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Supper Club – Mexican

28 Oct

We all LOVE mexican food. I mean, who doesnt!??!?! So I was the lucky one to draw “mexican” from the theme bowl in supper club. The only problem? There are soooooooooooooooo many different possibilities for mexican food – tacos, burritos, tamales, flautas, traditional dinner, etc etc. I used Rick Bayless’s cookbook and a special edition of Cooks Illustrated magazine that focused solely on mexican dishes.

We had our first guest for Supper Club – our friend Beth was in from Cali for the weekend for some Supper Club and Haunted Mountain action. So this added to the excitement and deliciousness.

I decided to go very simple for appetizers, since my research revealed that mexicans dont really do “appetizers”. I think Americans have glorified what we think their apps could be……but they arent. I made a “medium” and a “spicy” Rustic Roasted Salsa from Rick Bayless. I also paired a simple, but tasty, salsa with a fresh guacamole.

After everyone had enough chips and salsa/guac, we decided to sit down for dinner……

I decided to go big and make Chicken Mole. For years I’ve only heard about how HARD mole is to make and how much time it takes. So I was nervous about it……I have to tell you that it was super super easy. I kept saying “I cant believe how easy this is” as I made it. It was so delicious, too. I dont think I’ve ever had a better mole in my life.

I decided to make something typically “american-mexican” and went with Beef Enchiladas! The beef mixture was simple and awesome and simmered for almost 2 hours so it was tender. And I even made my own flour tortillas to wrap them in. I bought store-bought tortillas in case mine didnt turn out, but they were easy to make and came together quickly. I think they also made a huge difference in the texture of the whole dish. I will always make my own flour tortillas in the future.

I also had a fresh salad with lime-cilantro vinaigrette. Here’s a shot of the dinner table as a whole.

And then came dessert…..I knew I wanted to make a Flan because that is very traditional. But I was nervous about flan because I’ve never made anything like it before. However, it turned out amazing. I had to make an emergency call to my mom (the master chef) to get advice on making the caramel top after the 3rd attempt, but other than that, it came out perfect!

Pulling the pan from the flan….perfection!

Just to play it safe since I was worried about the flan, I also made Mexican Wedding Cookies as a backup. They were flaky and melted in our mouths.

After dinner, we continued to celebrate Beth being able to join our group for the weekend, and then we took a trip down the road to Spring Mountain’s Haunted Mountain for a night of screams and frights 🙂

Our mexican feast kicked butt…..cant wait til next month at John’s for Francais!

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Supper Club – Thai!

16 Sep

Whew – what a week….Sorry I’ve been absent for a while. Work has been occupying my time. Anyway, Last weekend was John and Jeff’s turn to host Supper Club – THAI FOOD! I absolutely LOVE thai food so I was definitely excited.

We walked in the door to some authentic thai music and a slideshow of travel pics from Thailand (google does wonders!) on the tv. And out came the appetizers.

They were delicious! The first one was Satay Chicken – minus the sticks and long pieces of chicken. It was served with a peanut sauce that was to die for. We couldn’t get enough of the peanut chicken. I snagged the recipe so I could make at some point in the near future.

He also served us the most amazingly fresh and delicate thai basil shrimp spring rolls with a peanut-hoisin sauce. Look at how fresh they look. I think these were the unsung dish of the night – John really outdid himself.

We had to let our apps digest a bit before starting on dinner. So we enjoyed the Thai Picture Slideshow. Pretty soon, dinner was served!

We had Asian BBQ steak that had a marinade made of sriracha and fish sauce (amongst other flavors) that was absolutely delicious. It was the perfect amount of spiciness.

We also had Pad Kee Mao – which translates to “drunken stir fry” with pork. It was delicious and full of delicate thai flavors like basil and spicy pepper.

And on the side, John made a delicious cucumber salad with cilantro and jalapeno and rice wine vinegar. It was so refreshing and yet so simple. I really really enjoyed it!

Since John bought a 200-pack of chopsticks, we felt compelled to at least try using them. Even though we are all TERRIBLE at using chopsticks 🙂

After we completely stuffed ourselves and took turns picking random 80s and 90s songs to play on YouTube, dessert was served. Or so I thought…

Jeff put out this little plate of 4 interesting-looking cookies or pastries or something. We didn’t know what to make of it but we tried one! It was weird. It was supposed to be a mango thing. But the texture was so bizarre and the taste was lacking. Then we found out that it was a joke – John bought them for Jeff and they knew they were weird!

Then, of course we had to play with them a bit…..

So then Jeff went to assemble our real dessert – fried bananas with coconut ice cream. It was not only visually stunning, it tasted AWESOME!!! It was the perfect way to end a delicious dinner.

Here is a closeup – delicious and crispy on the outside, soft and sweet in the middle. That’s what she said!

And afterwards we relaxed, as you can tell by these shots of Austin….

Hahahahahahaha well done boys! It was an awesome night of food and laughs. Next month: Mexican at my house!

Supper Club – Summer Picnic!

5 Aug

This month’s Supper Club theme was “Summer Picnic” and it was my turn to host. We decided that it would be best to have the physical dinner at my parent’s house so we can have a pool day and also really set the stage for a summer picnic.

Me and Jeff enjoying the pool

Jeff chillin on the patio

We all got to the house early in the day and quickly got ourselves into the pool since it was a 96 degree sunny day. Much later on, my brother Chris and his wife Pam came over to join us! We were many Sweet Tea Vodka Lemonade’s in at that point, so dinner was quite late. Thankfully there was minimal prep – I was able to prepare everything the night before and that morning.

I thought long and hard about my menu. I wanted something fun, but light and fresh…..I also wanted to showcase some family recipes (found in our family cookbook). I was able to combine everything and come up with an awesome meal.

Early in the day we grilled up some quesadillas (AKA “dillas”). These are a fun snack that my brother and sisterinlaw, Pat and Julie, bring to summer pooldays. They are great because they taste super fresh, are customizably spicy, and they go on the grill. Who doesnt love dillas??

Dillas on the grill

We started off the meal with Watermelon Gazpacho. My friend, Shannon, made this for our girls night last month. It was SO refreshing and tasty….I dont have to mention how fresh it is. It is so easy to make, too! Everyone remarked at how different and delicious it was. The crumble of feta on top totally pulls all the flavors together.

Watermelon Gazpacho with Feta Crumble

The main course consisted of: Patio Picnic Burgers, Jerry’s Baked Beans, and Heirloom Tomato Pie.

What are “Patio Picnic Burgers”? They are an old old family recipe that our family has been crazy about for years. It was always a special treat to have them in the summer. I remember having them for my 8th grade graduation party and my mom took a pic of me eating one mid-bite…..attractive.

Before being baked together

But what IS it, you ask? It’s not a burger, per se. Essentially, it’s ground beef sauteed with a few ingredients, then mixed with pickles, tomatoes, and cheese and scooped into a roll and then baked in the oven. Robbbb said it was sort of similar to how a cheesesteak tastes, in a way. I dont know that I agree – but I cant really explain it any other way. You just have to try them.

Finished Patio Picnic Burger

Jerry’s Baked Beans are also a family treat. I believe he got the recipe from his ex-wife (shhhh!) and he’s been making it ever since. They are delicious – the perfect amout of sweet and salty. Everyone loves them.

Beans, beans…..you fill in the rest

My Heirloom Tomato Pie…..I dont know where to start with this masterpiece of a recipe that I pulled out of Food Network Magazine last summer. I made it last summer for a family get-together on a poolday and everyone raved about it. This time I used all heirloom and regular tomatoes from my garden and also from my friends at Skippack Creek Farm (best tasting tomatoes ever). There is manchego cheese, herbs, tomato, and cornmeal crust…..need I say more?

Beautiful…..just beautiful

Slice of Tomato Pie

For dessert, I did another old family favorite: Ice Cream Pie! It’s just as simple as it sounds. It doesnt matter though – everyone always loves it!

Ice cream pie

Slice of ice cream

To accompany the meal, I made my friend Alex’s Sangria. He swore to me that it’s the best homemade sangria around and I think he might be right. It was the bomb. Literally.

Down one, one to go

John took a shower with his sangria

As always…..I will be posting recipes for everything shortly. And now it’s John’s turn for Thai next month!

Supper Club – Indian Night

22 Jul

Last night was time for our second Supper Club! This time it was John’s turn to host and cook. The theme was INDIAN! I love Indian food…..but the best part is that John had never had Indian food until a week ago. He realized he had better get out and try some before he cooks it so he knows what it should taste like 🙂

I have to say, for someone who had never really tried it before, he did an AWESOME job making everything taste amazing and authentic.

We started with Lemon Hummus with Mango Chutney. This was flat-out delicious. We couldnt stop eating it.

Then we cruised on to some Naan and Mulligatawny. This soup was off the HOOK. Perfect amount of spices and flavor. I could have eaten a vat of it….but I wanted to save room for the rest of dinner.

Then comes the main course: Chicken Tikki Masala! This stuff was so good. John even made his own cheese (tofu-like consistency) that was included in the dish. So impressive!!!!!! And once again, this dish had a fabulous proportion of spices and flavors. It was completely awesome.

And then came dessert! Jeff made Gulab Jamun for dessert and I give him mad credit. I have heard of this dish before – but had never tried it. Indians arent really known for their desserts. He explained how he made it – it sounded so interesting. It had a great cardamom flavor and the sauce on top was delicious.

Gulab Jamun

We had a super fun night. We ended up watching some hysterical Real Housewives music videos and parodies of said music videos. And then played scattegories for a couple hours.

Indian night wasnt the typical curry and rice meal that one might expect. John really went above and beyond and we had a blast. Even Austin got in on the fun!!!!

Looking forward to next Supper Club Night at my place……!

Supper Club – Greek Night

13 May

My BFF John and I love to cook. We are both always trying new recipes and talking about our recent culinary adventures. So in March, John came up with the idea to form a Supper Club. For now it’s just the 4 of us (John/Jeff and Me/Robb), but there is potential to add others and include guests from time to time. We both researched Supper Clubs online and looked at different rules and technical aspects of other people’s Supper Clubs and we took a couple tips from other clubs and formulated our own rules and standards.

Essentially, you have to be able to cook like a mofo and WANT to cook like a mofo once every other month. You have to want to challenge yourself. And you have to be prepared to buy top ingredients and cook everything on your night. The host prepares everything on their turn and the guests are able to just show up!

We sat down in April and wrote out a bunch of themes (greek, indian, mexican, finger foods, old classics, etc) and tossed them in a hat. Then we took turns picking themes and organized the remainder of the year so we know what we are cooking throughout 2012. We wanted to challenge ourselves and choose themes that are out of our comfort zone or realm of skill.

I was up first with GREEK night! I knew NOTHING about Greek food really…..so I enlisted my parents to take me to their favorite Greek Restaurant (Yianni’s Taverna) so I could study up! Once I tasted the food there (their food is DELICIOUS), I solidified my menu and developed my plan. OPA!

My menu:

 Appetizers

  • Beef Patties with Mint
  • Tzatziki Sauce
  • Homemade Pita Bread
  • Melitzanosalata (eggplant dip)

Main Course

  • Moussaka
  • Lamb Souvlaki with Tzatziki Sauce
  • Roasted Potatoes

Dessert

  • Baklava

Appetizer Spread

Greek Wine

Dinner Spread

Moussaka

Lamb Souvlaki

Baklava…delicious!

I started prepping my meal on Thursday night. Then I cooked by butt off on Friday night and all day Saturday (except to take a 2-hour break for water aerobics). It was exhausting but so well worth it. The food turned out FABULOUS and we were stuffed before the meal was even over. And now I am not afraid to make Baklava (phyllo dough was easy!) and I learned that moussaka was a bit more involved than I thought it would be.

I will post a couple of the recipes in the coming weeks so everyone can try making greek food for yourselves. I’ll update my blog each time we have Supper Club – even if I am not cooking –so everyone can see what we both come up with!

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