07 June 2009

A weekend to be remembered!

A couple weekends ago, my friends and I had our monthly book club gathering. Since starting the group last year, we've morphed it into a bookclub/supper club, featuring a different type of cuisine each time. Most recently, we did fondue, which was an absolute blast. At any given buffet-style dinner party, people usually fill their plates, then go sit in the designated area and wait for everyone to enter the room before starting to eat, right? Not at this party. And not with this dish. The food was so good, we all stood there star-struck with our fondue forks in our hands. Our plates remained empty. Manners went out the door and nobody seemed to mind.

We had boiling water going on the stove for meats, cheese fondue (gruyere and emmenthaler) on the table, and chocolate fondue following that. All available surfaces were covered with chorizo, shrimp, beer-marinated steak, pumpernickel, focaccia, pears, apples, bananas, prunes, dates, figs, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potato, zucchini, brussel sprouts, potatoes, pretzels, marshmallows, cheesecake bites, strawberries, pound cake, brownies, and the king of them all, mini cream puffs. Have you ever had a chocolate-dipped, coconut-sprinkled cream puff? Fresh out of the fondue pot?! Oh my... truly life-changing, folks. Book? What book? (For those of you who are wondering if our literary interests have taken a back seat to our culinary adventures, fear not, my good friends, we did indeed read and discuss the book - Out of the Silent Planet, C.S. Lewis)

Well, nothing of that has anything to do with the pictures below. You're probably wondering if we dipped sushi in the chocolate too... hmm... not such a great idea there. No, actually, the hosts (my friends John & Kasey) invited me to stay the night so we could hang out more and I wouldn't have to climb the stairs on crutches at night. Staying the night turned into staying the weekend, and it was so much fun. After book club on Friday night, I basically fell into bed at a much later hour than I am used to, but all was remedied by a trip to Dutch Brothers Coffee the next morning. K and I did some yard-sale-ing and I scored an awesome Indian-print fabric; we had lunch at the co-op and involved various strangers in our quest for mirin and tahini. K helped me vacuum out my borrowed car and we returned it to its rightful owners, who happen to have some of the cutest kids I've ever met. When we arrived at their house, all the kids were sitting around the lunch table just beaming. Suzanne, do you have visitors very often? :-) All of this led up to a decision to make dinner in that night, and Kasey had a sushi book she's been wanting to put to good use. We pored over every recipe! After a quick run to Winco, some prep time in the kitchen, and Kasey's excellent rolling skills, we came up with this:


The yellow ones on the left are wrapped with roasted sweet pepper, and the rolls on the far left are topped with slices of omelette and wrapped with seaweed. We made two dipping sauces to go along; the traditional soy/wasabe and a soy/tahini one that tasted very similar to peanut sauce.

John and Kasey have a cool little fry daddy, and none of us had ever made tempura at home, so of course we had to try it. We had vegetables left over from fondue the night before, plus we added a few favorite extras, to make tempura shrimp, sweet potato, tofu, onion rings, broccoli, cauliflower, and probably a few I'm forgetting. We made a soy-based tempura sauce to go with these as well. Not only does tempura taste great on its own, but the soy sauce really helps cut the rich flavor, and the tempura texture holds the sauce in. My favorites were the onion rings, sweet potato, and tofu.
It's not often that you have two over-the-top dining experiences in one weekend, but when you get a couple people together who all like to try new foods in their own kitchen, you never know what's going to happen. After church on Sunday morning, the three of us went back to J&K's, and we tempura'd some more! This time we even tried bananas, apples, and pears. I'm thinking apple dumpling here... cut the apple into slices instead of dicing it, and shake powdered sugar over the finished piece. Yum!
While we were frying all of this, it reminded me of wanting to try doughnuts at home some time. My family, being Dutch, is really familiar with ollie bollen, which is a Dutch doughnut-like treat. American doughnuts can have a completely different texture, especially if you're making cake doughnuts instead of yeast doughnuts, and I'm anxious to try them some Saturday at John and Kasey's. Anybody have a good recipe?


Suzanne said...

The kids were pretty excited to see you, and catching them at lunch time is usually a pretty happy time.

Kasey said...

You graciously left out the fact that I'm crazy and that it took 4 hours (or more?) to prepare that sushi/tempura dinner. And how could you forget the parmesan stuffed, bacon wrapped dates!?!

Elizabeth said...

You put me to shame in the kitchen, but then you always did, even when we were knee high to the grasshoppers.