(More on this photo later!)
It's really no secret that I love spicy food. I also love pickled foods too but I'll save that for another entry entirely.
Luckily I'd dating someone who also likes her food spicy too. The first time we ever met, I introduced her to a little friend of mine, I like to call Green Papaya Salad. Yeah, I really like to put it out there when first meeting anyone...if you can't take the heat, well, we might not be well suited for each other. Thankfully, she was able to take the heat and then some; I kinda love her for it.
Another joy we've discovered is our ability to host small dinner parties and invite our friends over to dine with us. Lately, it's been mostly her friends (you guys need to represent already!). It's a great excuse for us to spend a leisurely day together. In the afternoon we try and get started on the dinner and sometime we fall really behind. I've had to learn to go with the flow more when I feel like we fall behind in our prep. She has to deal with another cook in the kitchen with her. And we manage. But more than managing we also have a really great time.
And this particular evening E wanted to make lasagna. I know she doesn't care much for ricotta so I asked what she was going to use instead. She replied, "well goat cheese, of course". Did I mention how much I love this woman?
E also decided she wanted to make the pasta yet again. Simple but time consuming indeed. I was actually worried we wouldn't have enough food. When I mentioned this concern, she reassured me that over 3lbs of beef, veal and lamb ground meat mixture would be enough. I let her do her thing and I did mine. I decided I wanted to make a Kentucky Derby pie. I had watched an episode of Martha Stewart and it was all about the Kentucky Derby and I watch her make this pie. I found a recipe on the front web page of Saveur and used that. I was delighted that it called for bourbon. I don't really drink a lot but I really do like the flavor that various liquors and distilled stuff impart on food.
When the guests arrive. We usually start with cocktails and cheese. And depending on how far along dinner is finished, we move into a meal. I'm a big believer in salad with dinner. I was raised with a mom who always served a fresh vegetable salad with every supper. It was just my family's way. So salad is always offered, along with bread and dessert (of course!).
And, of course, the star of the show:
It was mammoth. This picture really doesn't do it justice in terms of size (that pan was deep). But I think the picture does capture the general yumminess of the situation quite nicely. E had not only used goat cheese in place of ricotta but, instead of the usual chopped spinach, she used kale. And it was spicy too! I think that one of the things that lasagna always misses is a little punch of spice. It's nice and comforting with pasta layers and cheese and meat but a little zing would be nice. I love that E likes her food spiced well and spiced well kinda on the spicy side. The lasagna was kinda amazing. It was tangy, spicy and the kale gave it a different texture profile. The homemade pasta was a bit thicker than I would have liked but over the course of the week (there were ALOT of leftovers even though everyone who came was stuffed), the pasta really loosened up and picked up more of the flavors of the sauce. It made for crave worthy lunches and dinners for me for an entire week!
My pie was a lot more simple:
Well, partially because I cheated and bought a frozen pie crust (please don't revoke my Daring Baker badge!!!) due to our time constraints. But pie is basically a pecan and chocolate chip cookie in a pie crust. Ridiculously easy, it came together in a matter of 10 minutes. How'd it taste? It was okay. I really liked the bourbon flavor...maybe I was a wino in a former life? However, it wasn't really a show stopper which was okay because it wasn't like I toil forever over this pie. But the biggest surprise for me was how decent the crust was. I was shocked that a frozen pie crust was actually worth eating. It was adequately flaky (not super) and buttery. I liked the crust. But I've been dying to make my Mom's crust on a rhubarb pie but sadly, I've hardly seen any this season.
And as a random aside, I wanted to post this picture of friend Cris's shirt:
Her head is purposefully cut out because she didn't want her face in the picture (Cris is a really hot chick just a little FYI). Anyway, her shirt is a "peace of toast". Hahahaa, how awesome in that? Well, sorta keeping with the subject title on this entry, this picture was taken during lunch at Mary Chungs in Cambridge and let me tell you, their food is loaded with hot! I've always loved Mary Chungs and even now just writing about it is making me crave some dun dun noodles. Yum. I wrote a review of them on yelp so I won't repeat it here. If you feel like seeing it, go to yelp and type in Mary Chung for Boston as your city.