Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dinner with Friends and Spies

We got together with friends on Saturday night. Les had to work, so the kids and I went over to Beth and Scott’s without him. My son was over the moon since there would be six other boys for him to play with. My daughter? Not so much. Six noisy boys normally would be problematic at an adult dinner, except the boys decided to play spy games. It was a great game for the boys to play while the adults were enjoying appetizers and talking in the living room. The boys ran around the house with their nerf guns trying not to be seen. It was a quiet game with just the pitter-patter of small feet (okay, more like the sound of herding buffalo), but they were having fun.

My contribution to the evening was the Roasted Eggplant Spread by Ina Garten the Barefoot Contessa. I was worried about how the spread would taste since it didn’t have any mayonnaise or sour cream (yeah, I know, but some habits are hard to break). I asked my daughter to test the flavor of the spread for me. She was less than enthusiastic at first, but then I noticed she was digging trenches in the dip. I figured if she liked it, everyone else would like it too.

The spread was good. Roasting the red onion, red pepper and the eggplant gave the spread a savory sweet flavor with some heat right at the end. I will definitely make this again.

Roasted Eggplant Spread
2 medium eggplants, peeled
1 red bell pepper, seeded
1 red onion, peeled
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons good olive oil
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Cut the eggplant, onion and red bell pepper into 1 inch cubes. Spread them on a baking sheet. Toss them with the olive oil, cayenne pepper and the salt and pepper. Roast them for 30 minutes until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft, stirring once. Cool slightly and then put them into a food processor and add the lemon juice and tahini and pulse 3 or 4 times until coursley chopped, and add the parsley.

Dinner was delicious with baked penne and a green salad. The conversation was lively, and my stomach hurt from laughing so much. Our host was itching for a debate, so he argued with me about the dress code at my daughter’s school. He did not like the fact the school doesn't allow the kids to wear denim of any kind. Usually I am ready to spar with him. But, argue about denim? Really? I just couldn’t get into the topic, but I admire him for trying.

Chocolate-Pomegranate Torte
The crowing glory of dinner was the torte Sandy brought. You can find the recipe for the Chocolate-Pomegranate Torte on the cover of Fine Cooking magazine (12/08). Sandy had made the torte once before at Christmas. This time she decided not to make her own jam. She used a purchased a cranberry and cherry blended jam. She said any tart jam should work. It tasted great to me. The cake was dark and rich. The bright tart flavor of the jam and the pomegranate seeds countered the richness. The glaze was silky and rich. The torte was delicious chocolaty goodness!

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