Cooking For Others: A Weekend’s Worth of Food

EVENT: Weekend in the Hudson Valley

VENUE: Barbara and Peter’s (Kate’s Parents’) House
MENU: Grilled Steak; Linguine Primavera; Greens with Dried Tomatoes and Roasted Chickpeas; Berry Yogurt; Muffins for the Morning After
(You’ll have to forgive the slightly lesser quality of these pictures. There was so much going on at Kate’s, two weekends ago, that we couldn’t quite be bothered to pose the food as perfectly as usual.)
Kate’s parents have a house up the Hudson in New York, and since they were spending a weekend not on vacation there, Kate and her brother invited us up. A group of nine wide-eyed, country-bound city folk, Kate made sure we were as entertained as campers. Waterskiing, card games, long walks, runs, bike rides, and a tennis tournament counted among the planned activites. Among the unplanned: getting hopelessly lost on the way back from waterskiing, taking a random two-hour nap on Saturday afternoon (that would be me), and having to feed partially cooked DiGiorno frozen pizza to a certain pair who had managed, on the train, to swill all three of the bottles of wine they were bringing to Kate as a gift.
Anyway, after all that activity, we obviously grew hungry. Kate’s mom, Barb, is an awesome cook (and her kitchen is huge and well-stocked dream), so there was a lot to live up to. A few farmstand runs were supplemented with a supermarket excursion on Saturday around 7pm, which, of course, all nine of us felt compelled to go on. And then we dished out the cooking tasks, so everyone had their hand in making the meal, or at least setting the table—and then everyone also got to bask in the glory of an excellent, al-fresco feast.
As for the muffins, which I made on my own early Sunday morning—well, it was a team effort to eat them!
From my kitchen, where dinner is a team effort, to yours,


Linguine Primavera
Serves 8 as a side dish

You can make this dish with pretty much any veggies you have on hand. I like what the roasting does for the broccoli and asparagus, but you can add them to the sauté if you don’t feel like turning on the oven. Keep in the leafy greens—spinach and arugala—if you can…they’re really good with the pasta.
1 pound linguine
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
pinch hot pepper
1 carrot, diced
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 small head broccoli, trimmed and cut into small florets
1 large bunch baby spinach
1 large bunch arugala
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toss the asparagus and broccoli with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and roast for 30 minutes, until cooked through and brown. Sprinkle with salt.
Meanwhile, sauté the onions and garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over low heat. When soft, add the carrot and the spices. The sauce can be made up to this point ahead of time.
When you’re nearly ready to eat, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook as instructed on the box. As the pasta is cooking, scoop out about 1 1/2 cups of water. Add 1/2 cup of pasta water to the sauteed veggies, along with the broccoli, asparagus, and greens, a minute or two before you drain the pasta.
Drain the linguine and add to the saucepan (if it fits—otherwise do this step in the serving bowl). Add more reserved pasta water if it seems dry, then add half the Parm, taste for salt, and serve. Offer the rest of the cheese on the side.
Greens with Dried Tomatoes and Roasted Chickpeas
Serves 9
This was a fairly intimidating part of the meal, since Nick, Kate’s brother, runs the Midtown salad institution, Just Salad. Melissa, his girlfriend, took care of roasting the chickpeas, which gave everything a delightful crunch.
enough lettuce to fill a big salad bowl
1 can whole tomatoes
2 cans chickpeas
2 tablespoons olive oil
spice combination: 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon coriander, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pinch of cayenne
1 teaspoon brown sugar
olive oil or vinaigrette, for dressing
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Drain the chickpeas really well and use paper towels or dish cloths to dry them completely. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and the spice mix, then spread on a baking sheet. Toast for an hour or longer, until they’re crisp, being careful not to burn.
At the same time, slice the tomatoes from the can into 1/4″ pieces. Sprinkle with the other teaspoon of olive oil. Toast for about 1 1/2 hours, turning the pan and flipping the tomatoes if edges seem like they might burn. About halfway through sprinkle with the brown sugar.
Compose the salad by arranging the chickpeas and tomatoes on top of roasted greens. Make a vinaigrette, or simply dress with olive oil, vinegar, and salt.

Berry Yogurt
Serves 10

Kate took charge of the yogurt. It makes a great light dessert—and also holds its own as a late-night snack.

1/2 pound each frozen raspberries and blackberries
2 cups plain yogurt—low fat and nonfat are fine
1/2 cup sugar

Put all the ingredients in a food processor container along with a couple of tablespoons of water. Process until just pureed and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. If the fruit does not break down completely, add a little more water through the feed tube, a tablespoon or two at a time, being careful not to over-process or the sorbet will liquefy.

Freeze for at least an hour or two, until firm. Serve topped with fresh berries.

Muffins for the Morning After
Makes 24 mini muffins

1 stick butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
about 1 cup assorted fresh berries, pitted if necessary and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces if they are large*
*I used about 1/3 cup each of dark cherries, raspberries, and blackberries.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 24 cup mini-muffin pan very well.
Combine the melted butter with the sugar. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, salt, soda, and powder. Fold it into the wet ingredients using as few strokes as possible. When it’s nearly combined, gently fold in the berries. Divide evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the muffins have risen and are golden, and the top of a muffin bounces back when you press on it.
Posted in: Cooking for Others
  • Kate

    Successful roasted chickpeas? You're my hero!!

  • Kate Kenner

    Cara, what a wonderful description of the weekend! The food would not have been as good without your touch!!

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