Sunday, November 19, 2006

Dinner Party Prep

My friend L. and I love cooking. Even more, we love cooking for other people. We're trying to have people over about once a month, but initially we had trouble finding times everyone could make. We realized that getting everyone together on a weekend is tough (this was especially true during the summer) and so we came up with the two night dinner party.

On the first night, we do all the shopping, prep and any cooking we can do ahead of time. Then, ideally, the second night, we only have to finish up what we're doing. The only hitch that we've found is that we also need to eat that first night. So we've taken to whipping up something really fast and easy for us to eat (ordering in just feels a little wrong when the purpose of getting together is to cook).

For this night, in addition to the meal for tomorrow night, we also whipped up a quick Penne Puttanesca. I'm a fan of pasta cooking that doesn't require recipes and takes advantage of what's in the cupboard and fridge. This one actually turned out particularly well (the picture is close up because I keep forgetting to take photos and the sides of the bowl were no longer pristine).

I've included an estimate of the recipe (serves 2):
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic
1 onion
1/2 c olives
2 T capers
dried spices:
- crushed red pepper (mine was sweat inducing hot, which I love)
- black pepper
- salt
- oregano
- basil
1/3 c ruby port
fresh basil (mine is actually frozen - the bunches they sell are usually too big for what I need, but I've found that freezing them, while it is not that good for color, is totally fine for taste)

Saute the onions and garlic. Add the tomato paste, dried spices, capers and port. Let simmer for about 20 minutes. Add olives (I don't know that you need to wait to add them, but I always do) and fresh basil.

The port and the basil seem to add that touch of sweet to balance the salt of the olives and capers (and salt - I tend to like salty dishes) and the spice of the pepper.


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