Sunday, September 21, 2008

You are such a JERK!

And by jerk, I am of course referring to the most excellent style of Jamaican BBQ, the main culprit of which is the Habanero:

But I digress.

Attendees: Jack, Violet's Friend, J.G.G., Cindy, and Rick
Unexpected Prosecco (Cindy and J.G.G.'s treat!)

Dates stuffed with goat cheese

Main Course:
BBQ Jerk Chicken


Devil Dog Cake

Wouldn't you know that I woke up the morning after Rick's birthday thinking: "did I just agree to host a dinner party Sunday? Did Rick even make me invite Violet's friend?"

I love a date in the fall: for this simple appetizer, I removed the pits, stuffed each with goat cheese, and sprinkled the top with some toasted Di Camillo bread crumbs. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes and you're good to go!

Ugh. I thought I was getting good at taking food photographs. Oh well... this is my version of a delicious recipe for black bean soup care of Geoffrey Zakarian. I substituted bacon for serrano ham (they didn't have the ham at Whole Foods, and I wasn't in the mood to trek all the way up to Vace), walnut oil for hazelnut oil (again, not at Whole Foods), and I also skipped on cutting up the ham hock to use as a garnish (it just seemed gross). Oh, and I used a much cheaper sherry than was recommended (liquor stores aren't open here in DC on Sundays, so I just made do with what I had). Still, it was awesome.

Peanut grilled the jerk chicken to perfection, and I served it with Naan and Cachoombar. The latter is a spicy chopped salad of tomato, red onion and cucumber, with some cilantro, chopped chili pepper, lime juice, and spices (salt & pepper, cumin, cayenne).

A few months ago, Cindy asked that I make her the Devil Dog Cake featured on Smitten Kitchen. I couldn't believe that I remembered her request, but I was more than happy to oblige! The marshmallow frosting is like heaven.

What did I say about cooking healthy, again?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Hey Cupcake!

Rick's birthday was yesterday, and Violet's Friend convinced me to make him his favorite, carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, and take them to his place of employ.

Of course, he wasn't alone! Cindy, Peanut, Jack, and JT all made a showing (as did Javier, who got stuck taking the picture).

We surprised him, and learned that we couldn't sing "Happy Birthday To You" because it is copyrighted. Oh well, happy birthday, Rick!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Good thinking

For my regular job, they pay me to think. And while I wish I had all the answers, I am often confronted by the truth: I don't. Not even close. Lucky for me, I work with a bunch of other thinkers, and a few of my friends are thinkers as well. But they're located all over the place, so I can't invite them all for a dinner party!

I recently had a somewhat crazy thought that a triad of of geniuses/colleagues/friends helped me turn into a grant proposal: Beau (located with me here in DC), Kat (located in Los Angeles), and Anabelle (based out of Merida, Mexico). I wanted to do something special to thank them, so I decided to send homemade treats to each.

As soon as I saw the recipe for spicy brownies on smitten kitchen, I knew I had to try them. They were a bit "cake-y" (notice the crumbs on the bottom right) but the chocolate-y flavor enhanced with cardamom, chili pepper, and cinnamon made for a truly special treat.

Since on my last post I promised to be healthy, I also went to the Cooking Light website and found what seemed to be a delicious recipe for honey lemon drops. SO SIMPLE and they won rave reviews from all who tasted them!

And finally, a coworker recently sent me a card with a recipe for "madeleines au citron" from Claire Joyes' cookbook: "Monet's table: the cooking journals of Claude Monet." What better way to test out the recipe on other colleagues? I love the sponge-y texture of a Madeleine- and these were truly a delight.

So to Beau, Anabelle, and Kat....

(above packaging for Beau, based in DC)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Year of the Pig?

It's actually the Year of the Rat but you wouldn't think so after this summer! On Saturday, Peanut and his siblings threw a labor day picnic at the shore, making it my second pig roast of the summer and, perhaps, the second pig roast of my life. But we'll get to the pig in a second.

They asked me to make a sheet cake, but how does one decorate a labor day cake? I decided to send off summer with an ode to where I enjoy it most: the beach. A chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting for the sand, homemade butter cream for the sky and clouds, blueberries for the ocean, and topped off with candy chocolate shells and a lemon candy sky:

The pig, named after one of Peanut's brother's ex-girlfriends:

Peanut and his siblings talk a good talk, but when it came time to carve the thing, they relied on me and a neighbor.

Good bye summer! It was a blast. But I'm thinking that old age and homemade butter cream may be getting to my waist. So while I put away my Barefoot Contessa and break out the Cooking Light, I leave you with some labor day party pics to bring summer to a close:

Two of my favorite Stone Harbor gals.

Mountie came to the beach with us, and was responsible for blowing up the palm tree.

Mary Kay came up from Orlando (with Peanut)- SO CUTE!

Peanut's youngest brother (and the party bartender) likes his parrot on his left shoulder.

Peanut's other brother gets tackled.

Once a club kid, always a club kid.

The house that made it all possible, and site of many more labor day parties!