Another long delay in posts but I have a bunch coming.
A couple groups including vegetarians came over in mid-November. For the first duo, it was just four of us and I made Mom’s Penne Vodka recipe. It came out well but I was a little short on sauce–I should have kept back some of the pasta when I was mixing it. A tiny bit spicy for me, too, even though I went with the low-end red pepper measurement, but the guests liked it fine.
That Sunday I was going to a Gourmet Club meeting (all Partners of students up here), and the theme was Foods We’re Thankful For. I was bringing an appetizer and decided to ignore the harvest-theme in favor of something I’m actually thankful for. For appetizers, that left me with two eggplant options, Mirza (a Persian spread/dip that I’m obsessed with) or Strange Flavor Eggplant, a fantastic recipe from Barbara Tropp’s China Moon Cookbook. Since Mirza looks even worse than most eggplant dishes and really leans on excellent tomatoes for flavor, I went with the chinese version, which is super simple and wonderful. It was the amuse bouche at China Moon, and it’s sweet + spicy (“strange flavor); delicious on crispy garlic croutons/crostini.
Lots of ginger, garlic, scallions and some red pepper for the aromatics.
I was a little nervous about taking it to the club (afraid it would come off as weird and off-topic) but people loved it. It’s an especially good intro point for people who don’t think they like eggplant!
The next night we were hosting a study group that Ben is advising. It was a total of eight, including two more vegetarians, so I spent Sunday afternoon on the phone with Mom as we both made meat lasagna. (I forgot to take any photos.) I also made a meat-free baked ziti. With about 4 pounds of meat, sauce, cheese and pasta resting in the fridge overnight, I just had to make dessert and salad on Monday. I baked another Mom recipe (sense a theme here?), an Almond cake that was more like a torte. I think maybe my pan was a bit big? The cake was very thin but delicious and quite rich since it’s mostly almond paste.
For salad I half-replicated a favorite salad from Inoteca in the city. I had mesclun instead of romaine, but I cut up half a head of radicchio and dressed those together, then topped each plate with a MOUNTAIN of finely shredded ricotta salata. (Now that I think of it I should have made a ricotta cake of some sort for dessert and had a themed meal!) My rotary grater worked perfectly for the cheese, which I’d feared would be a bit soft. It made a much fluffier pile than a regular grater would have.