Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Recession Dinner Party

The idea: Have a dinner party without breaking the budget

The plan: Three couples, three dishes, $60 total

The goal: Make your dish for under $20. (We originally set the bar at $10, but that began to seem a bit impossible for a main course feeding 6 people.)

My assignment: Appetizers for 6.

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Hello, we represent $20 worth of food. Twenty bucks doesn't go as far as it used to.

I decided to try out my new Baba Ganoush recipe on my unsuspecting dinner companions. As a back up plan, I also made your basic "Tomatoes with Mozzerella, Basil, and Balsamic Vinegar." You know, just in case my attempt at recreating Fatina's recipe was a horrible blunder in judgment.

I dutifully grilled my eggplant on the grill. (It later exploded from the heat. Note to self - prick eggplant with a fork before grilling, to let steam escape.)

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I assembled the dip just like Fatina had showed me, and it was actually looking (and tasting) pretty darn good. I had a bit of extra time left before we had to leave for the party, so I thought I might tackle one more thing... Pita Bread!

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For my birthday, my brother Matt got me a gift card to Barnes & Noble, which I used to buy myself a new book: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It just so happens that I made a batch of dough while my family was in town, and it just so happens that the book contains a recipe for easy pita bread, so I thought I'd give it a whirl (and bought back-up Naan just in case).

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My favorite thing about this book is that once you've made the dough, you just grab a hunk of it from your fridge, dust it with flour, and throw it in the oven. No extra rising time, no extra kneading, no additional bread responsibilities.

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Which is just how I like it, because really, who has time to babysit bread dough all day?

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For the pita bread, I cut off a grapefruit sized hunk of dough, stretched it into a ball, and rolled it out to a 1/8 inch uniform thickness. After about 5-10 minutes in a 500 degree oven, it puffed up and browned beautifully. No fuss pita bread! I love it!

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I even had time to shower and change clothes before our dinner party that night (which I'm sure was greatly appreciated by our dinner companions).

The Menu:

Appetizers: Tomatoes With Mozzerella, Basil, and Balsamic; Baba Ganoush with Homemade Pita Bread

Main Dish: Chicken with Saffron Rice and Golden Raisins (Fantastically delicious, and I think this may have been the first time I've actually had saffron.)

Dessert: Warm Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding with Strawberries, Raisins, and Fresh Ground Nutmeg (We got to grate our own nutmeg over the dessert with a grater! Super cool.)

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Total food tab? $60. Proof that we can still eat well, chat into the wee hours and thoroughly enjoy ourselves even during a recession? Priceless.

3 comments:

Steven Steele said...

That rice pudding was awesome!

Steven Steele said...

Also, I can't remember the last time I was out until 1am.

I must be getting old! :)

Tracy Swift said...

Steven, we were shocked when we realized what time it was! We NEVER stay up past 11. :) What a fun night!!