Potluck Parties: Mag Club Goes Small, Intimate
EVENT: Mag Club June
VENUE: Jordana’s Apartment, West Village
PARTY SIZE: 5
MENU: Impromptu Bulgur Salad (Cara); Sweet Potato Quesadillas (Phoebe); Caprese Salad and Quinoa with Roasted Broccoli (Leora); Peanut Noodles with Eggplant from the Restaurant Downstairs (Jordana); Fruit Plate (Sarah)
We had a few tragic last-minute cancellations in June, and Mag Club’s guest list was whittled down to five old friends: Phoebe, Jordana, Leora, Sarah, and me. It all might have seemed a little elegaic, or at least subdued, if it weren’t for a couple of things.
First, Jordana had a brand-new, lime green couch. We’d been hearing about it for a while, but this was the first time I’d laid eyes on it, and it really is uplifting (if that’s not a ridiculous thing to say).
Second, we had a plain old good time. The five of us have known each other since we were thirteen, and we literally are never at a loss of things to talk about. With a slightly smaller crowd, also, we could hear each other talk. Moreover, we acted surprisingly civilized: all five of us arrived on time, and we sat and nursed cocktails for a full ten minutes before we dove into the food. Among the topics of conversation were these reflections on the food:
-How the noodle place below Jor’s apartment prepares the eggplant for their peanut noodles. It has kind of a sweet-and-sour thing going on, and it’s cut into these thin strips and made chewy somehow. We made no progress on how the texture came about exactly.
-The fact that Leora brings Caprese Salad to every potluck she attends, but that this is actually legit, because it’s something you can make without very much time or effort, a sort of half homemade and half store-bought dish.
-Why Sarah decided to bring vodka and a fruit plate to this potluck instead of the baked goods she often brings. (Answer: Though sometimes sugar does wonders for our systems, since I had mandated, by gchat, that I needed a healthy-ish mag club, and since Jor had warned, by email, that it had been a particularly frustating day at the office, we realized it was an occasion for straight-up cocktails, not sweets.)
-That Phoebe’s quesadillas were a seriously hodgepodge affair. She had a couple different fillings left over from a finger-food party she had hosted the weekend before, and she mixed them together, added cheese, and presented us with quesadillas so good we didn’t even want to top them with Green Mountain Gringo Salsa.
As is sometimes the case, we forgot to discuss our articles—the reason for the club’s existence. But it was nice—like super nice—to sit on the floor at Jor’s coffee table, feast, and forget about everything but friendship, gossip, and how best to season bulgur wheat.
From Jordana’s kitchen, where coffee tables are ideal for small potlucks, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
2 ½ lb sweet potatoes, quartered
1 tbsp curry powder (add more depending on how spicy)
½ lime, juiced
2 tbsp cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup black beans, drained
Cayenne (optional, if your curry powder isn’t hot enough)
12oz shredded Monterey Jack cheese
8 tortillas, traditional or whole wheat
Preheat the oven to broil.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the quartered potatoes until a knife easily slips in and out, about 20 minutes depending on the size of the pot. Place the cooked potatoes in a colander and run under cold water until cool enough to handle. Remove the skins and dice the cooked potatoes—the chunks should be fairly small, but no need to be uniform.
In a medium sized bowl, mix the potatoes together with the remaining ingredients. Taste for seasoning and add salt and spice (cayenne) as necessary. Gently stir in the blakc beans.
On a flat work surface, assemble each quesadilla one at a time: sprinkle a small handful of cheese on one side of the tortilla, spread a spoonful of potato mixture on top, and sprinkle with another small helping of cheese. Fold the tortilla in half and press down to make sure the quesadilla adheres. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
Arrange the quesadillas on two cookie sheets. Place in the hot oven and broil until golden brown on the top and the cheese is melted through.
Impromptu Bulgur Salad
Ingredients1/2 cup bulgur
2 teaspoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 small radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 carrot, grated
1/2 yellow pepper, roasted and cut into slivers*
3 dates, thinly sliced
1 spring onion or shallot, diced
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried coriander
pinch of cumin
*To roast a pepper: balance your pepper over a high flame on your gas stove. Char it on all sides. Enclose it in an airtight container, like a Tupperware, for 30 minutes (this is to steam it). Clean it under running water, peeling off the charred skin and disposing of the seeds and stem.
Submerge the bulgur in 1 cup of boiling water. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Stir in the butter and the salt.
When the bulgur has cooled to room temperature, add the vegetables, dates, and seasonings. Stir to combine.
Defintiely make this a day ahead of time—it’s at its best when the flavors have had a chance to meld.