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Like Miss B and her not-baked scallops, I made this delectable treat for Deanna’s birthday dinner last week.
I should actually tell you a little something about that dinner. Deanna said, “for my birthday, I would like to have some of my close friends over and have a simple dinner”. Emphasis on the word “SIMPLE”, she reminded us several times over the following weeks. We were so proud of ourselves for paring down our 5-course extravaganza into only 2. Well, okay 4 including cheese and dessert, but those don’t really count, do they?
The result was (despite Dea’s increasingly desperate—though gentle—admonishments) decidedly un-simple. Miss B and I apparently have absolutely no clue how to do simple. It’s not in our genetic makeup.
The day started beautifully. It has absolutely no business being that beautifully sunny in Vancouver / Victoria at the beginning of March, but we were not complaining! We hitched a ride with the beautiful Sarah (and her little dog too. Sorry, random Wizard of Oz reference) over to Victoria.
We dropped the slightly suffering (read: hung over) Jim off at Dea’s for a nap, then Dea, Sarah (and Suzie) and I headed straight for Ottavio (do not pass go, do not collect $200), where we ate cheese and drank wine in the sunshine (okay, Deanna drank a beer. Evs). Jumpy claps! Sarah even got to have her brioche, which she mentioned at least 6 times on the ferry over. While we sat (did I mention?) in the sunshine.
Then we drove hither and yon, all over Victoria, assembling ingredients for Dea’s simple birthday dinner. My contribution was going to be pappardelle with browned butter, sage, black olive paste and pine-nuts. Except that Dea can’t have eggs, so we were in search of an eggless fresh pasta (in keeping with the “simple” theme I was not to make my own pasta dough). We finally settled on dried pasta di semola di grano duro, imported straight from rustichella d’abruzzo in Italy. At least, I think that’s what the package says.
Oh, and the coconut torte. I could only find one coconut torte recipe on all of the internet. And I wasn’t making it. It looked decidedly yucky (no offence, Coco Lopez). I was trying, actually, to come up with something Dea could eat. I proposed a crumb crust and then some sort of coconut milk / gelatine filling spiked with toasted coconut. Dea said, “um, hairy chunky pudding? No.” Huh. Good point.
I settled on this recipe. Instead of hazelnuts, I toasted 1 cup of unsweetened coconut in the oven. Then I food processed the coconut until it was a fine toasted coconut crumb. Then I proceeded with the recipe as directed. Well, okay I pammed the springform pan instead of buttering/flouring it. I was feeling lazy
It was delicious. We served it with some whipped cream. Unlike B, I did not whip the cream by hand.
Oh, and the pasta? An almost-disaster. I’m a firm believer in salting the hell out of the pasta water. Well. Combined with the olive paste, this turned into a salty nightmare. I almost threw it out, when B came up with a brilliant solution: rinse the sauce off of half of the pasta and then mix it all together again. In my opinion, it was still too salty. But everyone at the party was too polite to say so. It’s pictured under the scallops in B’s post if you want to take a look.
P.S. Sorry about the stove, Dea. Although I will say I think it was mostly B’s fault (ouch! I’m throwing B under a bus even after she rescued the pasta!)