Hors d’oeuvres, the classics

For our food group dinner (theme: Classics with a twist) I chose hors d’oeuvres main course was to be Beef Wellington. I made bacon wrapped dates with hoisin, and stuffed mushrooms (with no twist). I had intended to make a platter of canap├ęs but assembling them at home and transporting them was out of the question and constructing them someone else’s kitchen while they are preparing god knows what seemed unlikely.

Interestingly, hors d’oeuvres literally means “outside of work” or, more accurately, not a part of the work of the meal and yet, unless we’re talking chips and bottled salsa, appetizers are usually way more work than the meal. These stuffed mushrooms were a nightmare to produce.

The bacon wrapped dates, while not exactly as labor intense as the mushrooms, were not a trip to the park either. Both, though, were exquisite. In my opinion.

The meal itself was fabulous.

Butternut squash gnocchi: Food night

Had our quarterly Tastebuds (or is it Taste Buds….I dunno) food group. Theme was Italian and I jumped on the pasta thinking that Rabah, whose turn it was to decide the format, would want to be making the meat. He was too polite to tell me no. He loves to make pasta and so, as it turns out, we had 2 pasta courses. I would love (preferred!) to have made the meat course…meatballs, spedini, porchetta, or the thing my childhood Italian neighbor called “brajole,” I have no idea what it was except a big rolled roast stuffed with cheese and breadcrumbs. The possibilities were endless. Next time I’ll keep my yap shut.

I made butternut squash gnocchi with sage brown butter. It was good. All the food was good. More on that later.


I had a lot of the leftover bean/pasta stuff I made for the Tastebuds food people. And by that I mean they politely choked down a teaspoon of it and I was left with a massive amount to take home. That was fine, I liked it and it came in handy when Carol came over very spur of the moment on Monday night. I dumped a number of cheeses into it including ricotta and covered it with provolone and baked it. It was good but surprisingly the cheese didn’t really enhance it all that much. 

And I forget how freaking stringy provolone is.

Top ten best meals

My nascent food group had its second meeting and it was spectacular. Starting with the trio of fruit salsas (my favorite was grapes, cucumber, green pepper and mint), followed by a stunning white gazpacho. The main course was twice cooked chicken with a sweet/hot relish, an Ottolenghi recipe that is apparently as complicated as it was delicious. The main course was accompanied by the very astounding roasted sweet potatoes and fresh figs, another Ottolenghi recipe. (Sharon clearly has a thing for him). I made a bean and tomato pasta with garlic, olives and sage. It was good but it didn’t really match the rest of the meal. The finish was a stupendous peach pie made with a buttermilk crust and served with bourbon caramel sauce that I would have been comfortable eating with spoon and not sharing with anyone.

The takeaway here is that I’m really going to have to up my game if I want everyone to say, “Oh, yours is the best!!” Which of course I do. Everything is a contest.

Tastebuds. An eating group

Karen had this idea to get some people together who like to cook and eat and have a dinner. She named us Tastebuds and we had our first meal this week. It was at my house and I made the main course. North African themed. I made Kefta sorta. With a side of mechouia.

I had to be careful with this since one of the members of the group happens to be North African. Algerian by way of Paris. In the way I make nothing easy, I made an accompanying spiced tomato sauce which is not really how kefta is eaten but I didn’t care and neither, it seemed, did Raba our resident Algerian. In fact no one complained but that was probably because there was so much great food the kefta didn’t really stand out. Or maybe no one else recognized the faux pas and he was just being polite.