Around the World!

Hello! This week’s dinner was so much fun. We had lots of delicious food from around the world, some great conversation, and a very special guest. Despite the ridiculous number of mosquito bites we all woke up with Saturday morning, we all had such a wonderful night.

I turned 23 on the 22nd, so this was the dinner in which we celebrated that and we did it well. Mary and Taylor were “business partners” for the day and made a beautiful birthday cake (recipe below) complete with candles and they led the group in a pretty solid rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’.

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Anyway, I’m sure you’re all dying to know who our special guest this week was, right? Let me set this up for you. I got a text from Taylor on Wednesday saying we’d have a guest joining us for dinner and who it was. I thought it would be fun to surprise the FND crew so I told them we’d have someone coming to dinner, but didn’t tell them who it was. It was going to be a surprise until this guest showed up to dinner, but Taylor cracked and told Mary when they were going about their birthday cake business, so when the rest of the crew got to dinner on Friday, I had to tell them who it was. Our special guest? Andrew, the sous chef at Ox, a restaurant here in Portland that was recently named restaurant of the year. No pressure, right? Just a professional chef coming to join us for dinner, bringing his own amazing food and eating our not-so-professional (but still delicious) food. Obviously, we had nothing to worry about because our food is always so good 🙂 It was fun to talk to Andrew though and really get an idea of what his like as a chef is like (it’s crazy. He basically runs on little-to-no sleep).

Andrew decided to take on Mexico for his contribution for this week’s dinner and he made some killer guacamole, salsa, and tortilla chips. We haven’t got the recipes for those yet, but as soon as we do I’ll post them here. In the meantime, check out the other feature recipes we had this week!

Spanish Tortilla (Spain): 

Via The Best International Recipe from the editors of Cook’s Illustrated

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1lb. russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch thick rounds
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • Salt
  • 10 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425°F. Heat the oil in a 10-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the potatoes, onion and 1/2 tsp. salt and stir to coat thoroughly. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and onion are soft, 8-10 minutes.
  2. Whisk the eggs, pepper, and 1 tsp. salt together until uniformly yellow. Pour the eggs over the potatoes, stir gently to combine, and continue to cook until the eggs begin to set, about 1 minute.
  3. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the eggs are cooked, the top is puffed, and the edges have pulled away slightly from the sides of the pan, about 9 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to loosen the tortilla from the skillet, the carefully slide in on to a carving board. Slice into wedges/squares and serve with salsa brava (recipe below). The tortilla can be made up to 4 hours in advance and served at room temperature.
Spanish Tortilla

Spanish Tortilla

Ground Turkey Pie (England): 

Ingredients:

  • Pre-made frozen pie crust
  • 1 small onion
  • 5-6 button mushrooms
  • 2/3 lb ground turkey (or any other ground meat)
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (we used Mozzarella)

Directions:

  1. Dice the onion and mushrooms.
  2. Saute onion and mushrooms for 2 minutes. Add meat and a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce, saute until meat is browned.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. If your pie crust is straight out of the freezer, put it in the oven to defrost as the oven preheats.
  4. Whisk 3 eggs with milk. Add salt and pepper, whatever other seasonings you like.
  5. Take pie crust out of freezer. Spread most of the meat and vegetables in a thick layer at the bottom of the pie crust. Add a layer of shredded cheese.
  6. Add the rest of the meat and vegetables on top. Add another cheese layer.
  7. Pour the egg mixture on top, slowly, spreading it as evenly as possible. It should cover most of the ingredients in the crust but not completely submerge them. If you think there’s too little egg for all your ingredients, you’re probably right. Whisk another egg with a splash of milk and pour that on top too.
  8. Cook for 30 minutes. If you’ve added another egg, you may need to cook for longer. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before eating.

Ratatouille (France):

Via

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced into rings
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat bottom and sides of a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir garlic until lightly browned. Mix in parsley and eggplant. Cook and stir until eggplant is soft, about 10 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
  3. Spread eggplant mixture evenly across bottom of prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with a few tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Spread zucchini in an even layer over top. Lightly salt and sprinkle with a little more cheese. Continue layering in this fashion, with onion, mushrooms, bell pepper, and tomatoes, covering each layer with a sprinkling of salt and cheese.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.
Ratatouille

Ratatouille

Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil (Italy):

Via

Ingredients:

  • 6 or 7 ripe plum tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 baguette French or Italian bread
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Directions:

  1. Prepare the tomatoes first. Parboil the tomatoes for one minute in boiling water that has just been removed from the burner. Drain. Using a sharp small knife, remove the skins of the tomatoes. (If the tomatoes are too hot, you can protect your finger tips by rubbing them with an ice cube between tomatoes.) Once the tomatoes are peeled, cut them in halves or quarters and remove the seeds and juice from their centers. Also cut out and discard the stem area. Why use plum tomatoes instead of regular tomatoes? The skins are much thicker and there are fewer seeds and less juice.
  2. Make sure there is a top rack in place in your oven. Turn on the oven to 450°F to preheat.
  3. While the oven is heating, chop up the tomatoes finely. Put tomatoes, garlic, 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, vinegar in a bowl and mix. Add the chopped basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Slice the baguette on a diagonal about 1/2 inch thick slices. Coat one side of each slice with olive oil using a pastry brush. Place on a cooking sheet, olive oil side down. You will want to toast them in the top rack in your oven, so you may need to do these in batches depending on the size of your oven. Once the oven has reached 450°F, place a tray of bread slices in the oven on the top rack. Toast for 5-6 minutes, until the bread just begins to turn golden brown.
    Alternatively, you can toast the bread without coating it in olive oil first. Toast on a griddle for 1 minute on each side. Take a sharp knife and score each slice 3 times. Rub some garlic in the slices and drizzle half a teaspoon of olive oil on each slice. This is the more traditional method of making bruschetta.
  5. Align the bread on a serving platter, olive oil side up. Either place the tomato topping in a bowl separately with a spoon for people to serve themselves over the bread, or place some topping on each slice of bread and serve. If you top each slice with the tomatoes, do it right before serving or the bread may get soggy.

Melitzanosalata (Greece): 

Via

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Use a fork to prick the eggplants all over.  Put them on a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes.  Remove and drain on a paper towel if needed.  Let cool until they can be handled.  Cut them in half and scoop all the insides out into a food processor.  Add minced garlic and lemon juice.  Pulse a few times to combine.  Continue to pulse while adding a steady stream of olive oil.  Stir in parsley, salt and pepper.

    Around the World

    Around the World

Best Birthday Cake (USA): 

Via

Ingredients:

Cake: 

  • 4 cups plus 2 tbsp. cake flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups buttermilk, well shaken

Frosting: 

  • 15oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/4 tsp. instant espresso (optional)
  • 2 1/4 cups sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Cake: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just Incorporated.
  3. Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

Frosting: 

  1. Combine the chocolate and espresso powder, if using, in the top of a double-boiler or in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted. (Alternately, you can melt the chocolate in a microwave for 30 seconds, stirring well, and then heating in 15 second increments, stirring between each, until the chocolate is melted.) Remove from heat and let chocolate cool until tepid.
  2. Whisk together the sour cream, 1/4 cup of the corn syrup and vanilla extract until combined. Add the tepid chocolate slowly and stir quickly until the mixture is uniform. Taste for sweetness, and if needed, add additional corn syrup in one tablespoon increments until desired level of sweetness is achieved.
  3. Let cool in the refrigerator until the frosting is a spreadable consistency. This should not take more than 30 minutes. Should the frosting become too thick or stiff, just leave it out until it softens again.
Best Birthday Cake

Best Birthday Cake

Happy eating, everyone!

P.S. Stay tuned for another post later today. I gave Taylor another baking lesson yesterday and she killed it.

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