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Last night's Recession Recipes party was a blast! I proposed to Foodbuzz.com that I do a bunch of recipes that were wallet-friendly without tasting like it. I was even more delighted when FreshDirect.com put nearly half of my needed ingredients on sale---serendipitous savings!!! I made homemade salsa, black bean salsa, white bean dip, fajitas, pork medallions, and cappuccino panna cottas (my first try)! The real star of the show, however, was the asparagus gruyere tart. I found the recipe a few months ago in a Martha Stewart email and filed it away for future use.
As the tart was almost finished, I stepped outside with the BF to make sure his parking spot was legit (it was). While I was gone, my fabulous friends made sure the tart came out of the oven at exactly the right time. They were also lovely enough to help me eat it all. I should have made two of these! The recession-recipe part was even moreso, as FreshDirect.com had asparagus on sale this week--woo hoo! The tart looks quite impressive, but is sooo easy to put together. You bake the puff pastry a bit, add the cheese & asparagus, a splashing of olive oil, salt and pepper, cook another 20 min, and ta-daaaaah!
I made sure to bring some pickled garlic from Sahadi's (post coming later this week), which is an addictive snack I discovered through meeting Yoga Jen! It's not at all garlicky--it's more pickly. The garlic is crunchy and salty--it WON'T give you garlic breath, and you can eat all you want and not wake up the next day reeking of garlic. I think we probably all knocked about 20 points off our cholesterol just by popping a few of these babies. ;)
I also made fajitas, using London broil, an exceptionally affordable cut of meat that is also quite tasty. I coated it in a dry rub of chili powder, black pepper, ground mustard, paprika, and a smattering of red pepper flakes. I cooked the meat earlier in the day (about 6 minutes on each side under the broiler) so I wouldn't have to spend too much time in the kitchen when my friends were here. Once it was time for fajitas, I sautéed the onions and peppers (which cost about 2 bucks), warmed up the meat, warmed up the tortillas, and served the fixins! This went pretty quickly, too.
Earlier this week, I used about 2 dollars' worth of fresh watermelon and canteloupe to infuse a cheap bottle of tequila (about 20 bucks). For the price of 3-4 drinks at a New York City bar, I had enough for about 5 times that! My friend Carlota was our bartender for the evening, and she kept the fresh and tart drinks flowing--we were quite happy! The watermelon gave it a fresh sweetness, and the infusing part couldn't have been easier! I definitely will be trying this again. To make the drinks even more fun, Carlota brought CRAZY STRAWS!!! Everyone had one, and it made the evening even more fun. We reminisced about how our parents used them to get us to drink our milk when we were younger (a feat even easier if said milk was chocolate!), and now, here we were, sipping grown-up drinks and still having fun.
I had a test run for the white bean dip earlier this week, but found the raw garlic was too sharp, so earlier in the day on Saturday, I tried my hand at roasting garlic for the first time (yeah, I took a lot of chances that day!) It came out beautifully (if a bit messily), and it really made all the difference in this dip. The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of the roasted garlic, but I used nearly the whole head of it! It's quite healthy for you, too, and as I had olive oil, lemon juice, and salt already on hand, the only out of pocket cost for me was 2 dollars for the cans of cannellini beans! CHEAP! TASTY! PERFECTION! That was all gone by night's end, too.
I made the black bean dip the day before, as that needs an overnight chill to really get kicking. 2 cans of black beans (99 cents each), some canned corn (1.29), a .75 cent red onion, and a healthy helping of freshly-squeezed lime juice are the main components of this tasty dish, which was even more scrumptious this morning as leftovers for breakfast.
The only time I really spent in the kitchen while the guests were here was as I made the pork medallions. I got enough pork for a CROWD for 8.70 (another amazing FreshDirect deal this week). Let me repeat that: fresh, succulent pork medallions for UNDER TEN DOLLARS! I only used about half, so I served six people for about 5 bucks. Awesome. I was catching up with my friend Yoga Jen while I sautéed the meat, and I was so caught up in our conversation that I forgot to add the mushrooms! Regardless, the shallots, red wine sauce, and pork all worked together quite nicely. And I have sooo many leftovers. The unused pork is going in the freezer for future meals.
I hope my friends had as much fun as I did last night. I had friends from different areas of my life gelling with others, and we seemed to be mixing quite well. We were laughing, eating, taking pictures of us laughing and eating (thought not everyone approved their photos for blog use, a right which I fully respect!), and before I knew it, the night was over and everyone left stuffed. That meant my work was done. ;) People didn't even have room for my panna cottas, but I gave one a try and HA! I did it!! I used a recipe I saw earlier this week on Brian Boitano's new cooking show. I can't believe I pulled these off on my very first try! The coffee flavor was strong but not overpowering, and they were sweet but not too sweet. I have a few leftover panna cottas in the fridge, and they definitely won't last long!
And I can't forget what the BF brought: a perfect summery end to the night: a summer fruit tart! For the price of two desserts at your average restaurant (15 dollars), he brought enough tart for everyone! The fruit was fresh and flavorful, and the custard wasn't too sweet--this tart was a winner! Holly P was also a photographer/videographer for the evening: she captured a clip of me using my awesome Shun Santoku knife to cut a slice of tart before she left! (my don't discriminate quote was referring to how she shouldn't have to choose one dessert over another!)
Thanks again to everyone for coming out on that hot, humid August night, and helping me eat the fruits of my (money-saving) labor! Having company is always fun, and it was great to have a night in without breaking the bank. Just because we're all pinching pennies these days doesn't mean we have to live on bland, boring food! You can eat good, healthy, delicious food, and our Recession Recipes night proved it! I'm quite proud of myself for trying new things and succeeding, and quite blessed to have great friends who came out and encouraged me to go for it! Thanks also to Foodbuzz.com for selecting my proposal!!
White bean dip
Black bean salsa (I didn't use avocado or red wine vinegar)
Cappuccino Panna Cotta
Pork Medallions (instead of vinegar and cherries, I used red wine..and forgot the mushrooms!)