Sunday, March 6, 2011
Throwing a Purposeful Dish Together
Has this ever happened to you? You get invited over to someone's house for a lovely dinner party and you're asked to bring something. At that moment, you instictfully respond with "Sure! Can't wait! Love to!" Then the week goes by, crazier than expected, and bam! here you are smack-dab on the morning of the dinner and you realize that you don't have a plan. Nor do you have a car to get you to the store since your husband had already left with it. Well, this actually does happen to me more often than not. I would love to boast that I'm a very organized person but with all that is continuous in my life, "chaos" seems to be at the top of that list. I do have one thing going for me in that I can usually pull something out of my hat (or should I say pantry) even under the procrastination gun and on top of that, I find that those are the desserts or tapas that usually end up being the best. If you have a few basic recipes memorized then quite possibly changing a few of the flavors will make for a pleasant surprise. Then, when you show up to the party with your contribution in hand, you can "Wow" them by saying "I was so excited to come that I was inspired to create this dish just for today!" I'm jus' sayin'!
I did a post a while back for Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie that has just a few ingredients in it and is very easy to throw together. I took that as inspiration along with a handful of leftover ginger cookies from the cookie jar and made this...
Chocolate Dreamsicle Pie
1 Graham Cracker Crust (I used left over cookies that I pulverized in the food processor instead of graham crackers)
1 8 oz Package of Cream Cheese Softened
1 8 oz Tub of Frozen Whipped Topping
1/2 Cup of Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice
1 Tbsp. of Good Vanilla Extract
2 oz. of Melted Dark Chocolate (to drizzle on top of pie)
Orange Wedges to Garnish.
In your mixer with the whisk attachment, beat cream cheese until it is fluffy. Add the orange juice concentrate and vanilla. Then beat in the whipped topping until all is combined and fluffy. Spoon into cooled crust. Melt chocolate and place in a small plastic sandwich bag, snip the corner and drizzle in any pattern all over the top of pie. Garnish with orange wedges. Chill for at least an hour before serving.
I was also supposed to bring an appetizer. Luckily, I have an easy pizza dough recipe that work's as a mock-Focaccia in a pinch. I use the same basic recipe but always change the flavors by switching up the toppings. It's pretty much a no-fail treat.
4 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Warm Water
2 Tablespoons of Instant Dry Yeast
1/3 Cup of Granulated Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Salt
* For this version of the basic recipe I also added 1 Teaspoon of Granulated Garlic and 1 Tablespoon of Herbs de Provence
Mix all of the above in a metal bowl (a sticky dough will form). Cover with a damp dish towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, knead on a floured board adding flour 1/2 cup at a time until it is no longer sticky (when the dough pulls away from the board cleanly), then divide in half. Take one-half and form on a parchment-lined cookie sheet in the shape of a rustic oval. Do the same with the other half.
At this point you can drizzle olive oil on top and go to town with whatever topping(s) you have in the pantry and fridge. Rule of thumb is to use a fruit/nut/cheese combo and you can't go wrong.
In this version, I used Fig Walnut Conserve, Goat Cheese and prosciutto on one loaf. On the other loaf, I used prosciutto, goat cheese, pine nuts and thinly sliced green apple.
Bake in a 375 oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve sliced with olive oil for dipping.