I especially like that Deborah focuses almost as much on chairs as she does on food, since my own folding chairs have frequently made an appearance in her apartment. This very Friday afternoon, I asked her if she still had any of them since some other grad students needed to borrow them. When Deborah told me that she was hosting Shabbat lunch this week because she was blogging, that pretty much made my year. With only 12 (!) unclaimed weeks left in the year, I hope more people are inspired to host, write, and cook!
For me, Shabbat is very much about both the food that you prepare and the people you get to spend Shabbat with. So when I invited people to come to me for lunch this past Shabbat, I started inviting friends somewhat randomly, until I realized that I’d invited more people than I had chairs. Somehow, the balance this time between last-minute cancellations and last-minute RSVPs was perfect—I had no extra chairs, but also no one needed to volunteer to sit on the floor. Of course, the lesson that I take from being worried about chairs while preparing is not to invite fewer people, but to get more chairs.
In regards to food, my one absolute rule is that whenever I have people over for Shabbat, I make challah. My mother wakes up early Friday morning to bake challah—as a grad student, I stay up late Thursday night instead. This Shabbat I made chocolate chip challah, but you can add onions to challah just as easily!
When Miriam was last soliciting bloggers, I’d just received 25 lbs of tomatoes from my CSA (I asked for them, it wasn’t a surprise, I swear!), so I volunteered. But Brian beat me to volunteering, and I suppose Shabbat on a mountaintop beats Shabbat filled with tomatoes. It all works out, though, because this Shabbat I invited my friend Josh, who hates tomatoes, and I think he would have been very hungry if all he’d been able to eat was challah. Nevertheless, I served gazpacho, in honor of the tomatoes, and the most interesting gazpacho recipe I’ve ever received. The recipe is from my friend Andrés, who in turn got it from his mother Amor. The recipe begins with the instruction to follow her directions exactly, without any experimentation, and concludes by saying to use your imagination… It also calls for bread, and suggests that hard-boiled eggs may be included. Amor lives in Spain, so this is definitely an authentic gazpacho recipe—though I will admit I had no idea that gazpacho could have bread in it!
Amor’s Gazpacho Recipe in translation [my comments]
[A warning: this recipe makes a LOT of soup, though it stores quite well in the fridge. It requires two utensils that I didn’t have to start with, and may require inventiveness on your part of you wish to duplicate it]
This is how it goes, don’t experiment
1 kilogram of ripe and juicy tomatoes [2.2 lbs, or between 6 and 9 tomatoes]
1 bell pepper, if it’s red that better, as it gives more color
1 onion, not very big
2 cloves of garlic
oil, vineger and salt
1 loaf of bread [should be a very crusty bread, like a French baguette, all the better if it’s a little stale]
Cut up all the vegetables.
Cover them with good water (not from the tap), and if it’s cold, that’s better. Crush them with a hand-held blender.
Pass them through a Chinese colander [this will be called a chinoise at a kitchen store; it’s a very fine metal sieve in the shape of a cone. The name is a reference to the shape of a type of “Chinese” hat. It may be possible to use cheesecloth instead].
The remaining pulp may be covered in water and the operation repeated in order to get more benefit from the vegetables, until all that is left is pulp, which is discarded.
To the side, we put the bread in fresh water, cut it into small pieces, and add it to the vegetable broth.
Add: 10 tbsp of olive , 10 tbsp vinegar, and 1 tbsp salt
Crush everything with the handheld blender at a low speed, so that it doesn’t splash and it is well-mixed without lumps of oil.
Add oil, vinegar and salt to taste.
Serve with cut up cucumbers, green olives, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs… whatever inspires you!