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So on Saturday

So, on Saturday, Justin Ison and his girl Erin, and Mark DeJoy and his girl Missy came by our place for a cloudy day of Eastside Yuppie famland fun, which primarily consisted of petting pygmy goats and alpacas, a little bit of thrift store shopping and then a huge holy buttload of Mediterranean food and pumpkin banana bread. I also prepared some cocktails, two of which I'm slightly embarrassed to admit out loud that I got from the latest Martha Stewart Halloween issue, one I'm definitely embarrassed to admit I got from Emeril Lagasse, and a hot toddy of my own invention which I thought would be a nice thing to drink if the day got cold, but it didn't really, so I have quite a bit of bourbon whiskey in the house (or, since the party was four days ago, nowhere near as much bourbon whiskey left in the house as I had four days ago).

We sort of haphazardly arranged a theme around Mediterranean food, although our starter was actually a pumpkin-banana bread which I'd seen in an online recipe and had a hankering to try. We served it in, er, dippin' sticks with a small dish of apple butter (courtesy of our friends Josh and Tiff Kassel). The recipe comes directly from that invaluable resource,

Banana Pumpkin Bread
# 2 ripe bananas, mashed
# 2 eggs
# 1/3 cup vegetable oil
# 1 1/3 cups canned pumpkin puree
# 1/2 cup honey
# 1/2 cup white sugar
# 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
# 1 teaspoon baking powder
# 1 teaspoon baking soda
# 1/2 teaspoon salt
# 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
# 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

You do the mandatory mixing until you've got a decent batter and then bake it at 350 degrees - I did a double batch, and it took half an hour to bake six large cupcakes and about fifty minutes to bake a full sized loaf pan.

For our actual eats, we - on the spur of the moment - picked up six gyros from our nearest Gyro shop, which provides fantastic eats super-cheap - their lamb is very peppery, it's delicious. This was to go with the spanokopita which Kate made (I don't have the recipe) and some hummus and baba ganouj I made.

I use cookbook recipes for both of those things, with a couple of exceptions, particularly in regards to the hummus.

  • First off, a lot more olive oil than suggested. Every recipe I've ever tried uses only enough olive oil that the hummus ends up crumbly and dry, so I often double it if not more
  • Speaking of "not enough", I do not traffic with garlic measurements in recipe books; it's always "one clove" this and "two cloves" that. I understand the idea of having the gentle touch of flavor, but for god's sake this is a dip, let's go nuts. Whenever a recipe tells me "one clove of garlic", I translate that as "half a bulb".
  • Lastly, for the hummus, I make it a point to roast not only the garlic but the chickpeas. This probably lends a lot of reasons as to why mine comes out dry without enough olive oil in it, but the resulting smoky flavor is aces.

As far as goes the cocktails, they were:

A Hot Toddy which I'd planned on making and had made in the past with 1 ounce of bourbon whiskey, eight ounces of strong chai tea, a teaspoon of honey, a dash of nutmeg and steeped with a cinnamon stick. I'm sad we didn't get to this, but Winter is on its way ...

An Emeril Lagrasse Bloody Mary, which involved a premade mix of 1/4 cup lime juice, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 tbsp horseradish, 2 tbsp ginger, 2 tsp garlic, 1 tbsp Worchestshire sauce, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 pepper, then the usual mix of tomato juice and a small salad. In this case, it was hot pickled carrots and pickled okra, plus some white cucumber I'd pickled myself (with scotch bonnet peppers, and which I just remembered I have so as soon as I'm done typing this I'm gonna go get some for dinner).

Then the Martha Stewart recipes:

I hate to use this name, because it's so twee, but The Halloween Sunset, which was 3 oz tangerine juice, 1.5 ounces white rum and 3/4 ounces grenadine. This layered really beautifully and had a nice color as well as flavor.

Then The Black Lagoon. This one was two ounces of vodka, a cup of soda water and a teaspoon of lemon mixed with unnecessarily complex other ingredients. First off, I had to make a syrup out of two sprigs of rosemary, a lemon rind, and a cup each of water and sugar, strained to remove the solids. Then I had to make anise flavored ice cubes with black food coloring which, frankly, got everywhere. It looked pretty and tasted delicious, but it was a hassle and a goddamn half.

I'm going to make it a point to keep this syrup handy, but from here on out I'm just going to consolidate the process: Make the syrup with the rind of a large lemon, two sprigs rosemary, two cups of water, one cup of sugar, about a quarter cup of anise flavored extract. WHY DO THE WHOLE THING? It was insane and just made it take forever to make drinks and also it made a huge mess.

And there's the whole shmear! Thanks to snowmanJustin and famousmarkMark and their Livejournal-less ladies for coming over, it was a blast!