Last weekend was a rip-roaring good time, starting with a whole buncha Midwesterners descending from the sky and landing on the isle of Manhattan. Several of them (my most immediate of family members) stayed in Brooklyn, since it’s obviously much ( so much) better than any other place in this city. The visit was mostly based around the nuptials of my cousin Kevin to his brand, spankin’ new wife, Teresa, but we managed to have some fun of our own as well.

In celebration of their arrival, my husband and I spent a good chunk of time cooking up a bunch of recipes from this here blog to share with them. Unfortunately, our guests were two people down due to vertigo (nope, not the Hitchcock classic…for realsies this time) and we were forced to fill their spots with some fellow Park Slopians in order to prevent food wastage. (Plus, we really like these people.) We definitely missed my brother and his girlfriend who were stuck back in Minneapolis, sorting out his shaky shakes. Next time, guys! (And you’ll get your very own blog post about whatever I end up *cooking for you!)

Nom Nom Nom

The menu was perfectly paired with all kinds of wine and fun. We decided to keep things somewhat simple by serving up a baguette and ciabatta alongside several signature salads. Everything was made ahead of time, which made serving less stressful (and no ovens!)

Smashed Chickpea Sandwiches

Black Bean Confetti Salad

Aunt Stella’s Czechoslovakian Potato Salad

White Bean Roasted Red Pepper Dip

We also pulled out some new dishes to share: White Bean Tomato Salad and Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Blueberry and Raspberry Sauce. You can find both recipes below.

Love my family. Love my friends. Love Park Slope.

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White Bean Tomato Salad

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

8 oz fresh mozzarella, cubes

1 lb roma tomatoes, diced into about ½ inch cubes (try to get seeds/water out)

1 15-oz can white beans, drained and rinsed

Handful of slivered basil

¼ cup olive oil

3-4 tbsp red wine vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine tomatoes, beans, olive oil, basil and vinegar together in a bowl. Add mozzerella and salt/pepper to your liking. Serve with crusty bread or on its own.

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Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

3 cups heavy cream, or 2 cups heavy cream and 1 cup whole milk

¾ cup sugar

Pinch of salt

1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise

¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour 1 cup of the cream into a medium saucepan and add the sugar and salt. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the saucepan and add the pod to the pot. Warm over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.

Remove from the heat and add the remaining 1 cup cream and the milk) and the vanilla extract.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator. When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean and then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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Blueberry and Raspberry Sauce

2 cups fresh blueberries

¼ cups sugar

2 Tbsp water

1 cinnamon stick

1 cup fresh raspberries

Combine blueberries, sugar, water and cinnamon stick in heavy medium sauce pan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Then, increase heat and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 3 minutes.

Uncover and cook until berries look tender and saucy. This will take about another 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and gently stiry in raspberries. Chill until serving. (Can be made up to two days ahead of time.)

*sorry, Paul. No meat. Big feet.

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