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The Best Laid (Dinner) Plans: The Menu

Blueprint, March/April 2007

Think of these recipes as dinner-party building blocks: People-pleasing and delicious, every one will become your signature dish (never mind that the only other thing you make is Lean Cuisine).

The Menu

Whipped Feta and Pepper Dip
Roasted Cornish Game Hens
Mashed Potatoes With Pancetta
Roasted Asparagus
Green Salad With Manchego
Rich Chocolate Cake

What to Drink
When guests arrive, pour Cava Avinyo Brut, a crisp, sparkling Spanish wine that's an inexpensive (and less predictable) alternative to Champagne ($16,

For dinner, serve a Cotes du Rhone or Syrah, and a smooth, non-oaky Chardonnay

As a nightcap, pour "his and hers" scotches. Macallan Cask Strength has a bold, toffee-like aroma, and Macallan Fine Oak 15 Years Old, served over ice, is lighter and delicate. (You decide which is his and which is hers.) $55 and $75 for 750 ml,