Party Food

Last Saturday I threw my friends a party, and as per usual, I did most of the cooking myself, because I can. Buffet style made the most sense, because a number of friends were contributing food. I was pleased with the spread, and soon enough everybody was happily munching their way through salads, dips, wraps and meat or Falafel balls; a number of people asked me for recipes, so I thought I’d write up a couple things.

Minty Meat Balls

IMG_1914To me, meatballs are such a generic, unremarkable thing that I was kind of surprised to be even asked about them. Some use lamb, some use a pork and beef mix; the batch I made last Friday was from a beef and lamb mix. They turn out best, I think, if you add to the ground meat: minced shallots, garlic, eggs, mustard, tomato paste, very finely chopped fresh mint and parsley, oregano, cinnamon, cumin, salt, pepper and bit of sugar. Making meatballs is a truly tedious task, and I had to put the radio on and even enlist my teenager’s help for an hour when he came home from school. There must have been about 400 meatballs all in all, so I was busy for a solid 2 hours; I can tell you we won’t be having them again any time soon, though. I’m over meatballs for now … But people really enjoyed them. So – I hope you will too.

Seasonal Fall Pesto

IMG_3964IMG_1900.JPGPesto is always only as good as its ingredients. The fresher the herbs, the better your Parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic and pine nuts, the better your Pesto will be. I added some arugula, parsley and mint to the mix, some sunflower seeds and Turkish hazelnuts, and I didn’t use a lot of garlic but plenty of olive oil. It turned out nice! (Basil is obviously the basis, but you knew that, right.) Puree with a blender, season with salt, pepper, dash of sugar. And you’re done!

Sweet and Spicy Cilantro Dip

IMG_3965This is a light, summery sauce I sometimes make when we grill, and it works as a salsa dip too. For the party, it was designed as a dip for the meatballs and/or Falafel.

Sauté in olive oil but don’t let brown 2 minced shallots, add a can of tomatoes, a couple tablespoons tomato paste, some minced lemon peel, a bunch of chopped cilantro, tablespoon of chili flakes, salt and quite a bit of sugar. Stew for a while, add spices to taste, and – a thing I would not ordinarily do to a tomato sauce – puree. It’s good hot and cold.

Happy Accident Vegan Pasta Salad

A pasta salad is a pasta salad is a pasta salad, you say? Not this time it wasn’t! I had been thinking of my picky little eater when making it, but instead, it mostly ended up on my vegan friend C.’s plate, because I had accidentally not added any Parmesan cheese:-), and what a good thing! Obviously, we’re conditioned to always eat Parmesan cheese with pasta, unless it’s a dish with seafood or fish (Spaghetti Vongole with grated cheese? No way!). But it was so good with the roasted pine nuts that I didn’t even miss the cheese, which is probably why I forgot to add any. There’s no picture, but you can probably imagine what it looked like anyway. Ingredients were: Small pasta, olive oil, bit of garlic, 1 tomato, blanched, peeled, seeded and cubed, roasted pine nuts, fresh basil, salt and pepper, all mixed together in a bowl.

Pretty Big Lemon Pound Cake

img_1575A word on creaming butter. I may be carrying owls to Athens, and you may roll your eyes at me and think DUH!!! as you read this. To me, it’s a big deal, for I remembered something very important this past weekend. I know that my dad always used to say ‚when you think you’re done beating, continue for another 10 minutes‘. He was referring to egg whites, I think, but it makes even more of a difference when creaming butter. Lemon pound cake may not be the most exceptional thing in the world, but then again, when made with love and patience, it can be a melt-in-your-mouth-tender piece of buttery, lemony indulgence. I had enlisted my youngest cake lover’s help for making the batter. She’s an enthusiastic baker, much as she finds cooking boring, and I made her cream the butter and sugar. Then a friend called, and (quoting, as I always do, my dad), I had asked my daughter to continue with her task for a couple more minutes. Then I walked away from the noise of the electric mixer to talk to my friend, forgetting everything that was going on in the kitchen over our conversation. When I came back, my poor kid was still creaming the butter, and I have to say it was really spectacularly fluffy! It made for such a wonderfully light and tender cake that I’m going to keep in mind that some things do take as long as they take, especially when it comes to baking.

We dug out my gran’s old copper pudding mold, which always makes for such pretty cakes, with its whorls and ridges – and it was a really really nice center piece for the buffet table! For the batter, I used 500 g butter, 350 g sugar, 100 g ground almonds, 400 g flour, 1 1/2 p vanilla, generous pinch of salt, lotsalotsa grated lemon peel, 6 eggs and 1 p baking soda. We carefully buttered the mold and dusted it with flour before spooning in the batter, and baked it in a 180 °C oven for like 1 1/2 hours, I swear it took forever because it was so huge.

And that’s all I have to say today, stitch readers and food lovers :-). I’m signing off with a picture of the crochet project I started by the beach in France – a baby blanket for the latest addition to the family, young J. in A. May he have a sweet, snuggly time with it.

Take care everyone, and if you’d be so kind and let me know how you made the following dishes, that would be dope:

the hokkaido pumpkin thing

the veggie quiche

the gingered carrots

and (in my daughter’s name)

the raspberry dessert 🙂

Thank you!


Oh, Rocky…!

Sweet Transvestite

If you grew up any time after 1975, there was probably no way you missed it. Be it in a movie theater, on TV late at night, or on video/DVD – when I was young, The Rocky Horror Picture Show was literally everywhere. Remember Tim Curry’s iconic smoky, dramatically made-up eyes, deep red lip gloss, the cross-dressing burlesque getup, and the glittering heels …? Oh my! I don’t know about you, but I crushed on him so hard! Obviously, at 15, I was way too young to get even half of the innuendo in the dialogue, but the movie’s whole playful approach to morbidity and decadence spoke to me loud and clear, as did the music. I loved the main character’s no prisoners (nor boundaries for that matter) attitude towards sex, and I could relate (as probably many, many other teenagers) to his credo of ‚don’t dream it, be it‘. Obviously, in the movie, it’s what kills Frank N Furter in the end – but as teenagers are invincible as well as immortal, that’s just details, right…?

Maybe that’s why I never really bought into gender stereotypes so much, or maybe the movie tapped into my disposition towards rainbow colors, I don’t know. It’s probably unsurprising that I unapologetically enjoy steamy gay romance novels, that I love all the characters on ‚Queer as Folk‘, and that I ship Kurt and Blaine from ‚glee‘.

But what brought my doing the time warp down memory lane on? The other weekend, we re-watched Rocky Horror with our teenage son and his girlfriend, who are now the same age I was when I first saw it. I don’t really know what the kids thought, about the movie, and about us, afterwards. Watching this particular movie with them made me feel a bit weird, to be honest, like breaking the Fourth Wall or something. I never watched sexual content with my kid before, jeez. I know it’s not porn, but there are a few kind of … um … suggestive scenes in that movie, and I usually keep my obsessions _to_ myself. But anyway, now it’s done, and they probably – like me as a kid – didn’t get all of the subtext anyway. And of course I’m all about being authentic with my children, so there.

But isn’t it interesting to see how you can still be so caught up in the magic of a movie, after having loved it for decades? Isn’t it reassuring that there still are films like that, even in this short attention span TV show format dominated day and age?

And since I’m already deeply into the overthinking, the fact that I still found Tim Curry as Frank N Furter hot after 35 years got me pondering what makes us ‚like‘ actors via their screen characters in the first place. Obviously we don’t know them from Adam, bless them, and they have absolutely no business sharing with the world who they really are. Still, I can never help reading up on actors I ‚like‘ whenever I get attached to a character on a show or in a movie – easy enough to do these Internet days. More often than not, actors will seem vastly different from the people they play, and still, it makes me have to sort of go through a detachment process sometimes, reconciling their screen persona and what they reveal of themselves when they’re interviewed as ‚themselves‘.

It can get complicated! Say, you love a character like Spock. And then you see Leonard Nimoy being this friendly, serious dude who is a married man and a dad – mind-boggling, right? Does it make you love Spock any less? No, but you may need to accept that Spock isn’t real, and that can be sort of painful – it’s not easy, being a fangirl ;-)).

And then, some of them also seem way less interesting or likeable than their screen characters. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise that sometimes they come across as self-absorbed, vain or boring or, or even as a bit on the dumb side. But I have to confess that watching the wrong interview with an actor can make me stop liking a character, and literally stop watching a show altogether: instant detachment happened! Does that make me a highly disturbed individual, I wonder? Or a bit on the shallow side, myself? What do you think? Have you experienced this kind of thing yourself? Hope I’m not alone …

Anyway, we’re back from our summer vacation (which was wonderful, but that’s another post), school’s in full swing, and so is my latest book translation – a very good knitting book on cable patterns. I won’t be doing much else for a few weeks now, and may not post a lot here because I need to sleep. I just had to get this one out of my system, because it’s been on my mind.

Signing off today with my favorite picture from this summer, obviously showing what I love most in the world. Take care, everyone!