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The Dinner Party; a Rite of Passage

November 15, 2011

Well, I’ve attended a formal sit-down dinner party hosted by friends. It’s a first. To most I’m sure it seems silly to consider this a “rite of passage” of sorts, but honestly, knowing I’ve reached an age where we can just put together a three-course meal complete with vino has to count for something. Are you with me?

The food was divine. My friend Ben is a fantastic cook, and served as Head Chef for the night, putting together a menu of homemade pies, (chicken & lobster) sautéed broccoli rabe, onion bread, savory rice & even homemade donuts.

We all agreed: the Lobster Pie stole the show. All at once comforting & elegant, the lobster itself was just tender enough, & not at all chewy. The homemade pie crust was just dense enough, just flaky enough, and all around begged the loot of us for seconds. (Please note: Ben schlepped himself to a seafood market to get live lobsters for the pie!) He’s a serious cook. Not sure I’m quite ready to kill a couple of double-clawed sea creatures just yet, but kudos to Ben for making dinner all the better!

He kindly shared his recipe, which I’ve posted down below.

A friend brought her fantabulous edamame-beet-goat cheese salad, & I toted spinach & artichoke dip, hot out of the oven.


The last course: It went out with  a bang – homemade cinnamon sugar donuts! We gave ourselves a few minutes to rest after the main course, then watched as Ben plop pieces of fried dough into a vat of hot oil. My inner foodie was giddy! How I love homemade donuts…He shared this recipe too, stay posted for it!

All in all, it was a great night of food & fun, complete with late-night laughter & plans for future themed dinner parties (murder mystery, anyone?).


Ben’s Lobster Pot Pie, adaptated from The Barefoot Contessa

{All You Need}

1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 large onion)

1/2 cup chopped fennel (1 fennel bulb)

1/4 pound unsalted butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups fish stock

1 tablespoon Brandy

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup half and half

3/4 pound cooked fresh lobster meat (about 3 medium lobsters)

1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley


3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

8 tablespoons vegetable shortening

8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced

1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water

1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water or heavy cream, for egg wash


Saute the onions and fennel with the butter in a large saute pan on medium heat until the onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the flour and cook on low heat for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Slowly add the stock, Port, salt, and pepper and simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the half and half.

Cut the lobster meat into medium-sized cubes. Place the lobster and parsley in a bowl. Pour the sauce over the mixture and check the seasonings. Set aside.


Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the lard and butter and pulse 10 times, until the fat is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out on a floured surface and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Divide the dough in half and roll out each half to fit a 9 or 9 1/2-inch round by 2-inch high ovenproof glass or ceramic baking dish. Place 1 crust in the dish, fill with the lobster mixture, and top with the second crust. Crimp the crusts together and brush with the egg wash. Make 4 or 5 slashes in the top crust and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.

Thanks for Stopping By!


4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 15, 2011 2:52 pm

    Your rite of passage meal sounds delicious and must have been enjoyed by everyone.

  2. November 15, 2011 3:47 pm

    This is definitely a rite of passage and so much fun. I bet you’re hooked! One of life’s greatest pleasures is sitting around a dinner table with dear friends a glass of wine and all the time in the world. And what a spread! Lucky you! I always love when I get cooked for. Thanks for sharing!

    • November 15, 2011 4:18 pm

      Yes, it’s so nice to show up at a friend’s door for a great meal! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  3. November 15, 2011 5:17 pm

    I can’t wait until I have a place that’s entirely my own, so I can throw amazing dinner parties 😀

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