Sunday, July 5, 2009

Random Dinner Parties and Invented Risotto.

There is something (many somethings, really) beautiful about the spontaneous dinner party. the one where you don't buy anything, don't plan anything, and don't know who precisely is coming to dinner. Starting from the things in the fridge, the contents of the cabinets and the scattershot notion of 'hey, that might be tasty', then moving blithely along in the knowledge that somehow or another, everyone will get fed.

Tonight was one such, featuring both usual suspects and new guests, and many experimental flavors. Now, I love a beautifully organized, synthesized, planned party as well as anything--even when the timing goes awry, the work of putting together a meal with intention of blending everything harmoniously is great. But I'll confess- assembling a dinner totally off the cuff and on the fly and playing the Foodie Challenge is one of my favorite things ever.

Our apartment's joined a CSA, and trying to a)find out what to do with all the new and exciting vegetables, b)eat them before the next week or before they c)go off tragically leads to adventures in eating. Like a silly little plate of radishes with ranch dressing and sharp cheddar. (Yes.) Or bok-choi-and-turnip lo mein using frozen noodles from the Veggie 'Dega up the street. (No.) We've got more lettuces than I know what to do with, and it's really nice to have the option of a salad, any time (I tend not to buy lettuce in stores, it just seems so pricey for so little, or so likely to not get used it's a waste.) and I would almost never buy kohlrabi voluntarily, it's such a weird little vegetable.

Weird little vegetables are awesome. And there's something great about the ability to experiment on new things, like new spices. I found this amazing store, and oh but their bulk spices are cheap. And oh, but I'm excited by the prospects.

Rambling aside (alongside, maybe) tonight Mal, Val and I made dinner for eight on nothing but what was in the house. Which ended up being some tasty CSA beets and parsley sliced thin and fried up beautifully with thyme; bok choi with curry and garlic sauce just the littlest bit sweet and spicy at once; and this wild mushroom risotto I made up, a a slightly Armenian/Middle Eastern inspired dish full of spices--sumac, turmeric, chili, cumin (and cumin seeds) and coriander seeds all making for a lovely shade of rust-orange delicious. Dessert was ice cream and little tiny meringues, with some leftover homemade whipped cream from yesternight's strawberry shortcakes.

Because last night was a tiny semi-impromptu dinner party (mushroom strudel from TJ's, burgers with caramelized onions and gouda, roasted portobello mushrooms marinated gorgeously in goddess dressing, two types of slaw and said shortcakes--For three.) was also lovely. There are no pictures of anything, for 'twas all consumed.

Ain't cooking also great?

This is all to say that I'm resuscitating this blog. What have you all been making, recently?


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