Experimental Entertaining

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Generally, when we have friends for dinner, I make something that I’ve made before. I don’t like to treat my guests as guinea pigs. Sometimes, you make dud dinners and I usually don’t like to risk it. Last Wednesday night, however, we decided to have dinner at our house at the last minute (5-4-Dinner) and decided to use completely new recipes.

I neither poisoned our friends nor did I put a strain on our relationships. Yea. In fact, we bonded over Cambodian Summer Rolls , as an appetizer, and Pan Fried Trout with Fresh Herb Salad and Roasted Cauliflower. For dessert, fresh berries with World Peace Cookies (o.k., I’ve made those before).

All three of the recipe links above are, in my opinion, close to flawless.

The first two come from Cooking Light magazine. I know. Light? Generally, I do cook healthy, but I don’t cook “light”. But, in the summer magazine clean-up, I ripped out a few recipes from issues of this magazine. Why did I have any issues of Cooking Light? Well, it all stems from the school fundraiser. Magazine sales. I hate those types of fundraisers and have decided to try to avoid letting our kids sell to friends or family. Instead, I buy myself magazines and send them to people as gifts. I thought I’d give Cooking Light a try, for the sake of the school.

Shrimp RollShrimp Roll PlatterShrimp Roll Prep

First, the Cambodian Summer Rolls. I am a big fan of Vietnamese Shrimp/Pork Salad Rolls and these looked very similar. The recipe includes Shrimp, Rice Noodles, Basil, Mint and Red Leaf Lettuce, wrapped, burrito style, in rice paper (that has been smeared with a smidge of Hoisin Sauce). Then, this roll is dipped in a sauce of low sodium soy sauce, water, lime juice, sugar, garlic, ginger, cilantro and chili paste.
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Taste Memory

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When I was a kid, not so long ago, my mother would always have the best dinner parties. My three siblings and I couldn’t wait to dig into the hors d’oeuvres that she would make. She has always been big on pre-meal meals. Most people would be stuffed before going in to dinner – then continue to unabashadly eat her delectable meals. My grandparents also had great little bites before a big meal. Typically smaller than my mom’s spread, their hors d’oeuvres were called “canapes” (can-uh-pays). One of my favorites was a cornichon wrapped in salami, held together by a toothpick, that my mother’s mother used to serve.

So, today, when L couldn’t figure out what she wanted as a snack, I looked around the counter and said, “I know the perfect snack for you. My mom used to make pizzas out of pita and everyone loved them!”

L said, “Pizzas?”

I said, “No, not the kind you are thinking of. No sauce.” I had made pizzas out of tiny pitas a couple of weeks ago and J thought they were fabulous, but L did not. “You’ll see. You’ll love them. I loved them.”

I haven’t had these little “pizzas” in more than 20 years. But, I still remember how good they were. Mom made them using this EXOTIC bread called “Sahara” bread. Pita, like we have in every market today, was not widely available and Sahara bread was one of the first commercially available, I think. Made by Thomas’s, and still around, it is a bit thicker and chewier than most pitas.

Mom cut each Sahara bread/pita into 2 halves and opened each pocket so that she had 4 pieces. Then, she buttered each piece lightly and toasted it in the oven. Once out of the oven, she sprinkled grated sharp cheddar on each piece, dusted it with some “fines herbes” seasoning and popped it back into the oven until the cheese was bubbly and the edges of the pita were nicely browned. Then, she cut each moon shaped piece into 4 pieces. Mom would even make these ahead, freeze them and re-warm them in a hot oven (if there were ever any missing….she never let on that she noticed that we would nab them occasionally). They taste good hot and at room temperature.

I just made these pizzas as a snack for L. She loved them, as I thought she would. I bit into one and was whisked back to the ’70s. They taste just as good as ever and I think I may serve them at a dinner party.

Retro is so hip.