Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dinner Party for One

When Peanut told me he had a dinner meeting, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Prepare a dinner full of food that Peanut doesn't eat, yet that I enjoy. Tonight was a special night: I created a dinner party for me!

These were the ingredients for the salad I had in mind. That bottle that says "XUX" is honey from Mexico from my coworker Annabelle who lives there and brought it back for me!

So, Peanut was home before I even had a chance to have my cocktail, so I made one for him, too. Lychee Martinis, an ode to my father. YUM.

When my father had (and has) dinner meetings, my mother is notorious for her popcorn dinners. I wasn't going to go that far, but decided to at least make a dessert in her honor. Here's the popped corn, not ready to eat yet!

Grilled Asian salmon (Peanut doesn't eat seafood) and a crunchy Asian noodle salad (Peanut hates peanut butter in anything other than on pretzels or with jelly. Peanut is a bit crazy.) The salmon was ok. Noodle salad with peanut dressing is one of my favorite dishes ever, and this one did NOT disappoint.

I melted chocolate chips and drizzled it on top of the popcorn, then stuck it in the refrigerator for an hour. My mom would be proud.
Some people think that every now and then you have to treat yourself to something special- a massage, a facial, whatever. In my opinion, if you really want to feel good about yourself, there's nothing more satisfying than putting forth some effort to actually do something where you are the only beneficiary. It's great to hear other people say "you're worth it, let me make dinner (and wash dishes!) for you," but can feel even better to say the same thing to yourself.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Battle Sambuca

Cindy thinks she's a better cook than me, so we decided to battle it out. We met on Friday at Grillfish with our sous-chefs/significant others and came up with a list of ten potential "secret ingredients." We met the next morning at 11 AM in Malcolm X Park and chose one from a bag:
We had to cook at least three dishes containing Sambuca and take them to Brad's house by 7PM. Our expert panel of judges consisted of Brad, Bill, Teague, and Teague's sister EJ, who was visiting from ALASKA!
My appetizer was an oyster shooter, which was a shucked raw oyster (store bought, I was not even going to attempt to shuck myself!), homemade spicy cocktail sauce, topped with Sambuca. Cindy's appetizer was endive filled with a salmon-Sambuca spread.

For our next dish, Cindy wowed the judges with a shrimp bisque. I made salad with a Sambuca vinaigrette (juice of a lemon, 2 T Sambuca, 2 cloves garlic, 2 T basil, and pepper).

For my main course, I made a pork sausage lasagna with a homemade Sambuca tomato sauce. People loved it, but it was a bit too sweet for me.

Cindy made pork tenderloin with a grapefruit Sambuca slaw. This is how they were served, to save plates. We get zero points for plating, at least for this dish.

Inspired by my mother, I then made some Sambuca creme brulee. I even caramelized the sugar at Brad's house for dramatic effect. Cindy made Sambuca brownies served with Sambuca whipped cream. Oh, I also wore this vest to distract Cindy, who covets it.

Sous-chefs J.G.G and Peanut shared and intimate moment in Brad's bedroom during the judging.

And the winner is....
Cindy! Look at what a good loser I am- all smiles on the outside but tears on the inside. I'm kidding! It was lots of fun, but if I never see, smell, or taste Sambuca again, that would be a-o.k.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Attendees (From upper left): Seamous, Cliff, Mountie, Peanut, Sparkles, Liz, Baker, George
Cocktail: Prosecco
Appetizers: Cheese (Maytag bleu, Paranno, Dubliner Cheddar) & crackers, olives stuffed with sundried tomatoes, cajun mix (all store bought)
Dinner: Caesar salad with pancetta & roasted tomatoes, garlic bread (made by Peanut), spaghetti w/meatballs (mixed beef, veal, pork)
Dessert: Tiramisu (made by Baker)

After some festive drinking at Mountie's New Year's Eve party, I invited these folk to Peanut and my place (without asking Peanut, as I was reminded repeatedly for the next week). We attended a 3-year old's birthday party that afternoon hosted by one of the best cook's I know in Washington, DC. She practically threw me out of her home at 3 pm, when I told her I hadn't started cooking the meatballs yet, and had to stop at Vace on my way home to buy the pancetta.

Mmmm.... raw meat!!!

I had to have Peanut stand next to me while I browned the meatballs... I am still uncomfortable frying anything that requires more that 2 Tablespoons of oil!

Yay! Browned meat!!!

OK... so then I forgot to take pictures until we were nearly finished. Peanut thinks this pic is "disgusting." I think it is a visual representation of how much everyone enjoyed their meal. Ok, fine, it's my plate.

Baker made this delicious tiramisu! He told us he skimped on the rum and used only 3 tablespoons instead of 8, but it was still delicious!

Sparkles feeding Cliff some of Baker's delicious tiramisu!

My mother bought me this spaghetti for Christmas. I don't know where you can find it other than at the store across the street from my brother in Cambridge, MA, but it is DELICIOUS (and much better than the multigrain spaghetti Peanut bought last week). The packaging is pretty awesome, too.