Party Food

Sunday, August 16, 2009

We had our annual board retreat for The Scrap Exchange on Saturday, and because of my weird aversion to potluck, I offered to make lunch again this year. Last year the food was great but I made way too much of it — I was eating leftovers for a solid week. This year I did a much better job. Less is enough.

I promised my fellow board members I’d post recipes, so here they are.

These recipes are all good, and two out of three are cheap. So you can spend the money you save on the first two on the cookies.

Thanks to my friend Jill for the fabulous sesame noodle recipe. I don’t know who Deb is but she gets a gold star from me. This recipe is killer good and incredibly cheap and easy. I actually make a modified version of it, but I haven’t nailed down the details yet so I’m going to post the original.

[In case you’re wondering… My main change is I use a toasted sesame oil (rather than sesame oil) in a much smaller amount, and add more tahini to make up for any sesame flavor that’s lost from cutting back on the oil. This last time, I added a little bit of a canola oil to get the volume and texture right. I’m still working out how much tahini and how much canola oil I should use (or if I should add or substitute something else). This weekend’s wasn’t quite right. But everyone ate it anyway, and I managed to refrain from telling everyone what was actually wrong with everything I made when they told me it was good. I’m getting better.]

Once I get everything figured out with the revised recipe, I’ll post the final, but in the meantime here’s the original recipe. Thanks Jill (and Deb!).

Deb’s Cold Sesame Noodles

1 cup soy sauce
1 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup wine vinegar
1/4 cup balsalmic vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
3 cloves garlic – crushed
1 Tbsp ginger – grated
1 Tbsp sesame paste (tahini)
2 lbs pasta – linguini or spaghetti
1/2 cup sesame seeds – toasted
1 bunch scallions – sliced thin

– Cook pasta
– Mix all ingredients except sesame seeds and scallions – Drain pasta – don’t rinse
– Add hot pasta to marinade and let sit overnight in fridge – Add sesame seeds and scallions just before serving

Note that this version of the recipe makes a GIANT amount. For this weekend, I cut it in half  and cooked about 20 oz of pasta (1 full package plus about a quarter of another package) and had exactly the right amount for lunch for 10 people plus a care package of 1-2 servings for a friend who loves this recipe.

When I’m making this for myself (not for a party) I do about a quarter of the recipe, so the final revised version I put up will be to go with about 8 ounces of pasta.

The other two recipes come from The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook edited by Michael Bauer and Fran Irwin, which is a really nice cookbook my aunt and uncle gave me for Christmas a bunch of years ago.

The first is a simple summer salad. I was going to do a cucumber salad but decided this one looked better.

Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Salad
from Brad Levy of Firefly Restaurant

4 medium zucchini, preferably 2 green and 2 golden
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
4 Tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Chinese chile paste with garlic
1 Tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 small carrot
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

Trim the zucchini, cut in half lenghtwise, then cut into 1/16-inch-thick slices on a 45-degree angle. Combine the zucchini, 1/4 cup of the vinegar, 2 tablespoons of the sugar and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a bowl. Toss well and let stand at least 1 hour.

Drain the zucchini well. Add the remaining 1/4 cup vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt, the chile paste and cilantro; mix well.

Peel the carrot, cut in half lengthwise, then slice as thinly as possible on a 45-degree angle. Blanch the carrot slices in boiling water for 10 seconds, then transfer to ice water to stop the cooking. Drain, pat dry and add to the zucchini. Add the onion and let stand 30 minutes before serving.

Serves 6 to 8

And the second is I think the first Marion Cunningham recipe I made. These cookies are really amazing, but at $8+/lb bulk in the grocery aisle and $12+/lb bulk in the spices aisle, crystallized ginger is not a bargain item. Plus the cornflakes adds some cost, especially if you wouldn’t normally eat cornflakes. But worth it — these are GOOD!!

Ginger Jack Cookies

1-1/4 cups vegetable shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups cornflakes
1 cup uncooked oatmeal [rolled oats]
1-1/4 cups finely chopped candied (crystallized) ginger [approx 4.5 oz.]

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheets.

Put the shortening into a mixing bowl and, using the back of a large spoon [or an electric mixer] cream it around the sides of the bowl. Slowly add both sugars and continue to cream and blend until the mixture is smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; mix with a fork until mixed. Add to the creamed mixture and beat until thoroughly mixed. Add the cornflakes, oats, and ginger. Mix well.

Drop by teaspoonfuls 1-1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake about 8 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are lightly golden. Transfer the cookies to racks to cool.

Store or freeze in airtight plastic bags.

Yields about 7 dozen 2-inch-diameter cookies.

6 Responses to “Party Food”

  1. megan Says:

    Thank you thank you!

  2. […] Party Food « Less Is Enough By lessisenough These cookies are really amazing, but at $8+/lb bulk in the grocery aisle and $12+/lb bulk in the spices aisle, crystallized ginger is not a bargain item. Plus the cornflakes adds some cost, especially if you wouldn't normally eat … Less Is Enough – […]

  3. megan Says:

    Thank you thank you!
    Sorry, forgot to add great post! Can’t wait to see your next post!

  4. Sharon Says:

    Here’s a related project:
    20 days for $20.09

  5. Ellen Says:

    Okay, I don’t know where to email you directly, but there are a bunch of recipes online to make your own crystallized ginger from fresh (cheap) ginger. I have used one of them, can’t remember which but it would have been an easy one cuz I’m a lazy dog…. It was FAB-U-LOUS, cheap, and lasted quite a while in the cabinet….Check ’em out!

  6. lessisenough Says:

    Ginger root is super cheap, and every time I spend $12/lb for crystallized ginger I think that there must be a way to do that at home. I thought there might be something in the Tightwad Gazette and I checked the index but didn’t see anything (which doesn’t mean there isn’t anything there, that book has the worst index ever). I will look online and see what I can figure out — and do a post about how it turned out.

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