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New Years’ Eve: Late night craziness and dips!

January 2, 2007

2007 good times

After a week of dry toast, nasty zinc tablets, and tussin, I was, thank buddha, feeling well enough to party, and cook stuff, on New Years’ Eve. Eunice and Christine threw a party so we wouldn’t have to hand out with the drunk kids at the JJ, for which we are all thankful. Good times were had by all, and the food was plentiful and totally awesome. Everyone brought a little something, and here, to make up for a week of silence and a cold stove from me, are pictures and good times galore. Mr. X and I brought along some Red Pepper Feta dip, a Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Tart, Bacon Wrapped Shrimp Skewers, and some bread or something, for which recipes or something approximating them follow. Sally forth, my good friends, and try to avoid the hangover most of us had the next day…

Red Pepper Feta Dip

This is a recipe I stole from an old issue on Bon Appetit. I made it once bfore, when Mr. X and I first started dating, but made it from jarred roasted red peppers, rather than roasting my own, and it wasn’t quite right. This time, I went for the roasting, and it was much better. I think it still needs a little tweaking, but it’s completely easy and worth playing with yourself, too.

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 c. feta cheese
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1/8 c. olive oil (I didn’t really measure, just poured some into the blender, but I used too much, so my guess is 1/8 c. would be good…)

Roasted the peppers is much easier than I anticipated, and sort of entertaining in its own way. I’ve read countless directives on roasting peppers, and it always sounded kind of complicated. And of course, watching the prep chefs at the Bella de-skin tons of roasted red peppers daily didn’t make it look very fun, either. But overall, it really wasn’t a bad project, and it made all the difference in the taste of the dip, so it’s worth doing it.

roasting red pepper

Yeah, you want to put the pepper right on the fire so they burn up. Use tongs to turn it, so that every side is blackened. It took longer than I expected, so give it about 10-15 minutes per pepper. Then put them in a paper bag and let them sit for about 5-10 minutes. Mr. X said this part wasn’t even necessary, so I think I left them in the bag for 2 minutes, total. It might have been a little easier to peel the skin if I’d left them longer, but I don’t really know.

Either way, when they’ve cooled off a bit, you can just use your hands and a knife to peel the skin, cut it into large-ish pieces, and de-seed it. Put the pepper pieces, the feta, and a clove or two of garlic, roughly cut, into a blender, and add the oil while it’s blending. Salt the dip to taste after it’s blended. Voila, fancy dip.

It ended up being more liquidy than I expected. If I perfect the recipe in the future, I will most certainly post it here.

I also put together an easy Caramelized Onion Mushroom tart that I think deceived people into thinking it was fancier than it was. That’s always fun.

Caramelized Onion Mushroom Tart

Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Tart

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 2 small onions
  • about 8 oz. baby bella mushrooms
  • butter (about 1/2 c. )
  • 1/4 c. of goat cheese
  • 3-4 sage leaves, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper

Puff pastry isn’t something I use often, but, like the red peppers, it was easier to deal with than I was expecting. Thaw it according to the package directions (about 40 minutes at room temperature), carefully unwrap it, and lay it flat on a baking sheet. I folded up the edges a little to make a crust, but that’s probably not necessary because it puffed up like nobody’s business.

Chop the onions (I tried to cut them into rings, but I’m not the greatest onion chopper). Melt about 4 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over low heat, then just toss in the onions, making sure as much of them are touching the pan as possible, and leave them alone. You’ll want to cook them for over half an hour at low heat, and probably only stir them a few times, so they get all brown and nearly crispy.

When the onions are about halfway done, melt another tablespoon or two of butter in another skillet, and add the chopped mushrooms. Similarly, you want to lay them in one layer in the bottom of the skillet, and leave them alone. Let the mushrooms cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring only once.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Then just layer the onions and mushrooms on the puff pastry sheet. Dot the top with goat cheese, and sprinkle the sage, and some salt and pepper, over the top, and bake for about 15 minutes. The edges will puff up a lot, which I guess it why, you know, it’s called puff pastry.

I’m going to go with the claim that the remnants of the evil cold are the source of my less-than-stellar writing today.

Mr. X made bacon-wrapped shrimp skewers, and sadly, I’m not 100% sure what he did with them, but they were good. He marinated the big shrimps in something that contained lime juice and and some other really good stuff. Then he par-cooked the bacon and cut each slice in half. Then he stuck skewers in the shrimps, and wrapped the bacon around them, and then he put them in a 500F oven for 15 minutes or something. Then we ate them and they were awesomely good. Too bad I don’t have a picture, but they were in my mouth before I had time to take a picture. That’s how good they were.

Eunice made amazing stuff like this:

endives with stuff

And this…

New Years’ Dips

…which is an edamame roasted garlic kind of yummy thing (that’s the Red Pepper Feta dip in the upper left corner). And she made an addictive artichoke heart spinach cheese dip, and someone brought an enormous meat and cheese platter, and Christine made all kinds of good cookies, and holy crap there was tons of good food. And drink. There was even dancing, and smooching, and a fall resulting in a head wound. Yeah, it was that kind of party.

We were all happy in the end though, and there is ample evidence of that:

good time girls

That would be me, in the middle. Happy New Year, all! Protect your livers.

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