When it comes to entertaining, or more specifically- hosting, an event can quickly go from  satisfying to stressful. Luckily, there are a ton of options that don’t require a lot of preparation. We brought in the expert- Sarah McIntosh of Épicerie. Located in Austin, Épicerie thrives on simple, delicious food presented in a new and exciting way. Needless to say, Épicerie is a must-visit while in Austin. For those of us (unfortunately) stuck at home, Sarah applies the same principles to entertaining. Today, she’s sharing her essentials for an at-home fall dinner party. From plating requirements to beverage suggestions, recipes or even a perfect playlist- you’ll have an event that your friends won’t soon forget. Enjoy:

Fall Dinner Party with Épicerie
Chef/Owner Sarah McIntosh 

A great dinner party starts with small plates that can be shared with guests. With cheese plates, you always want to stick to 3-5 pairings. Your palette can get overwhelmed with too many flavors if you go beyond that. For a fall dinner party, choose heartier cheeses and wine. Washed rind, blue and extra-aged firm cheeses tend to have the most flavor and will stand up to bolder red and white wines. They also pair well with dark beers.

The dessert tray of macarons, lemon bars, shortbread and brownies complement the meal and cheese plates, rather than rival them. They’re all light desserts that each guest can sample at their leisure.

Marigolds are a perfect touch that adds to the autumnal vibe, and have a wonderfully fall vibrant hue.

MENU:
Chicken Liver Mousse with apple mostarda and hazelnut brittle.
Fried Gouda with whipped honey, cherries and marcona almonds
Fromage de tete (head cheese made in house, but you can buy it at your local grocery) with pickled quail eggs and an arugula salad.
Cheese plate
SWEETIES: Lemon bars, shortbread, salted chocolate chip cookies, macarons
Baguettes
Red and white wine.

CHICKEN LIVER MOUSSE:
Makes 24 – 2 oz. portions

1 lb chicken livers
1 whole egg
2 egg whites
3¼ mL cream
1 T salt
1½ T of sauternes cooking wine

Purée all ingredients, except for cream, in a blender. Add cream and pulse until combined. Strain purée through a fine sieve. Spoon into desired baking container (we use 2 oz. cups).

Place into a water bath and cover with aluminum foil. Cook at 325°F until done. (It will take 8-12 minutes for the 2 oz. cups.) Larger dishes will take longer. It should jiggle when cooked through, but still be somewhat loose. Serve with grilled bread. Sarah also likes to serve with an apple mostarda and hazelnut brittle.

LEMON BARS:
Makes 12 bars

Crust
¼ c powdered sugar
1 c flour
¾ c softened butter
2 ½ t salt

Sift powdered sugar and flour into mixer. Add butter and mix until dough forms.

Press dough into bottom of rectangular pan and line with foil or parchment paper. Fill with pie weights. Bake at 350°F for 25-35 minutes.

Filling
1/3 c flour
2 c sugar
1¼ c lemon juice
6 whole eggs
2 egg yolks

Whisk eggs, yolks and salt in small bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl, sift flour and add sugar and juice. Pour in egg mixture and mix well

Pour mix into baked crust and reduce heat to 300°F. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Cool at room temperature and refrigerate before serving.

FALL DINNER PARTY PLAYLIST:
B.B. King – Let the Good Times Roll
Curtis Mayfield – Move On Up
Bobby “Blue” Bland – Yolanda
Buddy Guy – Pretty Baby
Eric Clapton & the Yardbirds – Take it Easy Baby
Bobby “Blue” Bland – Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City
B.B. King – The Thrill Is Gone
Curtis Mayfield – Pusherman
Muddy Waters, Johnny Winters & Cotton James – Caledonia
Etta James – Something’s Got A Hold On Me
Al Green – Love and Happiness
Howlin Wolf – Spoonful
Otis Redding – That’s How Strong My Love Is

To learn more about Sarah & Épicerie, click here