I have friends over for dinner all the time, but Friday night was the first time since April that I've entertained guests for a more intentional dinner party.
I worked on the music playlist for a week. I came up with a menu that I felt was ambitious while not overly complicated: cannelloni, prosciutto wrapped asparagus, garlic bread and white chocolate mint mousse. Truthfully, I'd only made the garlic bread before; everything else was brand new and that included making my own pasta.
Hopes were high. So naturally, I flipped out a little when things proved more complex.
White chocolate is a fickle mistress. It refused to melt, at least not like its dark counterparts. I ended up over-whipping the mousse to try to get the chocolate to blend. Then the homemade pasta became an epic fail, sticking mercilessly to everything in site (not even flour helped).
I could have cried and I almost did. I don't know what it is about cooking that can get me so emotional. It's like these dishes are a reflection of me. So if they fail, I fail.
Cooking is a lot about rules and proven techniques and knowing how certain foods react under specific situations. Perfection is prized. However, it helps to remember that there is an element to it all that is always out of your control, and the best you can do is roll with it. One recipe doesn't work; turn it into something else. Over-whipped the mousse? Scoop the chunky mess into a wine glass, stick some mint leaves in it and serve it anyway.
I scrapped the cannelloni idea, ran to the store, and made lasagna instead, using the same filling and sauce. It ended up being a unique take on the classic with the salami/prosciutto cheesiness between the layers.
Might I say, in the middle our evening I looked at the kitchen window and caught a reflection of our dinner party. Three girls laughing, eating, sharing stories about traveling abroad. I had to stop and take in the moment.
'Cause it's not about perfect food. It's about the good times and friends it brings together.