Friday, January 7, 2011

Mama's Birthday

My mom's birthday is New Year's Eve. Apparently people born on New Year's Eve have special powers. That's only fair because holiday birthdays in general can be tough. People wanting to combine presents and everything. Mom hadn't had a party in a while so I decided it was time, and we did it last night since January 6 is Twelfth Night which I don't know too much about but I know it calls for revelry.

I created a cute invite on Paperless Post (I don't know that I'll ever use Evite again), Mom got me her list, I set the menu, and oops. We decided to move. So there were boxes all over the house. Oh well. I draped what I could in tablecloths.

Here's what I made:
Lentils with red wine vinegar, cilantro, cumin and sheeps' milk feta (no pic--they were delicious and looked like lentils)
Warm pasta salad (ok room temp by the time it was eaten) with cauliflower, black kale, currants, pine nuts, and breadcrumbs

Kabocha squash with dandelion greens, pecans and Roncal cheese (recipe coming momentarily)

Persimmon pudding (again, devoured before photo op but this link will take you there) which doesn't sound particularly glamorous but honestly in the two times I've made it I've never had so many people clambering for the recipe.

Also present: delicious cheeses including this one that looks like a flower and is called Tete-a-Something and is Swiss
plenty of grapes, cherries, bread, crackers, a weird cheese spread someone had given me, cupcakes from here, and fab spring rolls that my landlady/upstairs neighbor/good friend made
The party was to start around 7 and at 6:30 Mom and I were hanging out and the power went out. In the whole neighborhood. A transformer blew. So out went the lights, the music, even the heat. HA! My landlady brought an extra candelabra down
we all put sweaters on over our party dresses, a few people arrived in the dark, and then right around 8:00 it came back on! YAY! And the party was fab.

Yes, those are napkins with my mom's initial that I glitter-monogrammed myself on Wednesday night. A very cute idea and you will have glitter all over your house and guests will have it all over their faces:)
It was a toss-up which recipe to post. I must say the food was good. And what I don't post today I'll post sometime soon. But I'm going Kabocha since after making this salad I think I could eat it every day 3 times a day for a week. Sadly it was devoured so no leftovers pour moi. And since we're moving I'm playing Clean Out the Fridge so I won't be buying new kabocha ingredients til after January 16. You can make it and I will live vicariously through you.

Kabocha Squash Salad with Dandelion Greens, Pecans and Roncal Cheese
adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin

1/2 c pecan halves
plenty of EVO
a medium kabocha squash
1 T thyme leaves
sherry vinegar
1/2 lb dandelion greens, washed and thick bottom parts of stems removed
1/4 c sliced shallot
1/4 lb Roncal cheese (or pecorino)

Toast pecans on a baking sheet at 375 for about 10 minutes or til they're nutty-smelling. Toss with a tiny bit of EVO and a little salt.
Seed, cut into fairly slim wedges, and peel kabocha squash. (*see tip at the end for how to do this).
When pecans are finished, turn oven up to 425.
Toss squash with a few tablespoons EVO, a little salt, pepper and the thyme. Place flat on baking sheet and roast 30-45 min til tender when pierced and starting to caramelize.
Whisk a few tablespoons sherry vinegar with some EVO (slightly more vinegar than oil), and a pinch of salt.
Place dandelion in large bowl.
Heat a large saute pan over hi heat, add a couple more tablespoons of olive oil, reduce heat to medium and add shallot. Cook for a minute or 2, stirring constantly so the shallot doesn't brown (you're barely barely cooking it). Remove pan from heat and swirl in vinaigrette to warm it (amazing. I'm going to use this trick a lot).
Add squash and warm dressing mixture to greens. Season with a little salt and pepper and toss gently. Taste for seasoning.
Arrange half of salad on platter. Use a vegetable peeler to shave some cheese over salad and sprinkle half the pecans over top. Top with the rest of the salad, cheese and pecans.

IT IS SO GOOD. I worship kabocha squash in any form, but the hubs does not and he was all over this salad. The original recipe has bacon in it and she doesn't really cook the shallots at all. I did in lieu of bacon to give a slightly deeper flavor. Also, she specifies amounts of oil and vinegar but I eyed it and it was good. You know yourself: if you like a lot of oil, use it, if you don't, don't. And why have I forgotten about sherry vinegar for so long?? Might be my new staple.

*easy way to peel kabocha squash: cut in half. seed. slice into wedges and peel wedges with a paring knife. I found this a lot easier than peeling the halves and then slicing.

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