Sunday, November 7, 2010
Last night I had a small gathering for what will likely turn into a seasonal event. I hosted the first Fall Foods dinner. Although it was only last night, I am already looking forward to the Winter Foods dinner, which will be followed by the Spring Foods dinner! The Fall Foods dinner was a potluck that encouraged guests to bring, if possible, only something homemade and/or local. Pretty incredibly, we ended up with a wonderful spread. Everyone brought a dish and/or drink they were proud of, and there was a feeling of communal pride when the table was set with our fabulous looking handicrafts.
We started with a cheese plate, bread from the farmers market, and homemade hummus, along with pumpkin ale and red wine. The main course followed. It consisted of brussel sprout slaw with pancetta dressing, cassoulet, sweet and spicy carrots, beans and greens, salad with beets and goat cheese, cinnamon black rice with butternut squash and goat cheese, and mushroom lasagna (my contribution).
Even though we had eaten so much as the main part of the meal, dessert was phenomenal. One guest brought a gingerbread spice cake with not-too-sweet whipped cream, and another brought her mother's special recipe Linzer Torte. Wow. A feast of feasts. (Can't you see why I'm already looking forward to the next one?)
Last night wasn't just about good food though. It was about spending the night in a cozy apartment, catching up with old friends, reminiscing about college, and meeting and learning about new friends. By the end of the night, we were all stuffed. But I had a few moments of bliss, in which I felt really grateful to be a part of such an evening. A friend who has been living in Boston commented that I was making her miss New York enough to move back. It would be an understatement to say that the night was merely a Success. It was much more than that!
Below is the recipe, almost exactly from Ina Garten, for Mushroom Lasagna (the dish of which we have no leftovers!). I made the bechamel and cooked the mushrooms the night before, which made assembly much faster.
Make the bechamel the way Ina tells you to, even though it's not my top secret favorite way to make it. Pour into a container and set aside until it comes to room temp, then refrigerate.
1 1/2 lb portobello mushrooms, stems discarded, sliced into 1/4" thick strips
1 T olive oil
2 T butter
2 sprigs fresh thyme
In a large skillet, over medium flame, heat olive oil. When oil is hot, add mushrooms. Stir. Add butter and fresh thyme. Cook on medium heat, about 10 minutes, until liquid has been released and mushrooms are just done. Remove from heat and set aside.
Cook 1 package lasagna noodles al dente.
Grate 1 c parmesan cheese.
In the bottom of a large casserole dish, at least 12" long, 8" wide, spread a layer of bechamel. Layer noodles on top. Then layer more sauce, mushrooms, and grated cheese. Repeat twice more, starting with noodles. When done, place final layer of noodles on top, spread bechamel, and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 375 for 45 min covered, 15 min uncovered. Serve.