Intimate Cape

We had an intimate Cape dinner last night, just five of us. I had lots of tomatoes from my csa box and decided to make that delicious  Pasta With Tomato and Ginger Salsa and Creme Fraiche again. My family agreed that the dish can use a lot more fresh ginger than the recipe calls for.

• Rita’s Signature Salad, Blueberries & Orange Version •
Make a batch of  Rita’s Dressing with orange juice and zest, instead of lemon. Make the dressing in the salad bowl and then add all of the ingredients that can safely sit in the dressing, in this case, blueberries and fresh herbs. Put the leafy greens and anything that can’t sit in the dressing without getting soggy, on top and then leave it alone. Toss just before eating. When the time comes to toss the salad, Rita will tell you that you need to “mix it, really, really mix it.” It’s a great way to bring salad to a friend’s house, all in one bowl, without having to put the dressing in a bottle or jar.

After dinner

We had dinner at a party tonight. In lieu of a post about dinner, here is a photo of the very delicious cocktail Shane made for us after dinner. It was a lemony, limey, dash of cranberry, vodka & triple sec drink, blended with ice. If it wasn’t so late, I’d invite you over for one right now.

Pizza to pasta, a story of failure and redemption

Shane was planning make pizza last night but the yeast was bad and the dough didn’t rise. He cooked a pie with the bad dough anyhow. It’s true, the dough wasn’t right, it was thin, but too crispy. Shane would only let me serve the pizza with the disclaimer that it was terrible, crappy pizza. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their terrible, crappy pizza, while Shane cooked up some pasta. We had the tomato sauce over pasta, and the pizza toppings on the side. It was just fine, good even.

Steak for the injured

Shane fell off of his bike this morning, he’s fine but rather banged up. I suggested steak, and he brought home two. Shane likes a grilled ribeye steak. Since we live in an apartment building and cannot grill outdoors, we use a cast-iron grilling pan.

• Indoor-Grilled Ribeye Steak •
Lightly oil a cast-iron grillig pan, preheat pan on the range top, over a high flame. Season your steak, with salt and pepper and cook until done, 5-7 minutes per side for medium rare. A good cut of meat should not need a lot of seasoning but you can serve with steak sauce, if you like.

Do you know those little red, orange and yellow peppers they sell at Costco? They come in a bag and are about 2-3″ long? Well, they’re delicious and easy to make.

• Roasted Cubanelle Peppers •
Rinse the peppers, toss them in olive oil and salt, and roast them in a 400 degree oven, until they’re soft and juicy. They’re good enough just like that. Tonight, I ripped bufala mozzarella into bite-size chunks, tossed it with the peppers, and heated in the oven for two minutes, until the cheese was just warm through.

The salad was arugula and farro with a creamy lemon, yogurt and olive oil dressing. I will make it again (with measuring) and post a recipe sometime.

Best green beans ever & noteworthy chicken

A certain someone in my family (ahem, Jenya) might just use the phrase “best ever” a bit too liberally when it comes to food. I however, reserve it for things like these absolutely, amazingly wonderful and delectable, Feisty Green Beans from 101 Cookbooks. (At least I think I do.) The dish is made with lots of other things to make it hearty, tofu, almonds, creme fraiche and fresh cilantro, among others. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow.

We also had a new, very quick chicken dish that got an emphatic ‘yes’ when I asked if it was good. Shane even ate all of the sauce off of his plate with a fork, something that he usually considers too tedious and not filling enough to be worth his time. The chicken was Chicken with White Wine and Lemon from Dinner A Love Story.

• Roasted Red Potatoes •
Quarter your potatoes, toss them in olive oil, sprinkle with Camp Mix’s Spud Fixin’ and roast in a 400 degree oven until browned and cooked through.

Sticks! Dinner for 49 on a sailboat

My mom and dad both turned 70 this month. Yep, their birthdays are a day apart. Since my dad likes boats, sailboats in particular, and my mom likes parties with lots of people, we decided to charter a boat and have a big party on it. We also decided to keep the boat a surprise.

We settled on a sunset cruise on the Schooner Liberté, a 74 foot sailing ship that runs out of Falmouth in the summer. The crew of the Liberté is actually a family, and they live on the boat 9 months out of the year, you can read all about them here. Were more than impressed with their setup, their ability to accommodate our group, bartend, sail the boat and prep and serve the food. And all with good humor, charm and ease. Plus, they managed to keep the rain away, somehow.

So, how do you feed 49 people on a sail boat?* We think it was Shane who came up with the idea of food on sticks. This way there would be no juggling, no plates or utensils and always a free hand to grab on to something. It worked brilliantly and everything was delicious.

The Menu:
Shrimp cocktail on sticks, served on a bed of ice with cocktail sauce for dipping.
Tomato, mozzarella and pesto-topped crouton on sticks.
Grilled chicken, marinated in lime, soy, garlic and honey, on sticks.
Caesar salad on sticks, romaine and a crouton, drizzled with caesar dressing.
Small, roasted potatoes on sticks.
Meatballs on sticks, cooked in tomato sauce, with pecorino cheese for dipping.
Brownies and marshmallows on sticks.

Photos left to right: 1. Rose and Jenya preparing the tomato, mozzarella sticks.  2. Potatoes ready to roast.  3. Rose and Ronni preparing the croutons. 4. Wayne, André & Allan skewering marinated chicken before grilling.  5. Jenya, Jenny and the romaine.  6. Shane and his well-wrapped meatballs, plus other dishes all ready to go.  7. Our amazing team, aka “the kids” Rose, Shane, Anna, Jenya (with baby C) & André.  8. Everyone waiting for the boat.  9. The Schooner Liberté.  10. Aboard the Liberté.  11. The lovely Jane, First Mate, bartender, waitress, hostess, food-prepper and mom.  12. Shrimp cocktail sticks and tomato, mozzarella & pesto-topped crouton sticks.  13. Caesar salad on sticks, meatballs on sticks and roasted potatoes on sticks.  14. Meatballs on sticks.  15. Cozy kids enjoying brownie and marshmallow sticks.  16. Anna leads a birthday toast for Rita and Morgan.

*Anna, Jenya and I are a great team and did a ton of planning for the party but we could not have pulled it off without lots (and lots) of help. Thank you, Shane, André, Rose, Wayne, Ronni, Sharon, Dick, Pam, Allan, Jenny, Regan, Iris, Johanna, Kate, Mick, Drew, Cathy, Gail and everyone else who helped pull this off without a hitch.

Pasta with brie, and fish for 24

Dinner for 24 is not all that out of the ordinary for the Cape, but an impressive number nonetheless. I’m not entirely sure who cooked besides Rita and Drew because Jenya, Anna, Shane, Andre and I were too busy preparing for a dinner for 49 (!) tomorrow night.

Tonight, we had locally caught striped bass and bluefish and the ever popular Pasta with brie, tomatoes and basil from the Silver Palate Cookbook. The salad was made with arugula, cucumbers and watermelon radishes from the Drew’s garden.