Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Friends That Like to Cook

It’s not often we find others that like to cook as much as we do. So when a coworker mentioned her passion for cooking I immediately suggested getting together to share a meal. We spent weeks hashing out just the right menu and just as much time tracking down the perfect ingredients. Courses were divided up and last minute changes were made; but this past weekend it all paid off. We met at Ann’s for what could best be described as a delicious feast.

John and I were in charge of appetizers and dessert. Ann and John (yes, two John’s) were in charge of the pasta and main course. Chris brought the drinks and intermezzo. We decided early on to do a caponata as one of the appetizers. I had seen an episode of Emeril Green where he did an Oven Roasted Eggplant Caponata and I was dying to try it.

The caponata was a blend of roasted eggplant, tomatoes, and red peppers mixed with kalamata olives, and capers all of which was marinated in a light vinaigrette. Served with some homemade bread it made a tasty appetizer. We also made some cherry tomatoes stuffed with ricotta blended with green olives and chopped garlic. Perfect bite sized treats.

The pasta was simple yet elegant; invoking a feeling of summertime with each bite. Grilled zucchini tossed with chopped fresh mint, just the right amount of ricotta salata and a drizzle of balsamic made it a very light and refreshing dish. This would also work nicely as a main course pasta.

We enjoyed some delicious lime basil sorbet from Sweet Republic in Scottsdale Arizona as our intermezzo.

Ann and John spent a lot of time preparing the Braised Pork Shoulder with Chestnuts, Olives and Herbs adapted from A16 in San Francisco; 3 days to be exact. I can attest that the end product was worth the effort. We were each served a bowl of tender succulent pork meat bathed in its own juices with olives and chestnuts alongside.

Dessert was another recipe from A16; Pistachio and Almond Cake with Orange Salad. I honestly can’t recommend this recipe. Although the end product tasted good there was definitely something wrong with the cooking directions. The recipe calls for 45 minutes in a 300 degree oven. 1 ½ hours later and the cake was still wet inside. Needless to say that by the time it got remotely close to being down the bottom layer had totally burnt.

At this point I was in a complete panic. What am I going to do with a burnt bottom cake? My husband keep telling me not to worry there is nothing that can’t be fixed. So with a huge kitchen knife he removed the bottom layer and really no-one was the wiser.

Everyone agreed the finished product was very good but I’m not sure I would risk trying it again.

All in all the dinner was a success!

***I'm submitting the Penne with Grilled Zucchini Ricotta Salata and Mint to Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Daphne of More Than Words. Stop by to check out the Round-up.


  1. What an ambitious effort! I am one of those wierd people that like burnt, so I wouldn't have minded. Great job....

  2. What fun! It all sounds really delicious! Yup, sounds like temperature instructions were incorrect, but hey, you fixed it! I can't wait till we can finally get some plans worked out... this past month has been crazy!

  3. wow sounds like a fabulous time! everything looks delicious!

  4. What a great meal from start to finish! The caponata sounds really delicious and good save on the cake!

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  6. This sounds like SUCH a great dinner. It's always good to find like-minded and adventurous eaters to share food with. And great save with that cake!

  7. Nicely done! Wish I could find friends that I could share something like this with. Normally it is me cooking the main entree with them bringing a bag of chips and dip.

  8. Friends get-together is real fun;

    everything looks great; even though something seems to be wrong with the cake recipe, I see that everyone appreciated the fun moments you had together!

    this is my first time here and it's nice to see people who love good fine food and who take the time to enjoy it.

    I've got a recipe for Almond/Pistachio cake (tried, tasted and approved of course) in case you might want to try another one.... :)

  9. Everything looks great! A lot of my friends like food, but they prefer eating out to cooking :)

  10. YUM - both the eggplant and the pasta sound soooo delicious!

  11. So if you ever decide to move to San Diego, let me know. I'd be delighted to join in on the fun of creating a terrific meal with other people!

    Love the addition of mint to your pasta. I never thought of that one.

  12. That is quite a feast.

    I WANT that pork.

  13. I love the idea of a "gourmet club", and much nicer to do with just one friend!
    The meal is fabulous, and I love caponata, I add raisins to mine, not sure where I got that from, but I've always made it that way, vinegary and sweet too. Can't get enough of it!

  14. You guys know how to eat! Everything sounds wonderful! I'm interested in those ricotta stuffed tomatoes, are you going to post them? sounds like a great thing for a shower I'm having.

  15. What a fun fun evening! I love the idea of going all-out with friends. The recipes sound amazing. And what a bummer about the dessert - it drives me nuts when I follow directions and it still doesn't work out! Luckily it sounds like it was still yummy.
    It was fun to hear from you at The Sisters' Cafe!

  16. Dinnner looks awesome. I love it when I can find others to cook with. And thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Night.

  17. I had the same problem with the cake. I kept it in the oven for more than two hours and it was still almost raw in the middle. I sliced it after it cooled and re-bakes the slices for another hour before they set. They are finally baked but the freshness of the flavor is gone.