Our world is made up of a bunch small moments. Each strung together to make up a life. And when those small moments are fulfilling and memorable, then that string makes up a beautiful life. Mine is a long string of glistening pearls. Moments upon moments that bring me joy and memories that squarely plant a smile on both my face and heart.
Last fall I added to that string when we hosted our friends from Miami who have a passion for photography. (Well, Marta has more than passion. It's her profession. Check out her work here .)
They wanted to enjoy the cool fall weather and snap shots of the changing of the seasons. Which, of course, is a big deal to them being from a one season city. It ended up being a spectacular weekend as the weather was cool but pleasant, the leaves were all starting to turn and gave way to a rainbow explosion. The bursts of colors were emblematic of our feelings of spending time together. Bright and cheerful with the crisp air breathing life into our souls.
On weekends like these, entertaining takes a more relaxed vibe. We keep the food simple so we can spend quality time together. Plus with all the other activities going on who wants to spend oodles of time in the kitchen. Simple entertaining doesn’t have to mean boring. It just means easy preparation, few ingredients with big flavors.
Day One - An evening at home with cocktails, snacks & poached salmon
Since I was working in the city, the first night’s meal was prepared by my hubby who made an easy poached salmon with vegetables. While we waited for the meal to be ready we downed the 'way to easy to drink' Citrus Martinis while snacking on some cheese, olives, marinated garlic cloves and the famous crowd pleasing nut, Marcona almonds (all of which I brought home with me from Despaña.)
I also roasted up some tomatoes ahead of time. These are the easiest 'must have' staple in your fridge. Since they are made with enough oil to keep them cured for awhile, they are a savior to pull out in a pinch. Which is what I did, and then served it on crusty bread. Our friend, Illy's, reaction to the simplicity but deliciousness of this bite... Priceless.
After the snacks and the drinks came the easy 'meal in bowl' dish; Poached Salmon
1.5 lb Salmon
1/2 yellow onion, cut in quarters
2-3 carrots, cut in 1" pieces
2-3 ribs of celery, cut in 1" pieces
4-5 new potatoes, cut into small chunks
Oil, salt, pepper
Sauté for 2-3 minutes only all the vegetables in a large, deep pan using oil and seasoning with salt and pepper. Then place the seasoned salmon on top of all the vegetables and fill the pan with water to cover the fish. Place a cover on the pan and cook over a low heat to a simmer until the fish has turned a pale pink. Should take about 12-18 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. You can leave the vegetables whole or blend them up to create a puree.
Day Two - Fahnestock State Park followed by cauliflower soup, snap peas, salad, scallops
The following day we drove up to Clarence Fahnestock State Park wandering around, climbing up rocks and snapping off photographs as if film were free. Oh, that's right, we had digital cameras. Snap a 1000 and deal with it later!
Quite honestly, as eye catching as some of the photos are, they never seem to capture the true beauty of nature in its most vibrant state.
After being out in the chill of the day, we needed a little warmth. What better answers that call than soup. That night's no fuss easy line up:
Day Three - Stone Barns followed by pizza, shrimp & salad
We drove Marta and Illy to one of our favorite local treasures; Stone Barns at Rockefeller State Perserve I think you can tell by those smiles that we had a good time. We hiked around for a leisurely 5 mile trek capturing even more photos of fall’s abundance. Crayola crayons, eat your heart out.
Upon returning for our final evening together, we felt like keeping it cozy with comfort food. I made an array of pizzas as appetizers followed by a quick sauté of shrimp and a salad. Since we had been out on photography adventures all weekend, there was no time to make homemade dough. Store bought version does the trick and works like a charm.
I add oil to a bowl, plop the dough inside, cover with a towel and don't let the dough rise too much. Then I stretch it out with my hands into whatever shape it feels like making and add various toppings. Here's a few we served that night.
After that yummy goodness, some greens and a protein were all that was needed.
- Sautéed jumbo shrimp (with garlic, scallions)
- Boston salad with celery, fennel, scallion
There was nothing extraordinary about any of these dishes other than good ingredients made with absolute love. There was, however, moments of extraordinary all weekend long. Hosting weekend guests doesn't have to turn your life upside down. And even if it does, you will always land right side up.
Take a colorful stroll, breathe in the crisp Fall season, spend time with people you love, then return home to a warm meal. Fill your life with special moments and string together your own pearl necklace.