a few weeks ago, nathan was kind enough to host us for dinner. we’d been trying to for several months… maybe even 3 months. we bump into brandon pretty constantly because we live in the same neighborhood. sometimes, i can see him waiting for his bus at the stop in front of my house and i yell out my kitchen window at him. brian also works with him at a coffee shop in the east end. but that doesn’t really count as spending time with friends.. yelling out a window at them and seeing them at work. it always feels special when you get to chat over a glass of wine while you’re pouring chocolate chips into a mixing bowl. i secretly love it when dinner takes a little longer than you planned to finish. it gives you lots more time to sip on said wine and be merry with friends. this was one of those. we ended up robbing the refrigerator as i promised “just 5 or 10 more minutes, ok? let’s have another of glass of wine and some carrots with humus.” it was good catching up.
anyhow, brandon was in charge of the veg, i was in charge of main course and dessert. brandon has been honing his “dressing skills” lately, so i’m pleased to say that his salad was funky fresh.
brandon’s salad dressing:
“so, i use half of a small lime, about 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1-1.5 tablespoons of olive oil, a liberal dash of cayenne pepper. Black pepper and salt to taste. I’ve also been adding a small bloop of honey lately, to add a hint of sweetness.”
even though he uses 2 acids here (the vinegar and the lime), his dressing was great because of the added flavor of the cayenne. in the salad itself was red pepper, spinach, cranberries, goat cheese, carrot, and cucumber. quite summery.
i made spicy peanut chicken breast with a sauce that i bought at the market square farmer’s market (which is moving next week). i will have to find the name of this sauce and it’s maker, because it is delicious! i marinated boneless skinless chicken breast in the sauce for 3 hours or so, and i seasoned it with salt and pepper. i then roasted it in the oven for half an hour or so, and voila! it was delicious!
brandon is a vegetarian, so i made extra firm tofu for him in the same style as the chicken. i first pressed and drained 1 block of firm tofu for 3 hours or so. i am very particular about the manner in which i make tofu, and i believe that draining water out of it is the only way to ensure proper flavor absorption. otherwise, it will not soak up any flavoring at all, resembling the flavorless food it has a bad rep for. i rubbed this magical sauce all over the block, salt, and peppered it. i then threw it into a giant baggie and left it room temp for 3 hours.
i baked the tofu and the chicken at 375f. i’ve been reading a lot about conflicting oven temps for chicken breast, and here is what i’ve found thus far: i prefer them cooked slowly at a lower temperature. it seems as though they retain the actual flavors of the seasoning rather than the seasoning just scorching up on the flesh. -especially when you’re dealing with herbs. i mean, salt and pepper you can burn the crap out of and you come out with a brilliant flavor. but some things, like peanut sauces, bbq sauces, anything with sugars or the sort, you want to take it slow. that way, it tastes like the stuff you put on it.
tofu is fun in the oven because it always looks like it’s gonna pop. it gets poofy like a cake top does when it rises. i baked it for a slightly shorter time than the chicken. they both turned out beautiful and flavorful.
desert was amazing. nathan and i made a recipe from elana’s pantry. any time i use one of her recipes, i have no doubt that it will yield a perfect result. i’ve been following her blog even before i was avoiding grains. now that i can’t have them at all, this is the perfect site for inspiration. when i first found i couldn’t have grains, i thought baking was over for me. really it forced me to get deeper into it.
i’ve had my eye on this particular recipe for what seems like a year. why didn’t i just make it when i wanted it the first time?! it was so easy! too easy. 6 ingredients! and when the stirring was over, i was licking every bowl and spoon that touched the batter. i can’t wait to make this again. i’m also looking forward to playing around with it a little. lots of possibilities with different nut butters here.
1 (16oz) jar creamy roasted almond butter
1 cup of agave nectar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup dark chocolate chips
preheat oven to 325f. grease 9×13 glass baking dish.
in large bowl, mix almond butter until creamy. mix in agave and eggs. mix in salt and baking soda until well combined.
add half of the chocolate chips until evenly distributed into batter. pour into pyrex dish and bake for 35 minutes.
let ’em cool for a bit before slicing. if you can wait.
if you are a normal person, this should serve 24. if you are a hog like me, it will serve 8. i’m not exaggerating. these things are so chocolaty! look at that picture! chocolate is practically bleeding from the center of that thing. and you can taste the almonds quite a bit. -good thing, too, because chocolate and almonds is one of my all time favorite combos. these bars are very moist and fudgy. i was expecting something a little tougher, but they were like a big cookie with a soft chew. the ingredient list is pretty impressive, too. healthy stuff in there.
i added a little vanilla extract, though it didn’t really need it. i’ve seen people using maple syrup in place of agave nectar and i guess it turned out fine. next time i make it, i will use 3/4 cup agave nectar. i really like the sweetness to come from the chocolate.
i really liked having this meal with those guys. having a fresh meal together is something friends should try to do often. i find it so relaxing to be in good company such as brandon and nathan. you dudes are the bees knees.