impromptu dinner party

My parents were going to be out to dinner and my mom suggested I have a dinner party. This was the night before, so I had less than 24 hours to throw this thing together. It was okay because only one of our friends was in town…so it worked out and I only had to cook for three.

For being a relatively cosmopolitan and epicurean city, it sure is damn hard to find a tub of truffle butter in Dallas. It took me trips to FOUR different stores to find it and several calls, but I trekked through dangerous neighborhoods and spanned dozens of miles in every direction of the city and found it.

I had wanted to make Ina Garten’s Tagliarelle (tagliatelle? which is it? I have heard both?!) With Truffle Butter ever since I saw her make it for Barbara and Bobby Liberman while visiting their Berkshires cabin in her latest holiday special. It just seemed so luxurious–and it is, mothasuckas! Tagliarelle/telle is a delicious new pasta I’ve tried! Light and eggy and such a delicate nice shape. Light pasta but not a light sauce- it is a whole jar of truffle butter and cream. Whatever, we’re young.

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We had a basic arugula salad that I always make (not too worthy of a photograph) and then for dessert, I made something I’ve wanted to make forever- Eton mess. It incorporates raspberries, one of the few fruits I like, and whipped cream and meringues, two things I also really like. Also, why are MERINGUES the most difficult thing to find? Even harder than truffle butter, like damn! I literally couldn’t find these anywhere and had to make them myself! It wasn’t hard but like shit! The point of this dessert was that it is very little cooking and mostly assembling!

Anyway. It was delicious and summery. You cook down the raspberries with sugar and lemon juice and framboise and just layer them all together. It’s really cute and rustic and still really elegant. I loved it even though my sister didn’t. She prefers cake.

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A picture of the homemade meringues, just for fun. They were cute.

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-Sophie

linguine with italian sausage and pomodoro sauce

I CAN’T STOP MAKING PASTA!

I make so much pasta at home, and my sister makes me feel like a Michelin starred pasta chef with how much she praises me for each pasta dish I make. For this quick dinner, I used my favorite Bon Appetit pomodoro sauce recipe and added, of course, Italian sausage. This is a simple and yummy meal that always makes everyone happy.

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-Sophie

sausage risotto with spring greens

I have never tried making risotto before- the real, by hand, stir-this-until-your-hand-falls-off kind of risotto. I make that disclaimer because my dad makes Arborio rice in a rice cooker and calls it risotto (sorry for exposing you like this). This is remarkably unphotogenic and looks basically like gruel, but it was delicious.

I made Bon Appetit’s Sausage Risotto with Spring Greens to use up some sausage and chard that we had in the fridge. It turned out really good and I didn’t even mind the stirring that much while listening to Joanna Newsom’s interview on WTF with Marc Maron.

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Lately, my family has been very obsessed with Trader Joe’s sausage of all varieties. My summer at home so far has been seeing all the things I can put sausage in or on. I’ve had worse summers!

-Sophie

birthday dinner party

My home friends have had plenty of exposure to my ~fabulous~ dinner parties but my college friends have had no such luck! It’s harder here- my kitchen at home is stocked with lots of random stuff that I don’t have to go out and purchase, it has my mom who knows what to do with any given culinary problem, it has a large table and plenty of chairs and small votives and table decorations. I have none of that at college. But 3 of the beautiful gals in my friend group are graduating, it was my 21st birthday, and I wanted to do it with and for them before they leave me!

My apartment does not have a table, which was plaguing me the entire week leading up to the party. I ended up having a stroke of brilliance the day of, taking the table our TV rested on, pushing it next to a side table, then covering it with a beach sarong and then a vintage tablecloth my mom just got me for my birthday. It looked like a perfectly normal and lovely table setting! We sat on the couch, our patio furniture, and my roommate and I’s desk chairs. We do what we can, y’all. We do what we can.

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Along with the normal challenges of a college dinner party, I also had some dietary restrictions to work with! My very good friend Taylor has celiac disease, so this party had to be mostly gluten free (something I have trouble with, clearly). Temi doesn’t like cheese and Cherie is picky about so many things I can’t even keep track. No vegetarians though, thankfully (was that rude? sorry). So I went forth bravely, creating this menu.

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I started with a favorite, Ina Garten’s Warm Goat Cheese Salad. I made this for my first ever dinner party (this is a picture from then!) and it is a favorite! This was my only non-gluten free dish, which I only realized the day of the party. I improvised and garnished Taylor’s salad with some pecans so she could have a little bit of interest. Everyone else loved the salad, even my girls who don’t like cheese (?!?!?!). Some people had never even had goat cheese before!

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Next up was the dish I was most excited to both eat and make- dijon and cognac beef stew from Smitten Kitchen. This seemed so rich, comforting, and flavorful, and I couldn’t wait to make it. It didn’t disappoint, and I only wish my stew-loving little sister was there to eat it with us. I served this family style out of my Le Creuset and it was very homey and nice. Everybody loved this! I served it with some baguettes to soak up that lovely sauce. Buying the bottle of cognac was my first legal alcohol purchase at an actual liquor store, and the guy was real confused as to why this was my choice.

Liquor store owner: You like cognac?

Me: I’m actually making a soup.

Liquor store owner: Wow! Gonna be good soup.

Me: Really good soup. 

And it was.

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Dessert was chocolate mousse with homemade whipped cream, with the recipe from Smitten Kitchen as well! Who doesn’t love this? This is one gluten-free dessert where I don’t even find myself missing the gluten. I made this the day before the party to save myself some time. I used some wonderful Lindt bittersweet chocolate in this, and it really makes all the difference.

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It was a really lovely night with my friends. I’m glad they got to enjoy a home cooked meal and I’m glad they got to taste my cooking! This is something I really love to do, and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my birthday.

-Sophie

P.S. Thank you to Taywad for the pictures!

 

mejadra

I’ve wanted to make mejadra from the Jerusalem cookbook for a while now, mainly because I am passionate about onions in all of their many forms, but especially fried. I took a few liberties with the amount and variety of spices involved in this dish because I am NOT rolling in spice money, but it still turned out delicious. Mejadra is a traditional Arab comfort food dish consisting of rice, lentils, spices, and fried onions.

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I used basmati rice which is always a good call, as well as green lentils. I didn’t quite follow  the instructions and basically cooked all the components separately, then sauteed them together in the skillet. It turned out delicious and saved me a bit of time. I also eyeballed most of the measurements since I am not good at translating a six person recipe to a one person recipe. Anyway. I would recommend this and will make it again. Comfort food from other cultures is healthy, right?!?!

-Sophie

 

mustard milanese with arugula salad

It’s been a while! March was busy, and included a trip to West Texas with some memorable food moments in between. A total of perhaps nine restaurants in Marfa led to some questionable choices, but a fried egg and sauteed onion-graced cheeseburger eaten in a 58-person ghost town was also among the best burgers I have ever had.

With every new Smitten Kitchen recipe I try, my heart grows fonder and fonder of Deb. This mustard milanese, likely the classiest fried chicken dish I’ll have in my life, just rocked my world on this Monday evening. Never in my life would I have thought I would get full from a half of a boneless, skinless chicken breast. But panko bread crumbs combined with lots of oil can do amazing things.

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-Sophie

lemony leek meatballs

Sami Tomimi and Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook “Jerusalem” is a smash hit, and rightfully deserved. The book is full of the brightest, most beautiful photographs of the colorful food of Israel. I have a list of dishes I want to make from it, but this was the first one I attempted– primarily, it used ingredients available at Trader Joe’s (no need to drive far and wide looking for a particular spice that would make or break a dish) and secondly, because it sounded delicious.

I first started to love leeks over the summer, when I first tried the leek quiche at the bakery I work at. When my stomach rumbled during my seven hour shift and I couldn’t bring myself to eat another croissant (the only way this sentence is not blasphemous is if you ate the amount of croissants I did), I would stealthily go for the leek quiche. It’s an insanely delicious quiche. But that’s another story.

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These meatballs are quite the lengthy production, but they made for a pleasant Saturday project in my kitchen. They are a bright and citrusy version of an old favorite- more leek than meat, actually. I’ve stowed the whole batch in my freezer and will whip it out to make more of these naan meatball subs- garlic naan (thanks Trader Joe’s), plain Greek yogurt, parsley garnish. Yum.

-Sophie