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Monday, May 17, 2010

Success on Plates!

Last night's non-baby shower baby shower was, in my opinion, a rousing success. Between the gorgeous weather, the fire that made us all come home smelling like high school, the great wine, and the great company? All you could want in a non-traditional event.

Oh, and the food was bonkers! I'm not one to often quote Rachel Zoe, but it was BANANAS! I've linked to the blogs of R and N before, where they blog about kitchen design, their phenomenal DIAB product (check it out, you'll LOVE IT) and best of all, food. R and N are self-proclaimed food folk. And they are friends I'm lucky to have in more ways than one. They have elevated my game, I think. And nights like last night, I thank them for it. (And for their endless praise of my dishes!) But they always, and I mean always blow me away with the things that come from their gorgeous and a dream to cook in kitchen.

As discussed yesterday, the menu consisted of my sauteed radish crostini, and friend Liz's ridonkulous dip! We then moved onto my blackened asparagus, R's gorgeous, simple, and freaking delicious orzo salad (that I am kicking myself for not getting a picture of)  and N's vegetable tarts that were one of the best things I've ever tasted as prepared by him, and trust me--he doesn't make anything that doesn't taste fantastic!  Dessert was my Passover brownies (which apparently taste better when it's NOT Passover) and my first ever cheesecake.

Ok, so in a nutshell? Everything was amazing. And I'm being serious. The radishes, which were a new adventure for me and almost everyone eating them, were this deliciously sweet and spicy, yet insanely fresh concoction. This is a recipe I will make again and again, probably trying the actual NYT recipe at some point (lots of garlic and anchovy!) The dish is simple, seasonal, and lovely...I'm seriously encouraging you to try it.

The orzo salad was so good I'm absolutely bogarting it and using it at every summer party. The blackened asparagus MIGHT be better than the string beans that originated the recipe. But N's tarts...I mean really, stick a fork in me. The crust was perfectly flaky and buttery, giving way to the beautifully seasoned and grilled veggies waiting for you inside. Matched with the melty goodness of the cheeses (Raclette and a great cheddar I forgot to get the name of) there was nothing left. I had two pieces. Sorry!

Moving to dessert, my cheesecake rocked! Seriously! The fact that I'd somehow never made a cheesecake before made the silky goodness that much more delicious. Rich, fattening, and luxurious--it was all a cheesecake should be. I've got to thank Apron Anxiety for the recipe. Super, super easy--and the payoff was gooood.  Add in some delicious wines, a few beers, and the embers of a lovely fire pit...the night was a raving success and had me driving home all a glow from the food.

This morning I'll switch back to yogurt and berries, and probably need a massive workout. But watching a very pregnant friend and her husband enjoy a vegetarian feast in their honor makes it all worth it, trust me.

Sauteed Radish Crostini
2 bunches radishes
1 TBSP olive oil, plus more for drizzling and brushing baguette
1/4 tsp salt
1 TBSP cracked black pepper
2 tsp crushed red pepper
zest of half a lemon
1/4 C parsley, chopped
whole wheat baguette, sliced
sea salt

Wash and drain radishes, removing tail and any bruised bits.
Slice lengthwise, first in half, and then in slices--about 4 or so per half.
Heat up a sautee pan large enough for all the radishes to lay in one layer (as best as possible) 
Season with crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper. Let cook on one side, without moving, for approximately three minutes.
Shake the pan around, allowing the radishes to continue cooking for another 3 minutes or so.

Remove radishes from skillet, add lemon zest and parsley, set aside.

Make crostini by placing baguette slices onto a sheet pan, drizzling with olive oil, and toasting in a 350 oven for about 5-7 minutes.
Remove from oven, and brush with a bit more olive oil to moisten.
Pile radish mixture onto crostini, and top with a sprinkling of fine flaked sea salt before serving.

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