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!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Quick Take Tuesday

Bon Appétit – January 2009

BA Foodist – “What cookbooks do you consider best?”
BA Foodist Andrew Knowlton answers the question above with The Good Cook Series from Time Life books published between 1979-1985. He recommends the cookbooks not only for their detailed photos and cooking methods, but also for their recipes from out-of-print books and famous author/chefs. These cookbooks are out-of-print, but I looked online, and most titles are available on EBay and Amazon. I don’t know where I would put a collection of 24 books, but I’m a sucker for cookbooks. Maybe I can check them out from the library!

Cooking Life
Molly Wizenberg from Cooking Life in Bon Appétit and her blog Orangette could make braised rocks with a side of gravel sound delicious, and she does it again with her recipe for pate. I can’t say that I’m a big fan of either meatloaf or pate, but I am going to try her recipe Pate de Champagne. Hmm…now I just need to find a reason to make 20 servings of pate. Pate anyone?

Ricotta Cheese
Bon Appétit shares New York Chef Andrew Carmellini’s method for making fresh ricotta cheese, and his recipes using the cheese. I need to go buy cheesecloth. I must try this recipe and the Fig and Onion Bruschetta you make with the fresh ricotta. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Both Bon Appétit (1/09) and Food & Wine (1/09) have recipes for pasta dishes with eggs on top. I think I’ll try BA’s Fettuccine Carbonara with Fried Eggs. The recipe has pancetta and broccoli rabe and sounds great for a weeknight meal. It is the cover recipe, and looks like a comfort food meal.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Game Night

I love Friday nights. Friday night is the beginning of what could be a wonderful weekend. Friday nights are made for something fun! Our new Friday night tradition was started when my husband (the fun parent) started working nights and weekends. How were the kids (my eight-year-old son and my fourteen-year-old daughter) and I going to celebrate my favorite night of the week? Game night, we decided, was the way we were going to celebrate Friday nights.

And, pizza was the perfect food for our new tradition. Pepperoni pizza works for my son and daughter, but I wanted something different. White Pizza from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten was exactly what I wanted. I made pizza dough in my bread machine on Thursday night. The pizza dough was more pliable and easier to shape when I made it the night before and put it in the refrigerator overnight. My daughter helped me stretch and shape the pizza dough. While I was making the toppings for my pizza, my daughter decided she would like to try the White Pizza. I wasn't sure she would enjoy a bunch of arugula on her pizza, but I was happy she wanted to try. We sat down to eat our pizza and my daughter proclaimed the White Pizza amazing. Wow, she liked a pizza with feta cheese and arugula. In that moment, I realized my daughter was a foodie.

Bread Machine Pizza Dough
This recipe came in the instructions for my bread machine, and it makes a 2lb. loaf.
1 3/8 Cups Water
4 Cups Bread Flour
2 Tbsp. Dry Milk
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1 ¾ tsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 ¾ tsp. Active Dry Yeast

Place ingredients in bread machine in the order they appear, making a well in the flour and place the yeast in the well. Follow the directions for your bread machine for dough. When the dough had finished its cycle in the bread machine, remove the dough and place it in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30 minutes. Once it has risen, take it out and cut into equal portions. Form the portions into balls, and let rest for 15 minutes. At this point I put the dough into the refrigerator overnight. Shape pizza dough, top and cook at 400° for 15 to 20 minutes.

White Pizza with Arugula
This recipe came from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten with a few changes.

Pizza Dough (see my recipe above)
½ cup olive oil
4 Garlic Cloves, sliced
5 sprigs fresh thyme
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups grated Fontina cheese
1 ½ cups grated mozzarella
11 oz. Feta cheese

For the Arugula Salad
½ cup good olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
8oz. baby arugula

To make the garlic oil, place ½ cup of olive oil, garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and let steep for 10 minutes making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Let cool slightly.

Brush pizza dough with the garlic oil and top with the cheeses. Bake the pizzas in a 400° for 10 to 15 minutes until the crust is crisp and the cheese begins to brown.

In the meantime, whisk together ½ cup of the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Once the pizza is out of the oven, top with the arugula, and serve immediately.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Welcome to my new blog. I started Have Recipes - Will Cook to share recipes and entertainment ideas with family and friends. I am a home cook with a passion for food and a love of entertaining. I have a huge collection of recipes I have torn out of magazines, have had passed to me from friends and from cookbooks (I love cookbooks). And, my collection seems to be growing daily.

My goal is to work my way through the most interesting and yummy looking recipes in my collection, and explore how to use these recipes for dinners and parties. I will share the good the bad and the yucky results with you. (Not too many yucky results I hope!)

I want to inspire and be inspired by this new (to me) medium of blogs and blogging. I am very new to blogging, but I hope to catch on quickly.

Happy cooking!



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