Make your own Shabbat

Even though Susan and I don’t work together anymore, she continues to be a great friend, a wonderful resource, and a really helpful g-chat buddy.  Her dinner sounds super yummy and fun, plus she stepped in at the last minute to make sure there was a blog this week!  Speaking of which, please help make sure there are blogs in the weeks to come, and sign up here. 

I used to lament not being an artistic type– until I realized that I express my creativity through cooking, especially for other people.   I feel like a dinner party is my little version of a gallery opening or a sculptural unveiling.  I have a great time envisioning, cooking, and serving the meal, and then revel in other peoples’ enjoyment of it.

So… When my boyfriend, Cody, suggested that we make our Shabbat dinner a “Make Your Own Pizza Night,” I was pretty apprehensive.

Cody lives at Moishe House Philadelphia with three other people.  It is a great house, both community-wise and space-wise.  With four housemates, it’s pretty rare that Cody gets the house to himself.  The others were going out of town this weekend, so we thought it would be a great chance to host our own Shabbat dinner there.  “Make Your Own Pizza Night” was not exactly what I had in mind, but he was so excited about the idea that I decided to go along with it.

As it turns out, it was really fun, and really tasty!  We made two kinds of dough– whole wheat and garlic herb— and portioned them out into individual sizes.  We chopped up all kinds of toppings… tomatoes, basil, olives, pineapple, jalapenos, etc.  To make it easier, we (gasp) had storebought marinara sauce and pesto.  We pre-baked the dough, so once people put their toppings on they went on aluminum foil in the oven for about 15 minutes.

While they baked, people ate the two salads we made– a mushroom salad (recipe below– seriously, try it even if you hate mushrooms like I do) and a St. Louis (my hometown) staple, Pasta House Salad.  For dessert, Cody made really tasty chocolate chip cookies, and Laurel made amazing date coconut bites that she paired with local SNAP liquor.  Keep your eye out for bites like this at Cafe Olam Philly!

3 big lessons come from this Shabbat:
1) Sometimes boyfriends have excellent ideas that are worth following.
2) It’s actually really nice to end a dinner party not feeling completely exhausted from a full day of cooking.
and
3) As much as I love expressing my own creativity through cooking, it’s pretty neat to empower other people to do the same thing, and then to watch their reactions when they take their first bite!

Mushroom Salad-– adapted from a recipe by Katie Cavuto Boyle

I absolutely hate mushrooms– but this salad is an exception… It’s magic.  And a great potluck dish because it is really quick to throw together! (If you’re making it ahead of time, don’t toss it with the dressing or put the cheese on top until right before you serve it.) [Miriam’s note: When Susan brought this to the blogstravaganza part 1, I was “a bad host by refusing to try it,” but I’m glad it makes her so happy!]
  • 1 pound regular old button mushrooms– trimmed, cleaned, and thinly sliced (I always get the presliced ones)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano (must be fresh!)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 oz piece of parmesan cheese

In a medium salad bowl, mix together the mushrooms, parsley, and oregano. In a small bowl, whisk together the Dijon, oil, and lemon juice until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the oil mixture to the salad bowl and toss until all ingredients are coated. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan on top and serve.

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