Dinner Parties, Romanesco and MayoPosted: March 20, 2013
I love having people over for dinner. Especially now, when going out to a restaurant can be such a challenge. Plus, our toddler makes a huge mess at mealtimes. So, we have lots of good reasons to stay home and host a dinner party with friends.
A “dinner party” sounds far more organized and exciting than what I typically put together. Usually, I struggle to get my house cleaned up before the guests arrive. I’m lucky if all the food is served at the right temperature.
At these dinners, I like to try out new allergy-friendly recipes, and our guests often serve as my taste-testers—much to their dismay, I’m sure! If you’re nearby and reading this, watch out. You may be getting a dinner invitation soon…
Here’s the menu from our most recent dinner party:
- Hemp beer – Apparently this is a traditional Swiss beer from Appenzell. My husband made an online grocery-ordering mistake. It smells and tastes like the real thing. Never again!
- Unfiltered white wine – A specialty of the Swiss region where we live. Every year, it goes on sale the third Wednesday of January.
- Cornichons – A favorite of my oldest son.
- Naan – Made this with soy yogurt and vegetable-based margarine.
- Saag-Aloo with Roasted Gobi Curry – Made with cauliflower and romanesco, among other veggies. I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand, but it seemed to work.
- Grapefruit Mint Salad – Thanks to another Suisse-Romande food blogger!
- Chocolate Mayonnaise Bundt Cake – Taken from Minnesota’s own, Bundt Cake Bliss. I’ll send you the recipe, if you want to try it.
Discovering Romanesco and Rediscovering Mayo
Our wonderful farmers’ market is held outdoors year round, and as I’ve written before, I enjoy trying out new-to-me ingredients. One of my favorites lately has been romanesco—that strangely beautiful veggie somewhere between cauliflower and broccoli. I never cooked with romanesco in the United States, but we’ve had it several times here in Switzerland. I was looking for a different way to prepare it—other than just roasting it with olive oil—and coincidentally, my oldest son and I came across a BBC program, Hairy Bikers, where they were using it in a curry. So, for our dinner party, I tried out their recipe and plan to make it again.
In addition to my fruit and veggie discoveries at the farmers’ market, I’ve been rediscovering familiar ingredients in new allergy-friendly forms, such as soy yogurt and vegetable-based mayo. Coop has a whole “Free From” line of products, and their mayo is sans eggs, as well as celery and mustard.
My husband vehemently dislikes mayo, but even he will admit that my two recent mayo dishes were good: the Chocolate Mayo Bundt Cake, as described above, and Curried Chicken Salad, as shown below. The recipes are easy and not particularly fancy, but they taste great and are dairy/egg/nut-free.
Super Quick: Curried Chicken Salad
I made several revisions to the Curried Chicken Salad recipe from the The All New All Purpose: Joy of Cooking (1997). It’s not terribly unusual or original, but for me, the sweet-savory mix is very satisfying. I serve it over lettuce or on whole wheat bread or crackers. And, it’s a good make-ahead recipe (I prepared today’s during naptime) and a quick way to use up leftover chicken.
Serves 2-4 people
About 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded
1/2 cup egg-free mayonnaise
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds OR “grains de courges,” toasted
1/4 cup golden raisins
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
About 1-2 green onions OR 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
1. Toss the pumpkin seeds in a small skillet over high heat. They can burn quickly, so keep ‘em moving. Remove from heat not long after you smell the aroma and hear the crackling of toasted seeds (and before they start on fire!).
2. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until well-blended.
3. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to let the flavors blend and serve.
Easter is coming up. I’m looking for traditional Swiss recipes that I can make allergy-friendly. And, if you know of any good local sources of dairy/egg/nut-free Easter candy, please let me know. Many thanks!