Sunday, January 18, 2009
Wicked Classy Dinnah Pahty! And Recipe Odyssey Part the First
I'm thrilled to report that my first attempted dinner party nothing short of...well, a really good time. I don't know if I'd call it a "smashing success;" in fact, I use the term "party" loosely, as there were all of four people present (including myself). But according to hospitality maven/epic hearoine Amy Sedaris, four people do a party make! It's been awhile since I've cooked for someone other than myself and maybe a boyfriend (which, like knitting for a boyfriend, I'm convinced is just plain bad luck), and I was cooking for a discriminating - but loving - crowd, so I was a bit on edge. By which I mean I was frantically dipping into mise-en-place, flinging around around towels, simultaneously operating four burners, and working through a sink full of dishes until mere minutes before the doorbell rang. But the #1 rule of hospitality: YOUR GUESTS SHOULD NEVER KNOW THAT! Spruce yirself up and squeeze a glass of wine into that final hour of cooking. As a hostess or host, it's your job to be effortlessly fabulous.
We did quite, quite well with the food. My dear friend Michael made an charming and delicious crudite featuring HOMEMADE Goddess Dressing! It was tantalizing and visually stunning. His secret (assuming I can share this, Muffin!): blanch the veggies first. Because, as we discussed over our munchies and Prosecco, who really wants to gnaw on raw veggies as an appetizer (ducking the brick that some raw foodist just hurled through my window)? For an entree, I offered up homey plates of one of my blog darlings, Lentil Loaf, alongside Kale and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes (more on that in shake!), served with that vegan country classic, golden gravy. (Did I mentioned I managed to pick the coldest Boston night in years to have this get-together? Ribs needed to be pasted with the heartiest of home-cookin'). Culinary wizard, good friend, and all-around amazing human being Vini Souza made an one of the best desserts I've had in my life: a flourless chocolate and raspberry torte. He said he'll be blogging on it soon, so please, if you love life, check or his post on that. When I have it, I'm all about chocolate for dessert...not a lot of healthful shortcuts for me there.
I had this idea to turn this into a recipe chronicle. I knew I'd have plenty of leftovers, even though I was feeding three boys (and later, one hungry roommate). So I invite you to see where these leftovers take me over the next couple days. Let's start at the beginning:
Kale & Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
3 lbs all-purpose potatoes, like Yukon Gold, peeled and quartered
1/2c-3/4c rice or soy milk
4T soy margarine
1 bunch kale, deribbed and coarsely chopped
6-8 large garlic cloves, peeled
1/4c olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
Place kale in a pot and fill with water (enough to cover the kale). Cover and bring water to a boil and steam the kale for about 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally so all the pieces soften. Drain and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375. In a small baking dish, toss the garlic cloves with the olive oil and throw in a pinch of salt. Bake for about 25 minutes or until tender and browned, remembering to stir occasionally so as not to burn the edges.
While the garlic roasts, place potatoes on a large pot and fill with enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer and cook until easily pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Drain the water from the potatoes and keep in the pot. Mash to potatoes with a potato masher until all the lumps are mashed away
Add the soy margarine and dump in the garlic with the oil and mash again until the garlic is smashed and incorporated evenly throughout the potatoes. Add the rice or soy milk and stir. Start with half a couple; if mixture still seems stiff, add another 1/4c. But remember not to add too much milk, as the potatoes will become soupy. Bear in mind that they will thicken upon standing, and any leftovers will moreso. Stir in the kale, season with salt and pepper, and serve hot. Makes about 8 servings.