With images of a warm, summery weekend still in the back of my mind and the remains of a little sun burn on my shoulders, I’m trying to wrap my head around what is happening outside right now. It’s snowing. Big fat flakes that are piling up fast. It’s May 1st and we are expecting somewhere between 5 and 10 inches. Personally, I love it but I am worried about the light blue bird egg that recently appeared in one of my hanging baskets. I didn’t bring it inside because I want to make sure the birds continue to take care of the little egg. Here’s hoping both the egg and the plant survive...
Over the weekend, not only were we able to enjoy some pretty amazing weather, we also brought out some of our treasures from life in Japan that we have been saving for a dinner party. We had collected some fun stuff for hosting a Japanese dinner party and hadn’t had the chance to break them out until now. It was time. We have an antique kimono panel that we use as a table runner:
And little Dachshund-shaped chopstick holders that were handmade in Kyoto...
And we hung lights outside, even though it was a bit cool once it got dark to sit outside. Still, the glow added a nice, festive feel to the evening.
When it comes right down to it, the table was a bit eclectic between the dishes and decorations, but that is actually quite fitting for a Japanese-inspired table. Often times, dining out involves many small dishes piling up at the table. If you’re dining in a really small, traditional izakaya, those dishes often do not match. But there is an endearing quality to all the different patterns and shapes that litter the table top as you devour skewers of yakitori, plates of gyoza, and glasses of Kirin beer.
For our dinner party this weekend, I served my favorite Japanese-inspired dishes to 8 diners. We began the evening by making a toast with sparkling saké and nibbled on edamame crostini flavored with lemon and mint...
Next, we enjoyed the lovely, mild flavor of scallop and corn gyoza with spicy sriracha sauce. Match made in heaven.
Then moved on to perfectly grilled (by Brad) chicken yakitori with a fresh, flavorful yet light Asian slaw...
Roasted salmon with miso butter and peas (apologies for the iPhone photo- I posted this on Instagram)...
And finally, a dessert with some umami, miso ice cream served on top of brownies. My original idea was to make mini ice cream pies, but after making the first 4 pies, my crust crumbled like sand when I tried removing it from the mini molds. So, I made an emergency batch of brownies and topped it with a scoop of brown sugar miso ice cream. If you haven’t tried this recipe that I posted on Tokyo Terrace a while back, you really must. It is the most lovely ice cream- different enough to mix up your usual ice cream routine without being totally weird. Sweet, white miso is my favorite, but you could experience with other shades of miso as well.
We enjoyed the 4 successful mini ice cream pies last night with Brad's parents. They were wonderful and will definitely become a frequent rotation in my entertaining repertoire.
I won’t post the recipe I originally used for the chocolate cookie crust, since it obviously did not work very well for me. But here is another one from Food & Wine that I have had a lot of success with in the past. I’d stick with that.
The crisp chocolate crust with the creamy ice cream and rich whipped cream make a decadent, elegant dessert with layers of subtle flavor that guests will love. I especially love that you can make this in advance. Just assemble the pies, place on a cookie sheet and wrap well with plastic wrap before putting them in the freezer. They will last about 3 or 4 days this way. And if you aren’t interested in making your own ice cream, find your favorite store-bought flavor and use that in place of the miso ice cream in this recipe. Strawberry, salted-caramel, mint chocolate chip...they would all work beautifully!
What are you favorite dinner party recipes? I'd love to hear what you all make for company!
Mini Miso Ice Cream Pies
Makes 4 individual pies using 4-inch molds, a or one 8-inch or 9-inch pie or tart
1 quart brown sugar miso ice cream (click here for recipe), chilled in the freezer and then softened so it can be easily spooned into the crust
1 recipe chocolate cookie crust (click here for recipe)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Begin my making the crust. Once it has chilled, spoon the ice cream evenly into the 4 mini crusts, or your one larger crust. Place the pies on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer for about 3 hours. If you are going to wait a few days to serve them, wrap them in plastic wrap after the 3 hours and leave them in the freezer until you are ready to serve them.
Before serving, place the whipping cream in a medium bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on medium high speed until the cream begins to thicken. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to mix until soft peaks form. Spread a spoon full or two on each pie. Serve immediately.