If my blog were a sitcom, this would be the clips show. Whereas the conceit for Friday night was that everyone else should make their most impressive dish, my plan for Saturday lunch was that I would make the best of from the past year of my own cooking. In reality, lunch turned out to be a combination of that plan plus cooking with phyllo dough, something I’d wanted to do all year and never got around to.
Carrot ginger soup – This actually never made it into the blog, but I made it for myself a few weeks ago and couldn’t get enough, plus, it’s as easy as it gets: saute some chopped onions or shallots in oil and/or butter. Add a pound or so of chopped carrots and saute a while longer. Add 4-6 cups of vegetable broth, bring to a boil and let simmer. When the carrots are tender, turn it off and blend it with an immersion blender (use caution if using a regular blender – learn from my mistakes!). Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or cold.
Cholent masala (an advanced draft) – I really, really wanted to get this right before the blog ended. I wouldn’t say it tasted restaurant grade, or that I could ever recreate exactly what I did, but it had the right consistency, and that in itself was a huge accomplishment. I cooked it on high for about 8 hours, low for another 5, and then kept it on warm all night. I also spiced it right before serving and used a crazy amount of curry and garam masala. And though I couldn’t find kosher-certified tamarind paste or powdered mango, I used a healthy dose of lemon juice, and it really worked.
Sesame noodles – Always good. Always a crowd-pleaser.
Spanikopita – I made spanikopita filling way back last January, and I had phyllo dough in the freezer for pretty much the entire year, but I never managed to put them together. Using up the dough was a blog ending requirement. Turns out there was twice as much in the package as I needed, and it’s still sitting in the fridge. Basically, I made the filling then sandwiched it between two layers each made of five sheets of phyllo dough, which Mattea helped keep damp until I was done brushing the previous layer with olive oil. For sure the texture would have been better right out of the oven (as it was when I tasted that square out of the middle) rather than cold the next day, but that was minor in comparison to my excitement at having conquered the project.
Tzatziki – Goes so well with spanikopita and, thanks to its similarity to raita, with the cholent masala as well. Greek yogurt, lots of minced garlic, chopped cucumber, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Can’t get enough of it.
Skordalia pie – When I g-chatted Alex at 11:00 Thursday night to ask what else should go with the planned menu, I was thinking veggies, something light, certainly not another olive oil-laden phyllo pie. Yet, making something that didn’t require another trip to the store and that would use up more of that pesky dough won out over all of Alex’s well-balanced suggestions. With Mattea and Rebecca, we made a mashed potato, caramelized onion, feta filling and prepared it the same as the spanikopita. And due to my previous success with skordalia, we decided to name it accordingly.
Leftovers – I really had not planned for this when I came up with the menu. There were so many leftovers from Friday that people wanted to keep sharing, that we basically had a whole other course of leftovers. And, thanks to Ariel’s brussels sprouts, it worked out perfectly that I didn’t actually have a vegetable on the menu.
Citrus shortbread cookies – The last time I made this, they were basil citrus cookies as per the actual recipe, but without the basil they went a bit better with the ice cream.
Chocolate orange gelato – My favorite ice cream place back from when I lived in Cambridge, MA had chocolate orange ice cream that I absolutely lusted after all the time. When we got the ice cream maker, I knew I was destined to recreate it. Using the Mexican chocolate base, but with orange extract (added at the end) instead of cinnamon, this is to die for. And, though everyone assumed Marc made it, actually, it was me! I know my way around the ice cream maker well enough…
As soon as people started leaving Friday night, we started resetting the table for Saturday. Marc said, “What if it were 12:30 on Saturday and lunch were about to start? Would we just go for it?” Given how baby-induced sleep deprivation has affected my sense of time, I was like, “yeah, sure, it’s lunch time.” But it wasn’t.
There were only thirteen people for lunch (see this post for more on how I quantify small meals). Since everyone at lunch had been there the night before, I worried that people might be a little sick of each other, so I posed this conversation starter: Marc and I quest for finding the perfect chana masala in restaurants and also to be able to recreate it for ourselves at home. What foods do you quest for? I was glad to hear people’s responses and even gladder that actually no one seemed sick of each other at all and didn’t need me to facilitate conversation.
At the end of lunch, we said birkat (grace after meals); I generally don’t remember to and thought it would be a good way to wrap up this year of meals. Then we went for a baby-nap-inducing walk, which essentially kicked everyone out. Shabbat ended in a couple hours anyway, and everyone had New Year’s Eve plans, so the timing was actually pretty great.
And the food was great. And the company was great. And the year was great.
Stay tuned for another post from me later in the week about transitioning into the next phase of the blog…