Saturday Post: Food for Friends

by Chelle


Seattle

Dinners are so fun and I love them! However as I was trying to figure that out this week I found a beautiful recipe for lemon cake and it sounded so good! So here goes! Oh and here are pictures from my brainstorming session! 

Did you know lemons are a winter fruit. I always associated them with summer- lemonade. Lies! A lovely friend leant me this book and I have had so much fun looking at the pictures and brainstorming what to make. That's where I found the idea for Lemon Cake. I also think it'd be easy to gluten free this! Oh and why cake? I think it's so fun to stop by a friends house spur of the moment and sit and chat over a cup of coffee... in my dream world I would always have fresh cookies or cakes ready to go with the coffee. If you're at all like me you may be waiting for life to settle down and get sorted out before you start on those dreams. I don't know if it ever does. So in the mean time stop dreaming and bake the cake! 

Today was a bit all over the place so I ended up baking the cake mid morning and then sitting down with the folks to test it before heading out to work this afternoon. It was a fun little break in the day. Again- perhaps not planned, but perfect for the moment.

For the cake:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • grated zest of two lemons
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds 
  • 2 cups AP flour sifted

Icing:

  • juice of 1 lemon 
  • 1 1/4 cups icing sugar

What to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and line a 10 inch cake pan with grease proof paper on the bottom and butter on the sides 
  2. Beat the butter and castor sugar until light and creamy 
  3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition
  4. Add vanilla
  5. Mix together the baking powder, salt, and ground almonds and carefully fold into the mixture with the flour
  6. Pour into cake pan and bake for 35 minutes 

Chicago

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So we decided to do our Saturday post on easy dinner (actually more food) ideas to serve to company. It is now 11 pm Friday night and our dinner guest just left so now I can write my post...because, my being me, I did not have this planned out till we decided to invite our neighbor over for dinner tonight around six. No, she did not arrive at six, that is when we invited her...also I did not start making this recipe or have any real idea of what I would make till after she arrived... some time after six. But I figure that's really in keeping with the spirit of this post. We want to be able to spontaneously invite and include others into our everyday life and how better do that than eat together?? I know hospitality is one of the most basic Christian ideas but a friend of mine once mentioned that we should live our lives in such a way that people say, "who wouldn't want to be a Christian?!" He followed up by saying eating is something we do day in and day out. It is so simple and yet so warm and welcoming. You have to do it anyways so why not do it with others. In the frigidness of Chicago winters (that and the possibility of being shot in our neighborhood) that can be easier said than done, but we are fortunate enough to have one of our closest friends live right next door! So yup, she came to dinner.

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I did think ahead enough to take a picture of the ingredients before the light disappeared, so that was impressive for me. But to be honest these were just the ingredients I had left at the end of my week. We're going grocery shopping tomorrow. The spring onions are from a few weeks ago, if you put them in a jar with about an inch of water than they will just keep growing and growing... its amazing!

Potato Soup

  • 15-20 small yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 6-10 shoots of spring onion (I just used however many were long enough on my plant)
  • a bunch of Italian Parsley (chopped)
  • a sprig or two of thyme leaves
  • 2 sprigs of sage (chopped)
  • Almond milk (measurements to follow) 
  • A generous dollop of Earth Balance
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • a splash of white balsamic vinegar (or lemon juice...again, to taste... you have to taste this as you go...very important!)
  • 4-5 tablespoons Pecorino Romano (to taste)
  • 3-4 tablespoons Manchega cheese (to taste)

Peel your potatoes, if you have more than one paring knife put your guests and/or man to work at this too (it helps if you give them a G&T or glass of wine first!). Then boil potatoes with garlic cloves. While these are boiling you can be chopping the herbs and grating the cheeses. Once boiled (if they can be broken easily with a wooden spoon they are perfect) drain the potatoes. I fished out the garlic cloves because they are not good for a low FODMAP diet but you don't have to. Return the potatoes to your dutch oven or soup pot of choice then mash them thoroughly. Then add the dollop of Earth Balance and enough almond milk to make them soupy instead of "mashed potatoey". You will want the texture to be the creaminess right before you get brothy-ness (that's probably confusing, sorry...).  Now add the rest of the ingredients and let simmer on the lowest heat possible (stir often, it will stick otherwise). 

I served meatballs on the side because I was super hungry and I'm super into meatballs right now.

Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup almond meal (I usually toast two heels of Udi's bread doused in olive oil and salt but I'm avoiding straight up grains as of tomorrow so started tonight... sort of)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • a bunch of chopped parsley
  • a few tablespoons grated Romano cheese
  • Salt

Mix all these ingredients together, while heating some olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Then roll into balls (I recommend taking off all rings, cause its kinda gross), roll balls in rice flour then plop them into the skillet! Turn so all sides get nice and crunchy. 

I served the meatballs on a plate next to the soup but by the end of dinner we all ended up mixing them both together. So delectable!

I know these both look like they have a lot of ingredients but they are actually really simple to throw together with guests just sitting around the table chatting. Just give them some drinks and some nuts or cheese to munch on and make sure you have comfortable chairs around your kitchen table and you're set!