Tuesday, October 26, 2010

dinner for four.

Two weeks ago, we had the privilege of cooking a meal for our dear friends Sandi and Suzanne, something we had wanted to do for months as a way to thank them for the amazing friends that they are to us and to our children.  They got a babysitter and my mom took both of our kids for a sleepover, so we actually had an entire evening all to ourselves in our own house.  It was weird.  It was wonderful.

Sam and I had fun pouring over cookbooks trying to come up with an adventurous menu.

One thing about Sam and me (that we know and acknowledge) is that we don't play well together in the kitchen.  If I am making something and Sam stands over my shoulder and makes a suggestion, I don't know why, but I find it exceedingly irksome, even if he has a good point.  And he doesn't love my need-to-control everything attitude either, so we usually have a general rule that only one person cooks at a time.  But this was a big job, so we decided to split the menu in half.

Here is the menu:
Mixed Greens                                French Bread                           Carrot-Coriander Soup       
Moroccan Chicken Pie                  Stuffed Red Peppers                Chocolate Fondue

The Essential Mediterranean CookbookAll of the recipes came from this Mediterranean Cookbook that I  borrowed stole from my mom. 

Sam made the bread, salad and stuffed peppers.  I made the soup, chicken pie, and chocolate fondue.

We cooked all day, taking turns keeping the kids busy.  In the late afternoon, I dropped off the kids at my mom's and then we came home and got to do one of my very favorite things:  cook with a glass of wine while friends sit in the kitchen and talk and laugh and eat cheese and olives. 

Here is the food.  I'll post recipes at the bottom.
 Sam prepping the bread for the oven.  I love a man in an apron.

Carrot-Coriander Soup and Salad.

Moroccan Chicken Pie, before it was sliced.

Red Peppers stuffed with brown rice, pine nuts, currants and spices.

 After dinner, we lingered for hours over a bowl of chocolate fondue and a platter of things to dip into it.  (Couldn't find the fondue pot which is somewhere with the rarely-used kitchen stuff). 
Cheers to an evening with beautiful friends, music on the stereo, and otherwise-occupied-children.

Here are the recipes:

Stuffed Peppers

6 medium peppers (red, yellow or orange)
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 ounces pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup currants
2 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1.  Remove tops and seeds from peppers and blanch the peppers (not the tops) in boiling water for 2 minutes and then dry on paper towels.
2.  Preheat oven to 350. 
3.  Mix all ingredients, pine nuts through the cinnamon with the rice.  Divide the mixture among the peppers.
4.  Stand the peppers in a baking dish in which they fit snugly.  Place tops on peppers and drizzle all the peppers with a little olive oil.  Bake for 40 minutes.

Carrot-Coriander Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 1/2 pounds of carrots, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
5 cups chicken stock

1.  Heat olive oil in a saucepan, add the onion and carrot and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.
2.  Add the bayleaf and spices to cook for 2 minutes.  Add the stock, bring to boil, simmer for 40 minutes.  Cool slightly then blend in a food processor or with an immersion blender.
3.  Serve with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of cilantro.

Moroccan Chicken Pie (Bisteeya)

6 tbs butter
3 lbs of chicken (I used breasts)
1 large onion, chopped
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 cup chicken stock
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
3 tbs chopped parsley
1/3 cup chopped almonds

12 oz filo pastry dough

1.  Preheat oven to 350.
2.  Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large frying pan, add the chicken, onion, 2 tsp of the cinnamon, all the other spices and the chicken stock.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
3.  Remove chicken from sauce and let cool.  Shred the meat into thin strips.
4.  Bring the liquid in the pan to a simmer and add the eggs.  Cook the mixture, stirring constantly until the eggs are cooked and the mixture is quite dry.  Add the chicken, chopped cilantro and parsley, season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
5.  Bake the almonds on a cookie sheet until golden brown.  Cool slightly and then blend in a food processor with a tbsp of sugar and remaining 2 tsp of cinnamon.
6.  Melt the remaining 4 tbs of butter.  Place a sheet of filo on a greased pizza tray (or, I used a spring form pan which held everything together really well).  Brush with the melted butter.  Place another sheet on top in a pinwheel effect and brush with butter.  Continue brushing and layering until you have used 8 sheets.  Place the chicken mixture on top and sprinkle with the almond mixture.
7.  Fold the overlapping filo over the top of the filling.  Place a sheet of filo over the top and brush with butter.  Continue to layer and butter sheets of filo in the same pinwheel effect until you have used 8 sheets again.  Tuck the overhanging edges over the pie to form a neat round parcel.  Brush well with the remaining butter.  Bake the pie for 40 minutes until cooked through and golden.


Brooke said...

Very impressive menu.

I cannot even remember what those evenings feel like. Sigh.

Carver Fam said...

Oh, what a night!

It was yummy. It was fun. It was quiet. (!)

Thank you for the labor of love this meal was. Thank you for playing well in the kitchen together. And, mostly, thank you so very much for being such an ENORMOUS part of our lives.

It wouldn't be possible for us to love you more. Nope. It wouldn't.

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