes, many of my recipes are dead easy.  What could be better than a tray of sliced tomatoes in the summer drizzled with a bit of balsamic vinegar and perhaps a bit of burrata or mozzarella?  Or a salad of arugula with a bit of parmesan, drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil?  Sometimes it’s best to sit back and let simple ingredients shine through.  Or pair some home-made items with others purchased from local shops.  No need to spend the entire day in the kitchen to share an evening with friends.

Finally, I’ve realized that, while I might care deeply about the food I’m serving friends (I can’t help myself), they have come around for a visit and conversation – not to judge my food.  If a roast turns to shoe leather (as it did one night years ago at House Morell), it’s best to just call the local barbecue joint for culinary reinforcements and have a good laugh about it than ruin the evening.

Keeping that in mind, MB’s Menus will feature easy, mostly make-ahead items that are a combination of my own recipes, and those found (and tested) from other blogs and cooking websites.

Let’s get the party started, shall we?

We  enjoyed this menu with friends just last Friday night.   Our friends brought the Palomas (it’s awesome when friends show up with a cooler full of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and tequila), then we grilled hangar steaks and drizzled them with my brother’s awesome Chimichurri Sauce (the most popular recipe from Bourbon & Brown Sugar ever, by the way).   I sliced tomatoes from the local farmers market, topped them with fresh burrata  and drizzled them with a bit of balsamic glaze and olive oil… yum.  Finally, I tossed some fresh linguine with a touch of my mint-basil pesto.  We finished the meal with chocolate kissed strawberry shortcakes.

I hope they inspire gatherings in your own home… Enjoy!




Paloma – Image from Bon Appetit

Grilled Hangar Steak with Tio's Chimichurri

Image from the Tasting Table

  • Tomatoes with Fresh Burrata and Balsamic Glaze

tomatoes and mozzarella

  • Pasta with Basil and Mint Pesto

mint basil pesto 4

chocolate-kissed strawberry shortcakes4


7 Responses to "MB’s Menus: A Casual Summer Dinner"
  1. Nancy Powell says:

    Love this idea of putting together a whole menu that works! Thank you!

  2. Fiona says:

    Love the new suggested menu idea almost as much as I like the look of the food. Thank you Mb.
    Will very much look forward to the next menu.

  3. Hilda says:

    I like the idea of the menu. This one is particularly appealing. Well done!

  4. Love the idea of the dinner menu! This is great MB!! I also love all of those cookbooks…some of my favorites. I have not, however, read Date Night In…but I hear such great things about it…I will have to check it out. I hope you are doing great!! xo

  5. Michelle says:

    Great idea. And you’ve started off perfectly!

  6. Shannon says:

    MB – I love this idea! And I love your first menu selection! The only thing that would be more perfect is If you would only arrive at my house every evening to prepare dinner,

  7. What an awesome idea MB!! I love all your selections on the menu. I love putting together the menu for a party almost as much as the actual dinner party! Looking forward to your next one!

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