A legendary party

1211 legendary party introWhat do you put on the birthday menu for the guy that’s been kickin it strong for 70 years? Whatever the heck he wants.

My father in law loves filet mignon. He loves shrimp cocktail. He loves all things Italian. And he loves great wine. Pretty good taste, right?

So for his 70th birthday party we did a soiree at his place with all his favorites. And despite a late afternoon presentation to senior executives, a mad dash to the market to pick up the heirloom carrots special ordered for me, and an hour drive to get to their place, it truly couldn’t have been easier. This would work great for an easy holiday gathering as well, either as a sit down menu or a buffet. 

I started prepping 2 days in advance, mapped out my day-of plan, so when we arrived it was just plug and play. We had antipasto on the table within 15 minutes, our main course less than 2 hours later. The make-ahead plan is below the menu.



party appetizersAssortment of cured meats & cheeses
–Prosciutto, Sopresseta, Capicola
–Aged Provolone, fresh mozzarella balls

Roasted vegetables & olives
–Roasted red peppers, roasted marinated artichokes

Cherry Tomato Jam (olive oil, a lot of garlic, a quart of cherry tomatoes, cook slowly until it’s a thick jam)


~Mille Prosecco

Primo Piatto

shrimp pasta first courseCappelini con Salsa di Gamberi e Aglio
(Angel hair with Shrimp and Garlic sauce)

~Fantinel Pinot Grigio

Secondo e Contorno

roast tenderloinRosemary infused beef tenderloin (recipe below)

Porcini red wine sauce (I used dried mushrooms instead, reconstituted in hot water, poured the steeping liquid in with beef broth)

Balsamic roasted baby heirloom carrots

Pomegranete pear salad (I subbed gorganzola for goat cheese, and pecans for walnuts)

~2011 Brigaldara Valpolicella


key lime cheesecake dessertKey Lime Cheesecake

~Aberlour Scotch

Prep Plan

1211 legendary party prep2 days in advance

prep beef, wrap tightly in plastic
make tomato jam
slice crostini, pack in airtight container1 day in advance

1 day in advance

make mushroom sauce
make salad dressing
make cheesecake
prep veg

Day of

marshal resources (anyone to assign some of the tasks)
assemble antipasto
toast crostini
roast beef
make pasta
roast veg
assemble salad
reheat sauce
make whipped cream

Rosemary Infused Beef Tenderloin

rosemary infused tenderloin1 trimmed 5-lb beef tenderloin
5 fresh rosemary stalks, plus 1/4 cup chopped rosemary leaves
5-10 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil

IMG_46651 or 2 days in advance: Tie tenderloin so it’s a uniform size for even cooking. Using a small knife or a chopstick, pierce the tenderloin lengthwise 5 times and insert rosemary stalks. Make sure one of the ends of each stalk is sticking out so you can remove it after cooking.

Mix together chopped rosemary leaves, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Smear it all over the tenderloin. Then wrap it tightly in plastic and keep in fridge until it’s time to cook.

2 1/2 hours before dinner: remove from fridge and set on counter for an hour. Heat oven to 400. Roast in a shallow roasting pan for approximately an hour, or until thermometer reads 120 for rare to med-rare.

Remove from pan and let rest for 20 minutes tented with foil. Just before slicing, remove strings and pull out rosemary stalks. Slice pices 1-2 inches thick depending on number of people you’re serving.

rosemary infused tenderloin with copy


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