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
To 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
Pesto 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
This 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
A 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 🙂