Thursday, January 29, 2009

Feeding 20 people for $30, or "I'm a recession rockstar"

Last night was my week to help provide dinner for the Leadership Development group at Mount Zion, our synagogue. With the ever-present economic pressures, we decided we would opt for potluck-style dinner instead of having them catered. As a personal challenge to myself, my goal was to make an amazing meal for as little as possible. Not only that, but it had to be semi-kosher (no meat with cheese), and since Howie, one of my sous-chefs, is vegetarian, that was a requirement as well. How's this for exceeding expectations? $30.94 for ~17 people, or roughly $1.50/person. *RECESSION ROCKSTAR* Just sayin'. I also had some of my leftover chocolate-toffee cookies and white chocolate-lemon cookies from the holidays (from frozen logs -- I'm not serving month-old cookies, I promise!)

There are no pictures of this deliciousness, because it was eaten too quickly. Take that as a sign and run to your kitchen and get a-cookin'. Hoping to have pictures in the near future, since I know I'll be making all of this again very soon. Want to come over for dinner?

Eggplant and golden squash tagine with chickpeas and raisins

From William-Sonoma's Eat Well
Serves: 4 (multiplies well)
1 1/2 lbs butternut squash
1 lb slender eggplant
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp ras el hanout (sub equal parts ground cumin and ground coriander)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 (15oz) can chickpeas, drained
1 1/2 C vegetable broth
*1/2 C orange juice
*zest of one orange
juice of one lemon + 1/2 tsp salt
salt and pepper to taste

1/2 C chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 C toasted sliced almonds
*1/2 C raisins or currants (original recipe called for 1/4 C)
(* items are additions/alterations I made to the original)

Peel and halve squash, scoop out seeds, and cut into 1-inch chunks. Trim eggplants and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks.
Heat oil in a large pot over mediumhigh heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in ras el hanout, turmeric, and 1/2 tsp salt; cook for 1 minute.
Add butternut squash, eggplant, chickpeas, broth, *orange juice, and *orange zest; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until squash and eggplant are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in additional salt and pepper to taste.
In a small bowl, mix parsley, almonds, and raisins. Stir 2/3 of parsley mixture into tagine. Sprinkle remaining parsley mixture over top and serve.
Top with harissa or any other spicy chili paste/sauce if you wish.
Serve with mushroom-herb couscous (or any kind of couscous you prefer)

Nutritional info (per serving; does not include couscous):
360 cal/14g protein/13g total fat/1.5g sat fat/15g fiber

Cold Wild Rice Confetti Salad
From Sara Rice
Serves: a ton (assume ~20 1-cup servings)
2 C wild rice
4 C vegetable broth/stock
1/4 dried apricots, diced
~8 dried black mission figs, diced
enough white wine to cover the apricots and figs in a small saucepan (or whatever liquid you choose to plump them with)
seeds from one pomegranate (~1 C)
6 green onions, chopped
6+ sweet peppers, diced
3 granny smith apples, diced
Any other colorful, crisp fruit or veggie would work well in addition to or instead of those included here.

Dressing Ingredients:
Inspired by 101 Cookbooks' Orange Pan-Glazed Tempeh recipe
1/2 C reserved wine from poaching
1 C orange juice
1 Tbsp minced ginger (I used the kind from a jar)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp garlic oil (or 1 Tbsp EVOO + 1 clove minced garlic)

Prepare wild rice. (Bring broth to a boil, add rice, reduce heat to simmer, cover, let cook for 40-60 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed. Drain.) Let cool.
Poach/plump apricots and figs - add wine, apricots, and figs to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Let simmer for ~10 minutes. Drain, reserving at least 1/2 C of the wine for the dressing. Set fruit aside.
Mix fruits and veggies into chilled rice.
Mix dressing ingredients together, blend well. Add enough dressing to the salad to coat (you shouldn't need all of it).

Nutritional info (per serving)
128 cal/4.3g protein/0.7g total fat/0g sat fat/3.2g fiber

Roasted vegetables

Serves: 16?
2 parsnips, peeled, chopped
6 carrots, chopped
3 sweet potatoes, chopped
2 white onions, cut in 1/8th sections
one head fennel, greens removed, chopped
1/4 C canola oil
salt and pepper to taste
couple Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare vegetables. Mix with 1/4 C canola or olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper. Line baking sheets with aluminum foil. Place vegetables on baking sheets in the oven. Cook for 30+ minutes until carrots are fork-tender, turning after 15 minutes. Finish with balsamic vinegar (you can add this before roasted too).

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