Sunday, February 03, 2008

Happy bday/happy housewarming

Alexis: We decided to combine my 29th bday with our housewarming this weekend. I haven't thrown a party since sleepovers were still the norm so I'd forgotten how much work it was. But it was worth it and I had a lot of fun, both making the food and sharing it with friends.

Pictured here is our vegetable caponata before it went into the oven - line a baking dish with crushed tomatoes from a can (mine had basil in it). I used Giada DiLaurentis' recipe but tweaked it just a little bit. I sprinkled some shredded parmesan cheese over the tomatoes, then tossed the vegetables in a big bowl - zucchini, yellow squash, japanese eggplant, red onion, yukon gold potato, garlic with olive oil, sea salt, pepper and Italian seasoning (thyme, parsley, basil, oregano). Bake it at 400 degrees for about 30-40 minutes and enjoy with thick crusty bread. This was a crowd pleaser and I'll be making it again for sure.

The roast - we bought a 2 lb sirloin roast and just rubbed Montreal steak seasoning all over it, then roasted it for about 15 minutes at 500, then turned it down to 350 and roasted it for another 30 minutes. Flavorful and juicy, served with a sauce of red peppers, gaeta olives, capers and garlic on the side.

I had a hard time picking out my cupcakes. Buttercup, Sugar Sweet Sunshine and our local spot Heavenly Crumbs were the top contenders but in the end we decided to go local. I got red velvet with cream cheese icing, chocolate with French vanilla and raspberry icings, yellow with triple berry, toasted almond and passionfruit icings, carrot spice with cream cheese and German chocolate cupcakes. Have to say my favorites were the red velvet and yellow with toasted almond. Red velvet is my all-time favorite and the cake was moist, icing thick and tasty but not pasty. It's buttercream without being too rich. And the toasted almond icing had a touch of almond extract and a dusting of crushed nuts on top. Definitely a hit.

Not pictured here - I made some dips to go with veggies and pita chips.
Eggplant caviar - bake a med-large eggplant at 350 until collapsed. Make sure you poke it on all sides with a fork first. Scoop all the flesh out, discarding the skin. Add some lemon juice, sherry vinegar (I used white wine), olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped capers and chopped garlic. This can be made a couple days in advance. Great with pita chips.
White bean and tomato bruschetta topping - rinse a can of cannelini beans in water. Chop beans and a couple of vine ripe tomatoes (discard the seeds). Chop parsley, half a shallot. Mix together with shredded parmesan, lemon juice and olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper. I served this on the side but it's definitely great on a toasted baguette.
I also recreated our favorite snack from the Dove, blanched almonds with thyme. Whole Foods carries almonds that are already blanched. Heat a little bit of olive oil in a pan and add the almonds. Toast until they start browning a little bit, then add dried thyme and sea salt. Super easy - everyone loved these as well.
We also had cantaloupe wrapped in golden prosciutto - it was worth it to get the good stuff because it's like butter. I also sliced up some fresh mozzarella and wrapped them in the prosciutto, sprinkled with fresh black pepper and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

I was worried we wouldn't have enough but it seemed to be just right - we barely have any leftovers which is a good thing.

Alex: I don't know what to say except if you didn't show up you missed out. ALL of the food was excellent! And Alexis made sure to let everyone know all I did was put the Roast in the oven. Haha.. I didn't even take it out, I'm such a lame. Seriously though, be on the lookout for our next party, I guarantee your stomach will go home happy. Alexis is da bomb! Yeah, I just said that.

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