Sunday, November 17, 2013

What's For Dinner: Live!

Facebook is so weird. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook most of the time, thanks to the outpouring of nasty politics, oversharing, and general negativity it tends to breed, but lately my feelings for the social media mega whore have turned to love/love. I'm loving the  warm and fuzzy November Thankfulness Campaign bandwagon, and thanks to Facebook, I got to cook in my dream kitchen this past week. I am a member of this great group of 900 called What's for Dinner, a page where members simply post what they are cooking up each day. It's a simple way to inspire each other through food, and it is awesome.

Talking with my hands much?
Recently the group's organizer tossed around the idea of a cooking demo night, where members could get together to meet in person and share some recipes. Of course I wanted in, since I pretend I am on a cooking show in my own kitchen most days anyway. I didn't realize when I volunteered that I would have to cook in front of 30 people. Talk about performance anxiety. Luckily, I got to be last of the 4 cooks, so by the time I had to demonstrate my recipe, everyone was half in the bag and chatting up a storm. The glasses of wine I had already consumed didn't hurt either. Phew!

I decided to make an Autumn Harvest Soup, full of butternut squash, apples, onions, roasted garlic, and topped with creme fraiche. It's one of my favorites, and perfect for Thanksgiving. You can dress it up with crispy sage leaves and frizzled onions for a fancy dinner, or keep it simple for a weeknight meal. It comes together really quickly, and is a go-to on my holiday menu. The recipe is below, and I will add the recipes for the other dishes from the night as I make them!

The other ladies in the group made some crazy amazing dishes. First up was Sara Van Goor's Pumpkin lasagna, which was off the chizz-ain. No joke. Prosciutto, parmesan, pumpkin, and a smooth and decadent bechamel all blended together into a gooey flavor bomb. Everyone wanted seconds. Now I just have to figure out how to make it all in advance and drive it down to North Carolina for my Friendsgiving:) Doesn't she look like she's all ready for Food Network?

Next was Marcella Simon Vander Eems who made Wonton Cups Three Ways. I was so glad to learn that you can bake wonton wrappers and keep them in an air-tight container for days. I have never made them for appetizers, but they can be so quick with just a bit of advanced prepartion! Marcella made three different fillings: a five spiced chicken salad with citrus and cilantro, a fall fruits blend with blue cheese, and a shrimp with hoisin sauce. I will never buy hoisin at my supermarket again after tasting the one Marcella used! It was a bit richer and saltier, and nothing like the jammy flavor of what I have been buying!

The third cook was Melissa Caminiti Clare, who is also a blogger. Please go visit her at I Was Born to Cook and check out some of her amazing recipes! She made her mother's stuffing recipe, which was loaded with surprises. I'm no stranger to adding dried fruits to stuffing, but Panattone? Never. The idea of adding cake to stuffing is pretty much the best idea anyone ever had. Paired with roasted chestnuts and pork sausage, it was incredible. Moist, a touch sweet, and deliciously unexpected. I will definitely be making it myself! I got lucky and snagged a little bag of leftover stuffing to take home in my purse. I did feel a bit like the old ladies who frequented Chelo's on Sunday afternoons, but I didn't care. It was that good. I made a huge Thanksgiving sandwich the next day and refused to share any of it with Jude. Mean mama.

It was so much fun meeting all of these women and the 20 something others who came to hang out with us. I still can't believe that our host let us all in to take over her gorgeous kitchen for the night! If I had a kitchen like hers, there may not be room for anyone else to cook in it! I would probably sleep in the farm sink. 


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had a blast! Any chance we can get the lasagna recipe??.

Joanna said...

I am going to do a post on each recipe individually, so they get the attention they deserve:)The lasagna is now on my Thanksgiving menu, so look for it to be posted the week before!

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to it!!! Thanks!