Tag Archives: dinner with friends

saturday night dinner party

15 Jun

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On Saturday night Brian and I had my best girlfriend Taline and her 11 month old son Liam over for dinner. The last time we had Liam over he was a teeny tiny little babe. He didn’t do much other than look cute. Cut to now…he’s a super mobile (he gave Frank a run for his money), giggly & fun little guy. Having him at the dinner table like one of the adults cracked me up. When planning the menu for the evening I tried to accommodate everyone. I’m new at cooking for a baby thing- what can they eat at 11 months??? I settled on a pasta dish & a peach crisp for dessert ( I figured both could be modified for Liam to eat). Definitely not the healthiest of dinners (helllllo carbs!) but it’s all fun and games until your jeans don’t fit, right?

Of course Brian helped me put the meal together. I swear no matter what I do he will always be a better cook than me. It’s ok I guess…I think I might like baking better anyway. I’ll let him be the cook in the family and I’ll handle the desserts. I mean who doesn’t want to be in charge of the desserts, right? I’ve been wanting to make a crisp/crumble type thing for a while now. They always look so damn good to me when I scroll through pinterest. I’ve also been wanting to make something with peaches because nothing says summer to me like a dessert with peaches.

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I couldn’t help but laugh at the last picture. Dinner parties sure do look different in your thirties! In the best possible way too. As I looked around the table my heart-felt incredibly full.

Below you will find the two recipes…

spaghetti all’ amatriciana 

* ingredients

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces pancetta (thick cut), diced
1 small white onion, finely diced
3 large garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes*
1 (28-ounce) can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes
3/4 ounce parmigiano-reggiano cheese, finely grated (plus more for serving)
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 lb dried spaghetti pasta
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

* directions

-Heat the olive oil in a large (straight-sided, preferably) skillet over medium heat. Add the diced pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the fat has rendered into the pan and the pancetta is crispy and caramelized slightly. Using a slotted spoon, remove the crispy pancetta and place in a separate small bowl, leaving any fat behind in the pan.
-Over medium-low heat, add the diced onion and saute in the rendered fat for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and lightly caramelized. Add the garlic and continue to saute for an addition 2 to 3 minutes, being careful to avoid burning the garlic or onion. Deglaze the pan with a tablespoon of water, if necessary, to remove any bits of crispy pancetta or bits from the bottom of the pan.
-Add the tomato paste and red pepper flakes, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat for an addition 1 to 2 minutes, or until the paste has thickened slightly.
-Add the pancetta, and any extra rendered fat, back into the skillet, along with the crushed tomatoes. Bring the sauce to a low simmer, and cook, stirring every few minutes, for 15 to 20 minutes. The sauce should be relatively thick. Add the grated cheese to the sauce, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place over low heat while you cook the pasta.
-Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water in a measuring cup, and then drain the pasta. Return the drained pasta back into the pot, toss with a tablespoon of unsalted butter, and add the sauce, thinning with pasta cooking water as necessary until the pasta is evenly coated. Serve pasta with extra grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese on the side.

pasta

peach crisp with gingersnap crumble topping 

* ingredients

Filling
6 cups sliced peaches (peeled and sliced into ½ inch pieces)
¾ cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 teaspoons cornstarch
Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup brown sugar (packed)
16 gingersnap cookies ((or 4 oz); crushed)
⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup butter (melted)

* directions

-Pre heat oven to 375 F.
-Mix peaches, ¾ cup sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch in a 9 X 9 inch pan.
-In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugars, crushed gingersnaps, ginger, and melted butter. Spread evenly over peach filling.
-Bake for 40-50 minutes, until topping is golden and filling bubbles. You may need to cover with foil at around 30 minutes to prevent topping from overcooking.

peach crisp

*

227

23 Nov

LEARN HOW TO COOK

 Teacher: My lively friend Alex, whom I have known since kindergarten! She is also the woman I give credit to for putting Brian and I together so it’s an understatement to say I love her. She is a big personality filled with laughter, joy and love. Maybe it’s because she lived in Italy for the past 7 years! That would make anyone joyful right? She recently moved back to the states with her Italian boyfriend Alessandro and I thought what better person to teach me Italian dishes.

Location: Alex’s kitchen

Dish : Pizza party

Alex has been talking about her pizzas for months now and I have been chomping at the bits to learn her secrets. I happen to be a huge pizza fan but had yet to make a pizza from scratch. I’m here to tell you it’s quite a process and as we all know I am not a fan of working with dough. It’s just so finicky and hard to please! But, the final product was worth the time. Alex is a great teacher. She kept cheering me on and telling me how great I was doing, despite the fact my dough was falling apart and my pizza looked like an egg instead of a circle. She kinda reminds me of an Italian grandmother in the kitchen! She’s so good you would think she’s been making pizzas in Rome for the last 40 years.

It was a great way to spend a rainy afternoon and I feel beyond grateful to know a 29-year-old Italian grandmother to teach me the art of pizza! Thank you Alex and Alessandro for opening your home to us! I happen to think you guys are the cutest couple in the world…not to mention the most hospitable hosts in the world.

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ALEX’S PIZZA RECIPE COMING TONIGHT!!

242

8 Nov

LEARN TO COOK

Oh look everybody…I handled raw chicken again! As you can see from the pictures above, I have totally moved past my aversion to it.  I look like quite the pro, don’t I?

Welcome to the worst roast chicken meal ever. I would say it was a slight setback in my cooking career but have decided not to get discouraged by one meal. So what that Brian got a bit sick from it…no big deal right?

My friend Rachel and I decided it would be fun to make dinner for our guys last Friday night. The weather in LA has been getting chillier and we thought it would be a cozy way for us all to hang out. When we were brainstorming meal options I came up with the brilliant idea that we should roast a whole chicken. I have never attempted this before but I thought it sounded easy enough and I have always loved the way a whole chicken looked finished on a plate. Obviously the most important part of the meal right? So we googled roast chicken recipes and found one we really liked. Problem was it happened to be called “Engagement Chicken”. Supposedly if you make this chicken for your significant other he will be so impressed by it and you that he will be inspired to propose. So ridiculous, we thought, but we liked the recipe so we decided to keep the name to ourselves and make it anyways. We didn’t want the boys to get the wrong idea about what we had up our sleeves for a simple Friday night dinner!

In my defense, I thought we followed the recipe perfectly. In retrospect maybe we didn’t account for different oven temperatures? Who knows. All I know is that we followed that recipe! I am not lying. It also looked perfectly done (in a candlelit room) when we pulled it out of the oven.

I think we all know where this story goes. It wasn’t good. Actually, it was horrible. I think we may have served slightly undercooked chicken to our loved ones. I guess we could have killed them. We didn’t though! Thank God…because that would have screwed up my vision  for this blog.

I doubt I will be given the opportunity to roast a chicken for guests anytime soon. Oh, and if I was looking for an engagement ring out of this meal I doubt I inspired him to buy me one.

HA

246

4 Nov

Happy Friday everyone! I don’t know about you but I am thrilled it’s the weekend. Tonight Brian and I are having dinner with our friends Rachel and PJ. I think Rachel and I are going to attempt to make a stir fry for dinner but this has yet to be confirmed. No matter what we decide to cook I will be posting pictures and a recipe of course! Let’s see what else do I want to update you guys on. Oh! I have my last French class tomorrow. Sadly, I don’t speak French yet. Although I can order an omelette in French.  Progress right? I think I will need to find another class. I still have 246 days dammit! Actually, maybe I should take private lessons? I may need one on one attention on this matter. I had no idea learning French was going to be one of the hardest goals to tackle. You know what I wish? I wish I could go live in France for a month. I bet I would learn French then! Wouldn’t that be lovely…365 til 30 from Paris. Oui! Oui!