THE DISH ON DAZZLING DINNERS

Staging Fun-Filled, Impressive, Themed Dinners From Invitations to Favors

With Guidelines for Recipes and Suggestions for Simplification 

 

Whether you wish to mark a special occasion or please cherished guests, or when you need to impress or just for personal pleasure, THE DISH ON DAZZLING DINNERS is your guide.

 

There are 24 dinner plans that dazzle, two for each month, each with an intriguing theme carried throughout all elements of the dinner. Specific instructions cover the major features of a dinner party: clever invitations, informative Host’s Introduction, beguiling ways to greet guests, a visually striking souvenir menu, room and table décor, mood music, and charming take-home favors. Instead of recipes, THE DISH makes theme related suggestions for each dish so that you can use the Internet or your own expertise to tailor the tastes to your liking. In short, here is your guide to superlative dinner entertainment.

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APPETIZER

Pumpernickel Crostini with Goat

Cheese and Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

"Ice Cream Dinner"

ENTREE

It's About Pigs and Big Bucks

a Culinary Charade

"Back to School Dinner"

DESSERT

Sunflower Tart

"Flower Power Dinner"

April

GO GREEN!

Inspiration:  Earth Day

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Show ecological awareness by serving a vegan dinner with accessories and décor that honor the sustainability of natural resources.

HOST’S INTRODUCTION

Go green this Earth Day. Join the worldwide expression of support for environmental protection. Green stands for ecological excellence and it symbolizes vegetation – as far as we know, ours is the only planet with it. On Earth Day, then, the custom is vegan (plant-based) food. A vegan diet results in fewer greenhouse emissions, less pollution and less expenditure of natural resources than a diet with meat or animal-based foods.

 

Do your part to serve the day’s purpose - to increase ecological awareness - by serving a vegan dinner with accessories and décor that emphasize respect for the sustainability of natural resources. Start with a cocktail that’s a surprise with a surprising quality. Use green coconut water and point out that it is so close to human plasma that it can be injected directly into the bloodstream and, in fact, was used as a plasma substitute in World War II. For the visual surprise, present the cocktail in a green coconut shell. In major part, use green foods and emphasize the green-earth theme by including round, green elements in every dish. Some people might view a vegan dinner as a sacrifice. The rich tastes of the suggested dishes will challenge that view. Emphasize the point by ending dinner with an ultimate indulgence, two luscious chocolate desserts. Your guests will leave with this shoutout:

GO VEGAN!

Appropriate for: Earth Day is celebrated on April 22, but a vegan dinner anytime in April will be an appropriate way to honor the day and the idea. Of course, a vegan dinner as dazzling as this one will be a gastronomic and ecological hit any time of year.

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MENU

 

EARTH DAY
Go Green!

 

COCKTAIL
Green Coconut Surprise

 

APPETIZERS
Hummus in Bell Pepper Bottoms
Avocado Salad
Spiced Green Olives

 

SOUP
Squash, Carrot, and Apple Soup Garnished with Parsley Ball

 

ENTREE
Puff Pastry Roulades with Vegetable Stuffing on Tomato Coulis 
Bamboo Rice
Roasted Brussels Sprouts

 

SALAD
“Flowers” in a “Vase”

 

DESSERTS
White Chocolate Bark
Fruit with Chocolate Fondue Dip

                                                                 DETAILS OF DAZZLE
Invitations. You must use the Internet to be eco-friendly. Use one or more images that illustrate Earth Day.
Text for invitation. We are celebrating Earth Day with a gastronomically gratifying dinner of vegan food. Join us, please. To increase ecological awareness, please bring a suggestion for turning trash into treasure or a resolution to be more eco-friendly.

Entrance décor. Purchase a large piece of green card stock and cut it into a circle. Attach packets of seeds to it. Inside your entrance, place small pots of seedlings on a table or up stairs if you have a staircase there. Be sure the pots are biodegradable. These will serve as favors (see below). 

Greeting guests. Dress yourself in eco-friendly clothing made from fabric of bamboo, coconut fiber or cottons and linen that are eco-certified. For kudos galore, pass out their cocktails presented in large, round, green coconut shells. Once all guests are assembled, serve the appetizers and ask each guest for the suggestion about trash to treasure or eco-friendly resolution.

Souvenir menus. Print each menu on green card stock and then cut into circle to symbolize the green earth.

 

Room décor. Make a statement about the purpose of Earth Day by displaying thoughtful, clever slogans for Earth Day. Add other touches such as a globe, potted plants or anything obviously made of recycled materials.

 

Table décor. Use linens in earth colors and eco-friendly fabrics. For example, for placemats, use bamboo ones or cut burlap into circles or rectangles. Tie eco-friendly fiber such as cotton ribbon around glassware and attach a green leaf to the knot. For an elegant and sophisticated centerpiece, use your imagination to create a sculpture incorporating moss, leaves, branches and flowers or other of nature’s marvels. If suitable, add small wild creatures such as frogs or birds or giraffes.

 

Mood music. Play songs about the environment. E./g., Love Song to the Earth by Paul McCartney; The Beach Boys’ Don’t Go Near the Water, Wake Up America by Miley Cyrus, Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell.

 

Favor. As guests leave, present them with the seeds or seedlings you displayed at your entrance. If your guests are city dwellers with little or no garden space, give them herbs that they can grow in a sunny window. For guests with gardens, you will know best whether to give them herbs, vegetables or pretty plants. 
Note for favor. Nurture nature and enjoy her bounty. Plant these seeds/seedlings to honor the earth and harvest the joy of green growth.

RECIPE  GUIDELINES

 

COCKTAIL

GREEN COCONUT SURPRISE

Green coconuts are filled with coconut water, a delicious and refreshing liquid popular throughout the tropics.  Serve the coconut water plain or spike it with vodka and lime juice. We recommend water fresh from the coconut, not canned or bottled coconut water. If green coconuts are not available, Internet sites provide many ideas for Earth Day cocktails such as a greentini.

APPETIZERS

The three appetizers all have Mediterranean origin. The Mediterranean diet, heavy in plant foods, is celebrated for health, sustainability and terrific taste.

HUMMUS IN BELL PEPPER BOTTOMS

Preparation. Stuff mini green peppers or the bottoms of full-size ones with a savory hummus. Place a few whole green peppercorns on top to symbolize the earth. Kohlrabi circles and flat bread will do for dippers.

 

AVOCADO SALAD

Preparation. Prepare a zesty salad with avocado balls, grape or chopped tomatoes, green apples, and sweet onions. Use a melon baller to make the avocado balls. Make a Mediterranean-style dressing; include some green herbs such as oregano, basil, coriander or marjoram. Present in hollowed-out avocado shells.

 

SPICED GREEN OLIVES

Preparation. Place green olives in a dish, add some olive oil, orange zest, and za’atar or other Middle Eastern spices. Heat in a microwave for 30 seconds. Serve warm.

Plating the appetizers

For each guest, spread chopped parsley around the perimeter of a round appetizer plate. Arrange the three appetizers inside.

SOUP

SQUASH, CARROT, AND APPLE SOUP WITH PARSLEY BALL

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Here is a colorful, richly flavored soup with sweet and sour tastes to contrast with the vegetal tastes in the appetizers and entrée.

Preparation. Onion, carrot and butternut squash will provide sweetness; Granny Smith apples and a splash or two of fresh lemon juice will supply the sour. Enhance the soup’s soft orange color with a small green ball of parsley pesto. Process together parsley, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil.

Plating the soup. Green soup bowls would be marvelous. Beige or bisque will run a close second. Just before serving, place the parsley ball on top of the soup.

Complementary beverage. A fruity beer, especially one with apple flavor, will be perfect. A fizzy cider is an alternative, as is water with unpeeled cucumber slices

ENTREE

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PUFF PASTRY ROULADES WITH VEGETABLE STUFFING ON TOMATO COULIS 

Such an elegant, colorful dish with rich tastes should satisfy even your staunchly carnivorous guests.

Preparation. (1) Blanch chard leaves in water with a few drops of vinegar, just until they turn bright green. Pat dry. (2) For the filling, prepare a ratatouille mixture with finely chopped vegetables but without tomato. Add fresh or frozen green peas. (3) Make a tomato coulis. (4) Use frozen vegan puff pastry such as Pepperidge Farm. Roll the two sheets into 12” x 16” rectangles. Cover with chard leaves. Spoon the vegetable mixture evenly on top. Roll up the pastries, tucking in the ends. Rub the rolls with olive oil and bake according to package directions. Just before serving, slice each pastry roll into eight sections.

 

BAMBOO RICE

Bamboo rice is a soft, spring green made by infusing short-grain rice with bamboo juice.

Preparation. Cook according to package directions with slices of fresh ginger. Spoon the cooked rice into oiled ramekins, brush with olive oil on top and bake for 5 minutes at 350F. For a garnish with an Asian touch, deep fry chopped shallots or red onion. Use about 1/2 teaspoon for each topping.

 

BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Roasting vegetables intensifies their flavor and brings out their sweetness. Those who disdain Brussels sprouts will become fans when you transform their flavor by roasting them with whole garlic cloves. The garlic also sweetens up, becoming soft and yummy.

Preparation. Roast the sprouts with olive oil and whole peeled garlic cloves.

Plating the entrée

Place a circle of tomato coulis at the top portion of each plate. Slice roulades into rounds and place two on top of the coulis on each plate. Unmold the bamboo rice below and to one side of the roulades. If using, top with the garnish of fried shallots or red onion. On the other side of the plate, place a portion of Brussels sprouts.

Complementary beverage

To balance the acid of the ratatouille, you will need a spicy wine. A perfect match to ratatouille, a dish associated with Provence, is a wine from the region, a Bandol red that contains a high proportion of the spicy Mourvedre grape. A spicy rioja is another good choice. 

Salad

SALAD OF “FLOWERS” IN A “VASE”

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What could be more representative of earth’s beauty and bounty than a striking salad that looks like flowers in a vase?

Preparation. Use cucumbers for the vases. Cut long, thick seedless cucumbers into four crosswise sections. Scoop out light-green “flower” balls from the insides with a melon baller, leaving a base about ¼-inch thick. 

 

For the “flowers,” use the cucumber balls, dark green caper berries and small grape tomatoes. The “flowers” will need a stem. Cut a small incision at one end of these flowers and spear them onto narrow strips of carrot, daikon, red or green pepper. Make the strips long enough so that the flowers project well above the top of the vase. Place 4 – 6 flowers in each vase and flesh out the arrangement with curly lettuce.

Plating the salad. Cover a small round plate with chopped parsley or chives. Center one vase with its flowers on the plate. Pass alongside a small pitcher of your favorite vinaigrette to pour over it.

DESSERTS

You must use recipes for vegan chocolate because, with the exceptions of cocoa powder and unsweetened chocolate, all chocolate contains milk. Recipes for vegan chocolate substitute almond or other plant-derived milk for cow’s milk.

 

WHITE CHOCOLATE BARK

Accentuate the importance of trees for Earth Day with a dessert suggesting the bark of aspen or birch trees. 

Preparation. Bake a vegan white chocolate bark, adding whole green pistachio nuts into the batter. Before baking, use a knife to make some lines that resemble the horizontal striations of those trees. 

 

CHOCOLATE FONDUE WITH FRUIT AND NUT DIPPERS

Preparation. Chocolate fondue is an easy-to-make, fun dessert that is sure to please. For the dippers, use kiwi slices, seedless green grapes, or honeydew balls plus any other fruit that you think would taste good chocolate-covered. To serve nuts, such as pecan or walnut halves, the host may use tongs to dip the nuts and place on individual plates.

Complementary beverage.  Framboise or other fruit-based liqueur is complementary in taste and concept.

Plating?

EASY DAZZLE RECIPE GUIDELINES

 

Cocktail. A simple substitute is a green liqueur such as Chartreuse or Midori melon liqueur, served on the rocks, with champagne or seltzer.

 

Appetizers. You can purchase hummus and spiced olives so those two are the ones to go to.

 

Soup or Salad. Go for the salad. It’s unusual in conception, intriguingly tasty with great crunch, very pretty and refreshing. The soup, which can be made ahead and frozen, is the choice when preparation time must be minimized.

 

Entrée. Bamboo rice and the Brussels sprouts are equally easy to make. Choose bamboo rice if you wish to emphasize the uncommon; choose the Brussels sprouts for green-ball symbolism and hearty flavor.

 

Desserts. You will find easy-to-make vegan recipes for both the white chocolate bark and the fondue. Your choice.

 

Favor. If you used seeds or seedlings at your entrance, they will be the favor. Alternatively, purchase vegan chocolate bars and wrap in green paper with raffia tie.

LOOF LIRPA!  (APRIL FOOL!)
Inspiration: April Fool’s Day

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Gastronomic gags galore: appetizers look like desserts, the entrée poses as breakfast, desserts masquerade as appetizers and the souvenir menu turns it all topsy-turvy.

                                                                                         HOST’S INTRODUCTION
All Fools’ Day is all about jests and jokes. To make the most of the occasion, why not plan a party of gastronomic gags with seriously delicious food? Spoof your guests in two ways. First, disguise each dish to look like something it is not. Your guests arrive. Looking at your cocktail table and then rolling their eyes, one exclaims, “Is that a cake?” April Fool! It’s a round loaf of bread, cut into two layers, each slathered with an olive tapenade and “frosted” with tangy goat cheese embellished with flowers. Looks like a cake and tastes just great. For dessert? How about pizza? Well, yes, but April Fool! Make a pizza, a pie crust topped with a tomato sauce and dabs of cheese. But! Make the crust sweet, the sauce richly red and jam-packed with complex sweetness from roasted tomatoes and ripe strawberries. Top it all with a luscious combination of mascarpone, melted white chocolate and heavy cream.

You have probably guessed the second spoof, an apparent reversal of the normal order of courses… but April Fool! The actual food is in the usual order. Guests start with “coffee,” a cocktail made with a coffee liqueur. The appetizers look like desserts but are savory; the desserts look like appetizers but are lusciously sweet. The entrée is disguised as food for a different time of day, breakfast.  

While everyone is familiar with the idea of April Fool’s Day as a day for pranks, not so many know the origin of this tradition. Heighten your guests’ enjoyment and appreciation of your details of dazzle; describe the origin to them. With the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1582, New Year’s Day was moved from April 1st to January 1. However, there were many who continued to celebrate the New Year on April 1. Traditionalists who did that were ridiculed, sent on fools’ errands and were the recipients of practical jokes. Thus, jesters, clowns and jokes are associated with April Fool’s Day, as well as customs to greet a new year, such as noise makers, merrymaking, etc. We suggest that, once guests are assembled, you play Auld Lang Syne while explaining the origin.

Follow this menu and each of your guests will adore being an

APRIL FOOL!

Appropriate for: Dinner parties around April 1, when spoofs and surprise suit the occasion or whenever you want the focus on fun.

MENU

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Liatkcoc
Coffee

 

Stressed
Black and White Layer Cake
Pear Tart
Melon Balls with Whipped Cream

 

Dalas
Lettuces with Creamy Dressing

 

Tsafkaerb
Pancakes
Eggs, Sunny Side Up

 

Puos
Cucumber-Mint 

 

Sreziteppa
Tomato-Cheese Pizza
Guacamole

                                                                    DETAILS OF DAZZLE


Invitation. To ensure surprise, make the invitation quite simple and ordinary. E.g: We are having a dinner party on (date here). Please join us. Do not mention April Fool’s Day.

Entrance décor. On the door to your dwelling, place a sign that indicates that you are not in but that the door is open and they should come in. E.g: Sorry – had to run an errand, will be back in 2 hours, but come in, dinner is on the table. Or: Sorry – we won a trip to Vegas, but come in. Dinner is in the microwave. Please lock door when you leave.

Greeting guests. Hide behind your door. When guests open it, rattle a noisemaker and yell, “April Fool!” Hand them a noise maker so they can help to greet the next guests. You may want to wear a dunce cap and give one to each guest. If you can, dress as a jester. Or wear a bathrobe over party clothes and unrobe when all guests have arrived.

Escort guests to the living room where the gorgeously decorated “layer cake” is prominently displayed. Give them a printed menu, joking that they will need a guide for this dinner. (See below) The menu, of course, is part of the fun. As shown, it reverses spelling and shows a reversed order of courses. Give your guests time to have fun “translating” the menu and talking about its irregularities such as starting a meal with sweets. (“That’s an Asian thing, isn’t it?”) At the right moment, announce that you will now cut the cake. Do so with fun and flair, and then proceed in the same vein with the rest of the dinner.

Souvenir Menus. Print the menu on parchment paper or card stock. Roll it into a cylinder, tie with colorful ribbon and add some small bells.

Room décor. Place, as appropriate, jesters, clowns, anything associated with jokes. You might want to check out the Internet or a local fun store for pranks and practical jokes. As April 1st was once New Year’s Day, noisemakers and confetti will enhance the theme. Add touches that strike your whimsy – using jester cards for place names or other decoration, or changing the lighting from overhead to candles with different courses.

Table décor. Use mismatched table linens in bright colors. Reverse the position of plates and centerpieces. Run plates with soup bowls down the center of your table and put a small vase or bowl with flowers where the plates should be. Position stemware and flatware at its traditional place, but use reverse order, i.e., fork on right, knife on left, stemware starting on left. After guests sit, they may exchange the position of plates and flowers.

Mood music. Once all guests are assembled, capture and focus their attention on the theme by playing Auld Lang Syne. Then explain the origin of All Fools Day and break out the noisemakers and confetti. For the rest of the evening, many songs in the popular vein suggest jesters and jokes, mischief and pranks: What Kind of Fool Am I? Goodbye Cruel World (I’m Off to Join the Circus), Kathy’s Clown, My Foolish Heart, (He’s a Clown) That Charlie Brown. For some, the answer is secular music from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Carmina Burana and Tyl Oleanspiegel’s Merry Pranks are choices for the classically inclined. You might prefer something mysterious such as Phantom of the Opera or something sinister such as Three Penny Opera.  

Favor. Present each guest with a beautifully wrapped, small gift box. Inside, place a small mirror wrapped in paper with the note on top.
Note for favor: Use this quote from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: “‘Foolery, sir, does walk about the orb like the sun; it shines everywhere.” When your guests open the paper they will see themselves! To soften the joke, provide another quote from Twelfth Night: “This fellow’s wise enough to play the fool...” Alternatively, use an empty box that simply says, “April Fool!” Or the box might contain a silly fortune or a joke on a small strip of paper.

RECIPE GUIDELINES
With Suggestions for Plating and Complementary Beverages

 

                                                                                             COCKTAIL
In keeping with the reversals on the menu, start with what looks like coffee, but is actually a cocktail made with coffee liqueur. A Black Russian combines coffee liqueur with vodka (1 part liqueur to 2 parts vodka); a White Russian adds 1 part light cream. Ask your guests whether they prefer their coffee black or with cream. Or you may simply combine the coffee liqueur with soda. Serve in coffee cups, regular size or small demi-tasse/espresso cups.                

 

APPETIZERS
BLACK AND WHITE LAYER CAKE
Black Olive Tapenade and Goat Cheese

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Lead off your evening of gastronomic gags with what looks like a gorgeous layer cake.
Preparation. The idea is simple. Slice a round loaf of bread into three horizontal sections. Place the section with the bottom crust on a cake plate. Slather it with a spread. We like a black olive tapenade for taste and color that contrasts with the “frosting.” Add the middle slice and top it with the same spread. Finish with the top crust section. Cover sides and top with young goat cheese. If it is not easily spreadable add a bit of sour cream. Add decorations such as edible flowers, fondant ribbons or whatever pleases your fancy. You will need a sharp, serrated blade to cut this “cake.” 

 

                                                                                        PEAR TART
                                                                                    Asian Pear Tart

Pear tart is a classic and beautiful dessert. Make the crust and fruit savory and (April Fool!) you have a delightful and delicious appetizer. 
Preparation. Our favorite take on this trick is a crust made from ground almonds and Zwieback flavored with cinnamon. For the filling, we bake Asian pear slices with butter, sweet soy sauce and ground anise. The taste is surprisingly meaty so the dish delivers a double dose of surprise from taste and appearance. Whatever recipes you use for crust and pears, place pear slices on the crust in the classic pinwheel pattern. Decorate with almond slices. Serve warm.

                                                              MELON BALLS WITH WHIPPED CREAM
                                           Wine-Poached Salmon and Sole with Horseradish Cream

Make fish balls look like balls of watermelon and honeydew. Top with horseradish cream for an appetizer that looks like a summer dessert.
Preparation. Poach salmon in red wine to intensify its flavor and color.  Poach a white fish in white wine and then blend with chives or dill for green color and extra flavor. Form both fish preparations into balls. Make a horseradish cream for topping. Serve cold.
                                                                                     Plating the appetizers 
Present each of these bogus beauties separately. (1) Place the “cake” on your most impressive cake stand. (2) The pear tart will look lovely on a colorful round plate. (3) The melon balls will be beautiful in crystal or glass stemware or small bowls. Fill with a mixture of the balls of salmon and sole.  Using a pastry bag, pipe out the horseradish sauce in a swirling design to suggest whipped cream. Top with a sprig of fresh mint.

SOUP

                                                                LETTUCES WITH CREAMY DRESSING
                                                                                          Lettuce Soup

Prepare a bright green soup, top with frisée and crème fraîche and your soup will make everyone think it’s a salad, as it almost is.
Preparation. Start with a soup base including butter-sautéed aromatics such as shallots and/or leeks combined with chicken stock. Simmer until the vegetables are soft, then boil the soup base down by about ½. Add a drop or two of white vinegar, parsley leaves and roughly chopped or torn Romaine lettuce, including all the dark green outer leaves. The vinegar will enhance the green color of the lettuce and parsley. Briefly pulse the soup in a food processor so that it has a rough texture. Simmer gently for 5 minutes. Put in bowls. Cover the soup, except for an outer ring, with a thin layer of frisée. Drop a generous dollop of crème fraîche in the center and top that with a small stem of parsley leaves.
Plating the soup
Shallow bowls will work best and white ones will set off the bright green soup and make a pretty picture of alternating rings of white bowl, bright green soup, pale green frisée, white crème fraîche and bright green parsley sprig.
Complementary beverage
As it is customary NOT to serve wine with salad, serve one. A crisp white wine with herbal or grassy notes will complement this soup. Try a Sauvignon blanc from the Loire Valley or New Zealand.

ENTREE

PANCAKES
Roast Leg of Lamb in Savory Crêpes

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The idea is simple. Roast a leg of lamb, shred it, embed it in a flavorful sauce and encase it in a savory crepe.
Preparation. To provide some surprise and distinctive tastes we suggest marinating a boneless leg of lamb in a paste made from garlic, dried lavender buds and chopped rosemary. After roasting, skim the fat from the pan, add red wine and a bit of balsamic vinegar for the sauce. Shred the lamb and mix it with the sauce. Make crêpes flavored with ground lavender buds and finely chopped rosemary.

EGGS, SUNNY SIDE UP
Purées of Parsnips and Butternut Squash
 

Again, a simple idea. The white of these “eggs” is puréed parsnip, the “yolk” puréed butternut squash.
Preparation. For good taste, you will need flavoring for both vegetables. (1) For the parsnips, put allspice berries and some white vinegar into cold water and bring to a boil. Add peeled, sliced parsnips and simmer until tender. Put through a food mill or mash until very smooth. Add butter to taste. (2) Halve the squash lengthwise. Lightly oil a baking sheet. Place squash cut-side down and bake until soft. Remove skin. Put through a food mill or mash until very smooth. Mix with finely chopped caramelized onions.

Plating the entrée

Place two filled crêpes angled away from each other on each plate. Drizzle some of the red wine sauce over each crêpe. In the space below the crêpes, place the “egg.” For each “egg,” fill a 3-inch round cookie cutter with parsnips and remove. With the flat of a spoon, make a hollow in center of the parsnips. Fill the hollow with the squash, rounding it up in the middle and smoothing the sides so that it looks like the yolk of a sunny-side-up egg.

Complementary beverage

With the savory flavors in these dishes, a medium-bodied red will be best, perhaps a French Rhône or an Australian Shiraz. 

SALAD
CUCUMBER-MINT SOUP
Cucumber and Mint Salad with Green Mayonnaise

Topped with a green mayonnaise, this salad looks like a soup.  It refreshes with the coolness of cucumber and mint. Add some zip with a garnish of shredded ricotta salata cheese.
Preparation. Slice very young or seedless cucumbers into thin slices, no more than 1/8 – inch thick. Mix with chopped mint. Make a green mayonnaise; we suggest one made with peppery arugula as well as herbs of your choice.
Plating the salad. Place the cucumber slices on the bottom of a small soup bowl or large cup.  Cover with green mayonnaise and smooth the top to look like a liquid.  Shave shreds of ricotta salata on top.

DESSERTS
TOMATO-CHEESE PIZZA

Strawberry/Tomato Tart with White Chocolate/Mascarpone Cheese


By this time, your guests have got the idea – the dishes look like something they are not. So surprise them again. Loof Lirpa! Make a dessert that really is a pizza – and make sure your guests appreciate that fact! After all, a pizza is a piecrust with a tomato-flavored sauce and a cheese topping. All you have to do is sweeten the piecrust, tomato sauce and cheese.
Preparation. Here’s how. (1) Use a dough recipe that is rich with butter and sugar. Be sure to make enough for the size of a large pizza. Put aside ¼ of the dough.  Roll out the rest of the dough to about 2 inches more than the diameter of the pizza pan. Transfer to pan and press firmly against bottom and sides. To make the rim of the crust, roll out the reserved dough to a square of about 3/8-inch thickness. Slice off strips and place around the edge of the dough in the pan. Bake with weights until edges are brown. (2) For the sauce, roast very ripe tomatoes or cherry tomatoes with sugar until they collapse. When cool, pass through a sieve and discard the solids. Purée with fresh strawberries, sugar and a bit of lemon juice. For the cheese, make a thick ganache with white chocolate and mix in about the same amount of mascarpone cheese. Refrigerate until stiff. (3) To assemble, spread tomato-strawberry sauce over cooled pie crust, inside the rim but not on top of it. Dot with as much white chocolate sauce as you like. Use more for an “extra cheese pizza.” Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

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GUACAMOLE
Avocado Mousse with Cookies

North Americans do not associate avocados with dessert, but not so the South Americans who make luscious drinks and desserts with sweetened avocado. 
Preparation. Make a sweet avocado mousse to masquerade as guacamole. Process avocado with sugar and a bit of lime. A pinch of hot pepper will enliven it. Complete the illusion with thin cookies to imitate tortilla chips.

Plating the desserts

Present them separately. Because desserts are usually served elegantly, go casual. (1) Ask your local pizza parlor for one of their boxes and put your “pizza” in it. Use a wheeled pastry wheel or knife to slice the pie into wedges. (2) Use a large earthenware bowl for the avocado mousse that can be passed around. Surround with thin cookies as if serving guacamole with chips.

Complementary beverage

Why not finish with brut champagne? It is the perfect beverage with this set of desserts and is in keeping with the idea of reversals.

EASY DAZZLE RECIPE GUIDELINES

Cocktail. Do it as described. It’s easy and giggles are guaranteed.

Appetizers. The cake is a splendid spoof so it’s the best choice and an easy one at that because you can purchase all the ingredients. A second simple appetizer is a colorful dip, e.g., green goddess or beet. Serve a scoop in a small dessert bowl with lentil or other cookie-like chips. Voila! Cake with ice cream and cookies.

 

Soup or Salad. The salad that looks like soup is easier.

Entrée. Substitute lamb sausage for the lamb crepes. We love tasty, spicy merguez sausage, available at some Near Eastern groceries or online at D’Artagnan. Make the purees a day ahead.

Dessert. The guacamole is, of course, simpler than the pizza. However, a simple version is possible. It won’t look as authentic or be as delicious as the one described, but you could use a regular pie crust filled with red jam and topped with sweetened mascarpone.

Favor. It’s simple. Place a small mirror or a silly joke in a small box along with a note that says, “April Fool!”  You can get it ready days ahead.