Sunday, April 25, 2010
Friday Night In
Jason and Melissa are friends we've made in our building, and after spending a few nights together heading out and about for food and drinks, we decided to have a night in. We thought we'd play games- I'd make some food to munch on and they would bring the drinks.
Well, games never happened, which is not surprising considering the strength of Jason's cocktails and the fact that the four of us don't shut up long enough to actually get out a game to play. Five hours into our evening we realized it actually just felt like half that time. This is a nice discovery to make with new friends.
Jason made two different cocktails. One was called a Transfusion and was 1 part vodka, 1 part grape juice, and 1 part ginger ale. It was fantastic. On the second round, we used a little soda water to lighten the grape juice flavor. The other drink (in picture) was 2 parts Absolute Acai, a touch of simple syrup and lemon juice, and topped with blueberries and mint. It packed quite a punch as you might imagine.
Dinner was on me. Initially, I was just going to make some heavy snacks, but pizza was calling since JB's recent post. I made the dough from Tyler Florence's recipe this time. I will use it again. The only change I made was using a lot more evoo- that tip being from Amber- she says you can't use too much, so I was generous throughout the entire process. The crust was crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle- perfect. It was also much thinner than the crust I made on my last attempt and this is an improvement in my book.
For the tomato sauce, I used a can of tomato paste, a few glugs of evoo, water, oregano, fennel, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flake, and two garlic cloves that I grated with my microplane. I made it in the morning and gave it all day to sit on the counter and blend and blend it did- quite nicely in fact.
I roasted broccoli, zucchini, squash, asparagus, a red, yellow, and orange bell pepper, a head of garlic cloves, and a red onion. I just chopped them all into big pieces, coated with evoo, and roasted them on 425 til they were golden sweet delicious. After allowing them to cool a bit, I prepared them to top the pizza by giving them a really good coarse chop.
I layered the sauce, veggies, and- STOP. WHOLE MILK MOZZARELLA. The 2% part skim crap you buy in a bag is disgusting in comparison. I can't even remember when/who/how I was enlightened to only use whole milk mozz, but I am thankful for the experience. (I buy the big pack, grate it all in my food processor and freeze half) I finished topping the crust with some freshly grated aged Parmesan and into the oven it went. When it came out, I garnished with chopped scallions and of course- my homemade ranch dressing. Please see my AMB post for that recipe... it blows everyone away- and Jason and Melissa were no exception.
For dessert, I made chocolate peanut butter swirl brownies. I really like baking, I just don't do much of it. I have a cook's mind, not a baker's, and all the exactness is just too much for me sometimes. I used a recipe from my Martha Stewart holiday magazine. It's my go to for cookies/bars, etc... the empire that is Martha has never let me down. The chocolate part was bittersweet chocolate, butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs, and flour. The peanut butter part was peanut butter, butter, confectioner's sugar, and vanilla. With Haagen Dazs, whipped cream, and some candied cashews I had in the pantry, it made for a terrific late night snack.
The food was a hit- everything was just really super good. Melissa fretted about how much I had done until I convinced her that nothing makes me happier. I love it so much... really. Having Jason and Melissa as new fans of my cooking is also quite nice. They offered to always bring the drinks. Deal. Maybe next time we'll actually play a game.