Sunday, June 22, 2008

Por Raul!



Attendees: Javier, Julio, Simon, my favorite Filipino Martin, and Peanut
Cocktail:
Frozen watermelon mojitos
Appetizers:
Shellfish watermelon ceviche
Main Course:
Filete de Cerdo con Adobo
Side Dishes:
Javier's plantains with black beans
Dessert:
Mango flan on chocolate

So I spent the past week in Puerto Rico for work, and promised Julio that I would make him a Cuban feast upon my return. What can I say? I was inspired by the view from my hotel:




And the watermelon on sale at Whole Foods:



Patrick even outdid himself in setting the table:



The cocktail had to entail some Puerto Rican white Bicardi! Behold the frozen watermelon mojitos:



One of the highlights of my time in Puerto Rico was scouring Old San Juan with Oscar for a ceviche lunch. We challenged each other to make some of our own upon our return. I think I probably beat him to the punch.... and I've gotta get points for presentation! (Oscar: watermelon ceviche is TO DIE FOR)!





Javier told me that he would take full responsibility for making the savory plantains. He gave me a quick lesson:



... I can't believe I allowed him to fry in my kitchen! But they were TOTALLY worth it!



The Filete de Cerdo con Adobo was also wonderful - a pork loin marinated in a delicious citrus-based marinade and cooked on the stove.



I didn't have high hopes for the dessert when I made it this morning, but it was surprisingly tasty! It kind of looks like a hamburger, but it's actually a flan served on top a very thin chocolate brownie.



I really had SUCH a great time tonight. The food was ok, but dinner parties are really all about the friends that you share the night with! Martin brought over his video camera: here's a sneak peak into the night.

video

Monday, June 9, 2008

Welcome Summer


Attendees: Lola, Duke, Carter, Trevor, and Peanut
Cocktail:
Pimm's Cup

Appetizer:
Crudite

Main Course:
Hamburgers on English Muffins

Sides:
Coleslaw and corn on the cob

Dessert: S'mores Pie!

So, this pic of Duke, Peanut and me was taken a while back at Lola's birthday. Lola didn't want her pic taken, then she and Carter started talking about privacy and the internet, and the mood to take people pics was lost! Oh well, we love this pic anyway.

REGARDLESS, Lola, Peanut, and I said farewell to the Summer of '07 with a fine meal last year, so I thought it was only appropriate to invite her and her man, Duke, for a welcome to Summer '08! Carter and Trevor also joined for the summer-inspired meal!
The night began with delicious and refreshing Pimm's Cups (which, as Carter soon realized, do contain alcohol). DC summers are so uncomfortably hot and humid. I think that a crudite platter is a cool and refreshing appetizer to serve during such weather. We kept the stalks on the organic carrots and radishes for dramatic flair.



In 2 short weeks, Patrick and I will have a sister-in-law whose family runs a farm that grows corn! I can't wait to share pics of us picking our own corn on our way to the shore! Melanie told us that her favorite way to prepare corn is to boil it, so that's what we did!



I love coleslaw. This was a great recipe, with carrots, red, and green cabbage.



Peanut's plate: A perfect combination of corn-on-the-cob, cole slaw, and a burger served on an English Muffin (a delicious idea inspired by renowned chef and friend Geoffrey Zakarian) with melted blue cheese, lettuce, tomato, and carmelized onions! Peanut grilled the burgers... to perfection!



But... the star of the night was (in my humble opinion) the S'mores pie! As soon as I read about this recipe on my favorite food blog, www.smittenkitchen.com (run by my friend's friend's friend, or something like that), I knew that I had to make it (in fact, this was really the excuse for having a dinner party in the first place). First, I made a simple graham cracker crust and a delicious chocolate filling:



The next step was to make my own marshmallow topping. It started with boiling some sugar, corn syrup, and water to 260 degrees on a candy thermometer. Almost there:



Peanut poured the boiling syrup into a bowl of water and gelatin and I whipped for ~ five minutes:





It soon became very thick, and I poured it onto the chocolate pie:



... and chilled it. Minutes before i was ready to serve it, I broiled it for 3-4 minutes, to get that burnt marshmallow topping:




What a way to end of the night, and to welcome us to the torturous conditions that define DC summers. If I don't faint (as many know to be a real possibility), I'll be sure to post more "cool" meals to help get me through it.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Namaste!



Attendees: Mountie, Eliza, Cliff, George...



Attendees (continued): Bette, Peanut, and Van
Cocktails:
Lychee Martinis

Appetizers:
Spice mix and Vegetable Samosas (store bought)

Main Course:
Nepali Grilled Chicken with fresh jalapeno chutney

Sides:
Cucumber salad with hot spiced mustard dressing, naan, basmati rice, and raita

Dessert:
Metai (Store bought Indian sweets)


Peanut surprised me on Thursday: he woke up 30 minutes before me (a weekday first!) and by the time I had risen from bed, he had our Saturday menu all picked out! He had picked out 4 dishes from
Mangoes and Curry Leaves. I'm not going to lie- I was a bit frightened. I grew up on South Asian cuisine, and I knew that there was something of a magical touch in making it work. But I was willing to give it a shot.

First things first: Indian is all about the right spices, so I made Peanut walk with me after work on Friday to Georgetown, where we went to Dean and Deluca to buy two staple Indian spices:





Indian food is NOT about skipping steps. I got down and dirty with a mortar and pestle, grinding some cumin seeds.



After yoga on Saturday, Peanut and I also drove to Langley Park, where we stopped at Jasmine Bazaar and Udupi Palace, where we procured not only the mustard oil, naan, and metai, but also the vegetable samosas we served as an appetizer.



While I made the marinade for the chicken, I sent Peanut and his brother Van out to grill the chicken.



The chicken was delicious- the best bbq chicken we've ever made! Doesn't it look great?




This was the primary side dish: cucumber salad with hot spiced mustard dressing. I had never had anything like it before, and it made the trip to Langley Park for the 3 tablespoons of mustard oil totally worth it!



We also picked up a selection of metai, or Indian sweets. The orange pretzel-looking things at the bottom left are called jalebi- they are my favorite! I was so happy that Udupi Palace had them! I think I was the only one who liked them. Oh well...

In my opinion, this was one of the best meals I have ever made. Is it Peanut's ability to identify great recipes, or perhaps the Dean and Deluca spices? Or perhaps it's just in my genes!