Text for tips and winter dinner recipes from Simi Hansen of Wanderlust Catering.
When I’m throwing a dinner party for my friends or family, I always choose to serve family-style. I think there’s something lush and indulgent about placing large beautiful platters of food in the middle of a table of your favorite people. Plating individual plates of food takes time, extra hands, and practice. If you’re not used to it, food can get cold before it’s ready to be served. Serving family-style eliminates that risk and gives you more time with your guests.
For really striking platters, I take my inspiration from seasonal produce (even during the winter!) and try to incorporate as many colors as possible. For every season, there are interesting heirloom vegetables at my farmers market. For a winter dinner party, I look for purple heirloom carrots, orange “cheddar” cauliflower, and black radishes. These unexpected pops of color really draw people into the food.
Take a look at two of Simi’s custom recipes from this beautiful winter dinner party, below!
Photos: Edyta Szyszlo
Styling: Alexandra Phelps
Flowers: Studio Mondine
Paper goods: Cheree Berry Paper
Pottery Barn pieces: dinnerware, serveware, chargers, wooden pedestals, barware and snack bowls.
BRAISED BEEF SHORT RIBS WITH A RED WINE DEMI
5 pounds boneless beef short ribs, cut in half
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 medium onions, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 750-ml bottle dry red wine (We use Coppola Claret. You really want a quality red wine here for best flavor.)
10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
8 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs oregano
2 sprigs rosemary
2 fresh bay leaves
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
4 cups low-salt beef stock
Preheat oven to 200*F convection or 225*F. Season short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Working in small batches, brown short ribs on all sides. Be patient. Let the surfaces get a nice crust on them. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 3 Tbsp. drippings from pot.
Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and cook over high heat, stirring often, until vegetables are browned. Add flour and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, 2-3 minutes. Stir in wine and bring to a boil. Once all of the alcohol is cooked off (about 10 minutes), add beef stock. Bring to a boil then take off heat and pour into an oven-proof pan. Add short ribs and any accumulated juices. Add all herbs along with the garlic. Cover with parchment, then cover with foil. Place in the oven
Cook until short ribs are tender, 4-5 hours. Transfer short ribs to a platter. Strain sauce through a chinois from pot into a bowl. Spoon fat from surface of sauce and discard; season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Pour sauce back over short ribs and let the ribs cool in the sauce.
Short ribs can be prepared up to two days before your event. Gently reheat them in a 300*F oven or on the stovetop over a low flame.
BEET AND GOAT CHEESE MOUSSE CROSTINIA
makes 24-32 crostini
3 beets (about 3/4 pound total)
4 thyme sprigs
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 rosemary sprig
1 lb chevre
up to 1/2 tsp heavy cream (optional)
1 baguette, cut on the bias into 1/4″ thick slices
1 cup microherbs
Preheat oven to 400*F. Scrub beets and trim tops and tails. Put in an oven-safe dish with 1/2 cup of water, a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and thyme sprigs. Cover with parchment, then foil. Roast for 2 hours or until tender.
When the beets are cool enough to handle, rub them with your hands. The skins should easily peel away. Cut the beets into 1/4″ dice.
Simmer beets, sherry vinegar, sugar, and rosemary until nearly all of the liquid has evaporated. Let cool.
Note: We like to use different colors of beets: golden, chioggia, and red for visual interest. If you’d like to do the same, each color needs to be prepared and stored separately. Mix them gently right before service.
For the goat cheese mousse, whip goat cheese in a stand mixer until it becomes smooth. Add a few drops of heavy cream to lighten the mousse if needed. Place in a piping bag fitted with a star tip.
To make crostini, drizzle baguette slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toast in the oven for 3-4 minutes per side or until crisp but not brown.
All of this can be made up to two days prior to your event. To assemble, pipe a few swirls of goat cheese on one end of the crostini. Top with beets and garnish with a pinch of microherbs. Crostini should stay crisp for up to an hour.