Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Avi's Delicious Dinner Party

A good friend of ours recently hosted a dinner party - great company and great food! He went online to find some recipes and put together a stellar menu. When I asked him to confirm the date, he replied with the date and jokingly said, "So - you know how to cook, right? :)". I asked if he really did want my help and he assigned me some side dishes to go with his main courses.

A quick note, I've known Avi for about 9 years. Of the time I've known him, one year was college, 2 years he was away in grad school, and 5 years he was in Israel. This was really the first time I've had the opportunity to experience his cooking skills. Now that I have, we'll be suggesting dinner at his place more often.

Avi's Dinner Party Menu
Goat Cheese in Grape Leaves with Tomato and Olive Salad

Balsamic Blue Cheese Salad
Bread and butter

Sumac Skirt Steak with Pomegranate Reduction

Eggplant Parmesan

I went to the Natick Farmers Market in the morning to get ingredients for my contribution to the menu. I picked up some baby spinach and some fresh rigatoni from Fior D'Italia. My side dishes:

Sauteed Baby Spinach with garlic and pine nuts
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat
Add garlic and cook for a few minutes, until garlic is fragrant (but not brown)
Reduce heat to low
Add 1 lb. of washed baby spinach leaves (you may need to add in batches)
Cook until spinach is just wilted
Toast pine nuts before serving and sprinkle on top

Fior D'Italia rigatoni with artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomato pesto
I cheated and used store bought ingredients to go with the pasta.

Cook pasta according to the package directions
Drain and return to the pot
Add about 1/4 cup of pesto, tossing well
Add 1 can of rinsed and roughly chopped and toss
Reheat before serving

For dessert I also cheated and used a Trader Joe's vanilla cake mix to whip up some chocolate chip cupcakes for dessert.

I asked Avi to tell me some interesting stories about cooking, and he thought that everything was pretty normal. He stopped by Christina's in Cambridge to pick up sumac for the steak, went to the grocery store to get his ingredients, and set the table before starting to cook.

A few other notes from Avi about the preparation:

If you want to cut down the expense of the dish (pomegranate juice and skirt steak are both pretty expensive), you can try to make it with pomegranate syrup. Pomegranate syrup is already reduced juice, but a lot cheaper and it will keep forever. Using it allows you to skip the whole reduction step. This will cut about 20 minutes from the preparation. It is hard to find, although Christina's had it in stock. You can also use sirloin or rib-eye steak instead of skirt-steak. If you're good, and have the steak already coated with the sumac, the grape leaves / goat cheese already dipped in oil (both can be done a day or two in advance), you can probably pull off both those dishes and the blue-cheese salad in less than 30 minutes of work.

When we arrived, he was hard at work in the kitchen finishing up the meal. The laptop was out on the counter and he was watching a video on how to properly layer the eggplant in the baking dishes. While we started on the salad course, he put the rest of the food in the oven to warm up for the main course.

Everything was absolutely delicious. The steak was cooked perfectly and I will be adding the pomegranate reduction to my favorite sauces list. It was tart, tangy, and just a little sweet. As an engineer, and probably without even thinking about it, Avi arranged everything symmetrically on the plate (or on matching plates).

I think we polished all the food, except for the giant dish of pasta I brought over. After dinner we tried out a new-to-us game called Pit (turns out it was first sold in 1904!) We traded commodities and laughed off a few of the calories from the cupcakes and icing.

It was a great evening and we're just waiting for the next invitation!

1 comment:

  1. The skirt steak w/ pomegranate reduction looks so interesting! I don't know if I am brave enough to try and make it though!


I love your comments! Let me know what you think!


Related Posts with Thumbnails