Sunday, September 12, 2010

Co-dinner party!

This is how it happened. My friend Saqib and I hadn't seen each other in a while, so we set a date for a weeknight dinner to catch up. I veered us the way of home cooking instead of going out, and he veered us the way of his apartment instead of mine. So far, so normal.
Oh, and this was last week, so a recent event, with beautifully gentle summer weather. Also coinciding with the night before Eid.
My friend Lisa had recently mentioned getting together to catch up as well, s I cleared a few other guests with Saqib, since tetes-a-tetes can be good, but more people can make it lively, and that was all right, so we each invited a couple more. Ok, I invited 4, but there was an attrition rate of 50%, so that was fine. Saqib invited Nora and Michael, again with an attrition rate of 50%. Still good.
Our very full, very provided-for plates
But it turns out both Saqib and I have latent (or maybe obvious) tendencies to Provide, i.e. we cooked food for 8, expecting 6, and in the event having 4. Ah, the beauty of leftovers... :-)
So here is what we made:
Buttermilk Barley Salad, adapted from 101 Cookbooks' Buttermilk Farro Salad (when farro is $10 for a half a pound, I substitute. I still have not tasted it!) I made some of her substitutions mentioned in this post, and also a few more: no zucchini, but cucumbers, and red onion, yes. And on the buttermilk ranch dressing, without going out for fresh herbs, I used dried thyme and dried dill, in small quantities, since it was enough to give the taste. Yum.
Eggplant with basil, Thai-style. This was Saqib's creation, and so I don't have a link, but it seemed pretty easy - except for the sheer amount of chopping involved and the timing and quantities for sauces added- that looked a bit tricky. Came out very well though, with a hint of kick, but not too much for this wimp. :-)
Soy-glazed sweet potatoes, here. Also pretty easy, although mine cooked up soft and creamy instead of crispy as I expected. And I wouldn't recommend doing the basting thing, since it led to a sticky, baked-on kind of syrup to clean up. I'd just go for it as a dressing next time, since I don't think it added much to do it in the oven. Very good though.
And now for the piece de resistance! Well, not really. In fact, it was absolutely the opposite. I sliced up the peaches, leaving the skins on. I put them in a pan they just fit in, so there wasn't a lot of room to coat and toss with sugar and flour. I forgot to add the spices I had brought: ginger and pumpkin pie spice (for the cardamom), so the latter went on after the topping. The topping itself (an adapted crisp) was casually scaled down (meaning I did not really do any conversions, just slapped some sugar (brown and white), flour, melted butter, and the chopped toasted pecans together) and stirred a bit before pressing on top of the peaches. Here is the inspiration (love this blog) for my version above, and I will say, I got no complaints!

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