The best meals are often the ones you make yourself (or with some help from friends). This past Thursday, I did just that and joined my friends Leigh, Lily, Jen, and Beal for a homemade feast.
The idea started when Jen posted my Facebook wall about a recipe Leigh had designed. Within minutes, we had made our plan to cook on Thursday at 7:30 (for the entire Facebook world to see nonetheless.) Throughout the week, we perused recipes and came up with the ideas for our meal: Honey, Lime, Sriracha Brussel Sprouts, Roasted Kale Chips, and two pizzas, one with prosciutto and arugula and the other Thai chicken.
The night started with some shopping at Whole Foods to make sure we had everything we needed. Once we got to the kitchen it was time for business. While Leigh and Lily prepared peanut sauce for the Thai Chicken (peanut butter, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, red wine vinegar), I sliced the bottoms off the brussel sprouts, whisked together a marinade of lemon (we forgot limes), honey and Sriracha, and combined the two. They were then laid out on a baking sheet and placed in the oven for 20-30 minutes until cooked.
The next vegetable on the agenda was kale (one of the healthiest and most versatile green leafy vegetables out there. Kale works great in smoothies, tastes great sauteed with some onions and raisins, and provides a great alternative to regular lettuce in a salad. We chose to simply rub it down with some olive oil, salt, and paper and throw it in the oven and have some delicious Kale Chips. After 15 minutes in the oven, they were ready to come out. We sprinkled some freshly shaved parmigiano reggiano on them and had a great snack while cooked and side dish for our pizzas.
Chef Leigh (follow her at kittykatzkitchen.com) took care of the pizzas. The biggest challenge we had in the kitchen the whole night was rolling out the dough for the pizza (we chose to buy the dough rather than make it). After a few minutes, some rolling pins, and some pulling, molding and aggravating, we threw the pizza dough in the oven for a few minutes on its own to pre-bake it. When ready, we took the dough out and covered each differently. For one, we lathered on some tomato sauce, freshly sliced beefsteak tomatos, and fresh mozzarella (the arugula and proscuitto are not added until the end when the pie is nearly done). The other got a light layer of peanut sauce and think layer of chicken topped with carrots, peanuts, and shallots. After another quick turn in the oven, the pizza was done. One kitchen adventure later we had our meal.
We each sat down and wined and dined with our homemade meal. Each dish brought something different to the table: the brussel sprouts had some nice citrus with a kick, the kale brought a crunch, the arugula/prosciutto pizza gave us some peppery greens and saltiness and the Thai chicken provided savory sweetness. We are all set to go out after and find a different type of New Orleans adventure, but when Leigh offered to make her brownie souffle, it was decided this night was about food and conversation. Nothing else was necessary.
I don’t know how she did, but Leigh’s brownie souffle capped off a great night. Rich, chocolatey, lightly whipped, soft-as-a-cloud-like goodness with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top. Here’s to her!
Night’s in the kitchen make great alternatives to nights out on the town. If you have wine, food, and good company, there is not much else you can ask for!