Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cooking with Friends

Matt and I have an informal resolution to invite friends over at least once a month for dinner. It's "informal" because I like to set quantifiable goals that guide all aspects of my life, while Matt prefers to handle things like dinner parties more organically.

Claire and Jorge came over at six, and the four of us (plus Hoss) descended upon the kitchen and started making dinner: Thai Tofu and Winter Squash Stew + Fudge Brownies with Walnuts (from scratch).

Claire and Jorge gave Matt the recipes for his birthday back in November, and we've been trying to get together ever since (hence the reason we made a "winter squash" in spring).

Even though our kitchen is relatively small, we each managed to find a working space and got started.

Here's what we made:

Thai Tofu and Winter Squash Stew
  • 1-3 medium leeks, white parts only (we used a white onion instead)
  • 2 T. roasted peanut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 serrano chiles, minced
  • 1 T. finely chopped ginger
  • 1 T. curry powder
  • 1 t. brown sugar
  • 3 T. mushroom soy sauce
  • 1 15 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1.5 lb. butternut squash (we found this in the frozen section)
  • Salt
  • 1 10 oz. package silken tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/2 c. chopped peanuts
  • 1/4 c. chopped cilantro
  1. Heat the oil in a wide soup pot.
  2. Add the leeks/onions and cook over fairly high heat, stirring frequently until partially softened (about 3 min.).
  3. Add the garlic, most of the chiles (less, depending on your spice preference), and ginger, cook 1 min. more.
  4. Add the curry, sugar, and soy sauce. Reduce the heat to medium, scrape the pan, and cook for a few more minutes.
  5. Add 3 C. water, the coconut milk, squash, and 1 t. salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer covered for 15 min.
  6. Add the tofu, fried or raw, to the stew once the squash is almost tender. Then simmer until it's done.
  7. Taste for salt and add the lime juice.
  8. Garnish with lime, cilantro, and peanuts.
While Claire and I attacked the soup, the boys worked on the homemade brownies:
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 5 oz. + 3 oz. bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 C. (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 C. sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 C. all purpose flour
  • 1 C. chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 C. (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray 9x9x2-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.
  3. Stir 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, butter, and unsweetened chocolate in medium saucepan over low heat until smooth.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Whist sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt in large bowl until fluffy.
  6. Stir in melted chocolate mixture.
  7. Mix in flour, then nuts and chips; spread in pan.
  8. Bake until tested inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached (about 35 minutes).
  9. Top with vanilla ice-cream. Yum!
Usually when we invite friends over, Matt and I do all the cooking before the guests arrive. It was a fun change to cook with everyone in the kitchen (even though Hoss made it difficult by taking up tons of precious floor space with his massive bloodhound body).

Here's a picture of our compost (we keep it in a tupperware cupcake holder in the refrigerator until it's full and we move it outside). Plus, you can see the cool dishtowel Claire knitted for us for my birthday.

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megan said...

fun post, sara! i love matt cowlick! so cute. that sounds like so much fun! we had an informal engagement bbq and it was a blast to have everyone there hanging out and helping out. it's that sense of community you talk about!

i have a DELISH soup recipe i've been dying to share- although it's from canned ingredients and has meat in it:

sautee one onion and 3 diced slices bacon in a large saucepan. add 1 can cream corn, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 1/2 cups cubed potatoes, and 3 cups milk. boil, reduce to simmer for 25 mins. add salt and pepper to taste.

easy breezy and my best friend calls it "naughty" because it's so good.

Aarika said...

Cooking with friends sounds like a lot of fun. I think this is something that my hubby and I may do as well.

Moxie said...

That looks uber delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Anonymous said...

I love your house. Where are dining chairs from???

Sara E. Cotner said...

@ Anonymous: Thanks! I got the chairs, um, nine years ago I guess? They are folding chairs from Sam's Club.

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