Lordy it’s been busy around here.
We’ve hosted fun dinner parties with lots of tastes and textures involved.
I’ve been invited to other’s homes, too — like this feast my friend (and prolific cookbook writer, Ivy Manning) offered up to our book group.
It was a Middle Eastern feast with hummus and roasted carrots
and eggplant with pomegranate
and lentil soup and more.
Lots more going on around here. Oliver’s Constitution Team as well as his Mock Trial Team keeps winning competitions and as such they’re always on the lookout for homes that are willing to host these big groups as they prepare for the big days ahead.
As you’d expect, I love to cook big spreads and so I always seek these opportunities out.
So the past ten days there’s been a lot of food coming out of my kitchen.
I love using the vintage plastic doily you see above for decorating these muffins with a simple powdered sugar topping — they’re so pretty, don’t you think?
Muffins are wonderful because they are muss-proof and just the right size for an individual portion (although I did see some hungry souls take multiples).
Here’s another treat I made for a crowd this past week — Blackberry and Yogurt Muffins.
This comes from another recipe in my oft-used arsenal, and one of the Constitution coaches called this, still warm from baking, “one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.” (the recipe can be found here)
Me, I’m such a perfectionist that I wished that I’d thought of swirling the batter to give the finished product a lighter look (see how purply they turned out?)
but I have to admit, they were really yummy– especially with the glaze on top (confectioner’s sugar, almond extract, crushed blackberries and vanilla almond milk).
And as delicious as these two muffins were, I think I was even more bowled over by a recipe sent from my sister from The Silver Palate Cookbook (are you old enough to remember this book?).
I couldn’t find my book so she texted me over a screenshot of the Sour Cream Coffee Cake recipe she’d just used that morning to rave results.
I made a few slight modifications to the recipe.
I omitted the pecans (my kids don’t like nuts) and I cooked it in an enamel pan instead of a Bundt pan (once I find it I think I will make it again in that pan).
I also couldn’t imagine a coffee cake without a crumb topping so I added that on top because aren’t those golden little nuggets of crumbly goodness the best part, especially if iced oh-so-generously?
I cut it in thick little pieces and served with smoothies and lattes and a neighbor who snagged one of the last pieces proclaimed it the best crumb cake he’d ever had. High praise — and I know I will be making this recipe often (maybe also in small loaf pans?).
Oh, and I made these too one day: Sourdough Garlic and Sharp Cheddar Rolls.
I made the dough with a starter I got from Tabor Breads (regular readers will remember I profiled the owner and showed you the breadmaking class I took there) and the rolls were tangy, crunchy, cheesy, and so garlicky thanks to repeated swipes with melted garlic butter.
Lest you think that I only baked for these groups (and a needy neighbor), allow me to set the record straight.
There was a seven pound pork roast that became All Day Carnitas, and it was shared roundly.
Tender, crispy, and chewy, a pot of carnitas (cooked for 8 hours in a very low oven until crispy and fall-apart tender) allows you to go so many different ways come meal time.
You can make luscious rice bowls (the makings of which were dropped off to someone this week)
or you can add the meat to stews or soups, burritos or wraps or a pot of beans or even to a bubbly Italian tomato sauce for added unctuousness.
Oh, and this happened, too.
Who doesn’t love a platter of grilled cheeses?
This array fed a small crowd but there was no consensus on favorites. Some were Team Bacon, some Team Pesto and others yet liked the one with the French raspberry jam and Brie.
I think the key here is to use different kinds of cheeses (I alternately used sharp Cheddar, Fontina, Havarti and Brie) and brushing the outsides with garlic butter so that every single bite of that sandwich is crunchy and flavorful.
And because I’ve been cooking sooo much for others recently, I’ve been sure to treat myself as well.
Like with these fabulous cocktails
and Paadee Thai I enjoyed with my friend Mary Ann last night
before going out to hear Samin Nosrat (Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat) speak last night (incredibly moving and insightful!).
And ever since my Detox, I’ve been upping my juice and smoothie game.
Look at this little beauty I enjoyed yesterday afternoon.
(The smoothie gets its unreal color from Blue Majik spirulina added to frozen bananas and mango and almond milk. Thanks, Abby Bliss for the sample and inspiration!)
That’s it for now, but one last reminder.
MAKE THAT COFFEE CAKE!
It’ll have your family and friends smiling from ear-to-ear.