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October 03, 2015

A Barefoot Contessa Dinner Party | Last Night's Dinner...

I'm still on a high from last night's dinner party - the food was soooo good.  I can say that without seeming full of myself because I didn't cook everything, and I didn't write the recipes.  Even my friends said they were shocked when I asked if they thought it would be fun for everyone to contribute to the dinner - normally I like to make everything so I have complete control over the dinner.  But, it was really fun for everyone to get in on the fun of making their favorite recipe from Foolproof.

If you're new to the Foolproof party, you can read all about my Barefoot Contessa project, here.

After chatting with my friends about the menu, we made a couple of revisions to the original selections I had posted earlier this week based on their recommendations.  Katie's favorite from the book is the Orange-Braised Carrots and Parsnips, so we decided to add that to the menu.  And, we have a pregnant friend so instead of the Chocolate Cassis Cake I opted to make the Barefoot classic, Chocolate Ganache Cake (from Parties, my all-time favorite Barefoot Contessa book, as I was quoted in this article).  I had actually never made the recipe before and I knew it would right up Mike's alley. 

Everything was absolutely amazing - and the menu was a great combination.  I highly recommend it.

Read more details on the table setting, here.

Our Barefoot Contessa Foolproof Menu :

Sidecars (cocktail)
Parmesan Crisps
Caramelized Bacon
Slow-Roasted Beef Tenderloin (I can't get enough...)
Balsamic-Roased Brussels Sprouts
Orange-Braised Carrots and Parsnips
Chocolate Ganache Cake with Whipped Cream

We started the night with a platter of nibbles that packed a punch, but were light enough not to ruin our appetites, and... cocktails.

We are typically such a wine crowd that I was hesitant to serve a cocktail, but it was such a festive addition.  It really started the night off with a more celebratory feel.  I altered Ina's recipe for a classic Sidecar by adding some Blood Orange sparkling European soda.  I loved the bitterness the blood orange added, and it made it a little more special (without cognac, of course) for my pregnant friend. 

The Parmesan Crisps were the easiest thing I've ever made - ever.  You literally grate cheese, add seasoning and bake them for 8 minutes.  They are the perfect thing to serve with drinks - crispy, salty and light.

I feel like I don't even need to write anything about this - Caramelized Bacon says it all!

Katie's Orange-Braised Carrots and Parsnips.  These were out of this world!  They don't taste like typical glazed or roasted carrots - it is almost like they develop a flavor all their own.  I can't wait to make them myself.

Dinner is served - very Ina, serving it all on one platter.  The Slow-Roasted Beef Tenderloin was perfect.  For our 6 guests, I had the butcher cut a 3 pound section from the whole tenderloin.  This is my third time preparing the beef this way - Christmas, New Years Eve and now this party - each time it is perfect.  

Sorry for the blurry pic - my camera was on the wrong setting.  Ugh.

The complete plate - all of the vegetables were so nice with the beef.  It was a decadent dinner without being too heavy. 

Aren't all of the colors so lovely?  

For dessert, I made Ina's Chocolate Ganache Cake from her book, Parties.  In that book she called this a "foolproof" recipe that was a staple at her store, The Barefoot Contessa.  It was amazing.  It might be my new favorite go-to dessert.

 Such a fun night with friends!  Thanks, Ina for a fabulous menu!


  1. Congratulations to you! You can eat well, entertain, and not exhaust yourself.

  2. Looks absolutely marvelous (said in contessa voice)!

  3. Anonymous8:52 AM

    What a lovely evening. I would love to know more about how you do your planning for entertaining. I would love to entertain but find it a really intimidating. I would love to know how far in advance you begin planning, if you have any checklists or tips and tricks, how you set up your kitchen what you do for making it look so easy!!

  4. Hi Jenny,

    Everything looks so good! Those brussel sprouts sound really good. I'll have to try them that way (I know they are healthy but .. it's tough to make them taste good.)


  5. Jenny, your home looks so cozy...the table is gorgeous...and the food looks delicious! Looks like it was a perfect evening!

  6. Jenny,
    This really is such fun. I've already planned a dinner party selecting from some of your recommendations. I have all of Ina's books and this series has inspired me to use them more often than I do!
    Everything looks delicious.

  7. What a perfect, cozy, wintertime dinner party! Very eager to make that cake. Thank you for taking the time to share all of this!

  8. Ginger9:46 PM

    Love the BC and have all of her books! Following along with the Foolproof recipes and became addicted to the salted caramel brownies! Oh my gosh! I thought I had everything for the recipe but didn't and as my cravings escalated to emergency status - I reached for a box of Ghiradelli brownie mix...doctored it by adding almond extract, expresso powder, choc. chips and some pecans. I live in St. Louis and had Fran's Caramel Sauce in my pantry (found it at Schnuck's). Devine doesn't begin to describe them. I've made the recipe one week. Really glad that I stumbled onto your blog, Jenny! I entertain a lot and I'm always on the look out for fresh ideas! Keep up the great work!


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