So at the end of my maternity leave, I decided to set up some simple dinner parties with friends to keep me from becoming a total hermit. In hindsight, two back to back might have been a little overkill! But we ate great food and had a lot of fun, so totally worth it. From appetizers to dessert, this was a lot of pre-cooking and reheating to serve. Which means more time with your friends – the whole point, right? Also, we pulled A LOT of these from the Internet. Go to there. Eat this food. The chickpeas, herb dip and pudding chomeur are all high on my list of crave-able foods.
Roasted Buffalo Chickpeas – from The Wicked Noodle
Whipped Feta and Herb Dip – from Closet Cooking (I’ll admit – I threw in a whole half a lemon)
Uncle Boo’s Grilled Ham (Steaks, in a pinch)
Tomato and Pomegranate Salad – from the New York Times
Grilled Fennel – Toss in olive oil, salt and pepper. Put over high heat in a grill basket until edges are charred and fennel is tender. Eat warm with a squeeze of lemon.
Pudding Chomeur, aka Unemployment Cake
Uncle Boo's Ham (steaks)
A friend had recently gone from vegetarian back to meat, and begged for grilled ham. Neither of us had ever had it, but Dave and I were game. It turns out, my uncle is famous for his! His came over on Easter last year to show us how it was done, and we're been addicted ever since. It's hard to get whole hams now, so we tried it with ham steaks. If possible, they were even better!
- 3 ham steaks, smoked
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 whole bottle Golden's mustard
- Step 1 Score the steaks across in both directions, forming crosshatching but not cutting through. Mix the sauce ingredients together. Preheat the grill to high.
- Step 2 Put the ham steaks on the grill for about three minutes a side. Spread mustard sauce on top. Flip them. spread mustard sauce on the top surface and cook three minutes on the second side, or until charred around the edges of the crosshatching.
- Step 3 Take cooked steaks off direct heat and keep warm on the side of the grill until serving.
Pudding Chomeur, or Unemployment Cake
This is a traditional family dessert in Quebec, one I missed terribly. Dave loves maple and I love Dave, so I pulled this bad boy out last weekend. It has only gotten better! When you pour the maple caramel sauce over the cake, you'll think it's too much. Don't hold back. The cake should be submerged before you put it in the oven. You'll want every drop! Also, no part of this is good for you.
- 3 1/3 cups maple syrup
- 1.5 pints whipping cream
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 eggs
- 4 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup milk
- Step 1 Cream the butter and sugar.
- Step 2 Add eggs one at a time, until blended. Beat for two minutes.
- Step 3 Add dry ingredients, alternating with milk, beating all the while. Ladle into 15 ramekins or a large baking dish.
- Step 4 Bring the cream and syrup to a boil in a medium saucepan. Watch closely to keep from boiling over. Boil 3-5 minutes. Ladle into ramekins or baking dish until cake is fully submerged.
- Step 5 Bake at 400 F for 30 minutes, until brown. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.
- Step 6 Serve as is, warm or room temperature. You can also top with fresh berries and/or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.