We had a nice dinner party with some wonderful people, and a four course meal… salad, starter course, main course, and dessert. Why would anyone take on a four course dinner? Well, we usually go to a special beer tasting event once a year where they do a six course meal. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to go this year. So, I wanted to fashion my dinner after the beer tasting dinner. Here’s my menu with a couple of recipes…
Salad: spinach salad with candied pecans, blue cheese crumbles, red pepper, boiled eggs, and sweet and soy dressing. Beer tasting: Bayhawk IPA.
Starter course: (oops, no picture) seared scallops with orzo in rosemary broth (see recipe below)* (This rosemary broth is kind of my go-to meal when I don’t know what else to have for dinner. I’ll add ravioli, small pasta like orzo or ditalini, or fresh or frozen veggies. Yummy, satisfying, and pretty easy.)
main dish: slow-braised pork sirloin with black grapes, shallots, and balsamic served with baked barley, wild mushrooms, and caramelized onions (see recipe below)**. Wine paring: Dancing Bull Zinfandel.
Dessert: pound cake topped with sour cherry lambic sorbet and green apple Sauvignon blanc sorbet served with strawberries and peaches. Beer paring: cherry lambic.
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- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 2 cups homemade or low-sodium broth (I always use vegetarian broth, chicken broth could be used as well)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (less if the broth is salty)
- 1/2 cup orzo
- Combine first 5 ingredients (rosemary through salt) in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add orzo. Cook orzo for 9 minutes or until al dente (or, if using another type of pasta, check package directions for how long to cook pasta). Do not drain once pasta is ready; it will be like a soup. Serve immediately once cooked.
- I like fresh cooked carrots, frozen peas, cheese ravioli, shallots, and fresh green beans in this soup. It's very versatile, so add your favorites, or add whatever you have leftover in the 'fridge.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
- 4 ½ cups sweet yellow onions, chopped (about 3 medium)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 3 cups shiitake mushroom caps, sliced
- 1 ½ cups uncooked pearl barley
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- Fresh thyme sprigs, for garnishing (optional)
- Melt oil or butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and sugar; cover and cook 25-35 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Add mushrooms; cook 10-20 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently. Add barley; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in soy sauce, salt, pepper, and thyme.
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Pour broth over barley mixture; cover and bake at 350° for 1 hour or until barley is tender, stirring once during baking. Let stand 10 minutes. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.
- Makes 6 servings (serving size: 1 2/3 cup)