A Night Out, In.

When it comes to food, one of my phliosophies is that everyone is deserving of restaurant quality food, even at home. Recently Dustin and I decided to share this philiosophy with a few close friends and I’d love to show you, course by course, just how we made it happen!

Since there is no better place to start than the beginning, let’s get to work on an Amuse Bouche!

An amuse bouche is usually served at the beginning of dinner and should be a one bite and balanced teaser. It is virtually a preview of the menu to come. A few weeks prior to dinner, I had an orzo amuse prepared by Chef Greg Gable (most notably chef at Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia, PA for 14 years. more info on that meal, here). I made a few adjustments to suite the meal I had planned and off we went! I give you course number one, Amuse Bouche.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

4 Tbsp Cooked Orzo Pasta

1 Tbsp Goat Cheese

4 Small Basil Leaves

1 Round of Pancetta

2 Tbsp Fig Balsamic Gastrique (Recipe to follow)

Allow me to  tell you how I made my gastrique. It’s not nearly as difficult as the name implies!

A qastrique is the reduction of a sugar and an acid into a syrup. My dessert for this meal has figs in it, and I thought they would make a wonderful sauce for my amuse bouche.

Place about 2 cups of balsamic vinegar into a small sauce pot and add 2-3 Tbsp of sugar. (In my version, I used quava nectar as my granulated sugar substitution) Add 3 chopped dried figs and simmer until the mixture is reduced a little more than half and coats the back of a spoon. Allow the mixture to cool and strain into a squeeze botle. Set aside until you are ready to use!

Once the pasta and pancetta are cooked, this is really just about assembly. Toss the orzo with some Olive Oil and put about 1 Tbsp onto each “plate”. My serving pieces were Chinese soup spoons that have become very trendy and easy to come by.

Next, crumble the goat cheese and place a few pieces onto the orzo. Place the basil leaf and a small piece of the pancetta gingerly on the top and drizzle with the qastrique. Serve to your guests and toast yourselves to the meal that will follow!


I hope that more and more dinner parties start out with an amuse. It’s a great conversation starter and makes any meal feel more upscale. It may take a few extra steps, but as long as your amuse uses similar ingredients as the rest of your meal, it often means the course can be created on the fly, without the added expense for new ingredients.

Buon Appetito and stay tuned for the second course!


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Filed under Italian, Side Dish, Uncategorized

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