Harvest Dinner Party

Don’t let this busy time of year prevent you from inviting friends for dinner.

By FamilyTime


The markets and gardens are overflowing with fall vegetables and fruits, days are getting cooler, nights longer, and our lives are falling into their normal routines.

Don’t be a slave to the routine: have some fun. Invite your friends over for an autumn harvest dinner party!

Shopping and Cooking
Spending a crisp, cool Saturday or Sunday morning at the farmers market is an invigorating way to prepare for your party. Let your senses inhale the sights, aromas, and sounds of the market. Choose what looks freshest and most appealing.

When you arrive home, bags bulging with squash, apples, nuts, mushrooms, and greens, look forward to a relaxing afternoon cooking in the warm kitchen.

Let the house fill with the good smells of roast pork, acorn squash, and bread pudding as you happily anticipate the evening ahead.

Keep it Simple
This menu is rich, warm, and just a little bit fancy. But that does not mean you shouldn’t set the table simply.

Use russet, green, or gold table linens. Set the table with oversized white soup bowls and plates and generous water goblets, as well as wine glasses appropriate for chilled white wine.

Autumn centerpieces are as easy as they are charming. Fill a rustic bowl or small basket with colorful gourds or a tumble of small cabbages.

Put broad, shallow pots planted with hearty mums on the dining room sideboard and living room tables. Arrange dried flowers, grasses, or pods in tall glass or pottery vases.

Illuminate the room with fat, stubby candles. Light tall slender ones on the dining table.

Party Timetable
Much of this menu, which begins with a creamy acorn squash soup and ends with an indulgent bread pudding, can be prepared ahead of time.

Make the soup a day or two in advance and then reheat it. Roast the mushrooms and onions for the salad and wash the greens several hours before serving. Whisk the vinaigrette ahead of time, too – but remember to whisk it again just before using.

The pork should be roasted shortly before it’s served so that it is nice and hot, but you can brush it with the maple-mustard glaze and refrigerated hours before roasting.

The bread pudding requires some last minute attention. Cut up the bread and put the cubes and the nuts in the buttered baking dish. Stir together the custard. Before you serve dinner, bake the bread pudding and then let it cool on the counter during the meal.

While your guests linger at the table, whip the cream and heat the caramel topping and serve the bread pudding to finish the evening on a sweet note.