Monday, June 15, 2009

The End of an Era

This post is both tasty and tearful, all at once. A dear friend, LeAnn, is packing up and moving far away. LeAnn has been an essential ingredient in the recipe of my Seattle food-life for many years. Amanda met LeAnn several years back while working at Bed Bath & Beyond (don't judge... a significant portion of my social group spent our formative years at the 3B, and we have WAY more awesome kitchen accessories and gadgets, softer sheets, and better knowledge of bath towels than the rest of you...). Anyway. LeAnn and Amanda became very good friends, and soon "Girls Night" was a weekly tradition. Throughout the years, Girls Night has waxed and waned, grown and shrunk, paused and started, and changed over and over again, but through it all, the number one requirement of Girls Night was that it was meat-free, as LeAnn is a vegetarian. For the last 3 or 4 (or was it more?) years, a group of food and wine lovin' gals convened in Amanda's dining room for her weekly vegetarian experiments (there was a period of time where I renamed the event "Black Bean Night"). This is where some of our best eats came to be, and where Amanda truly became the fantastic, creative chef she is today. This is also where we laughed, cried, talked about life, men, family and food, shared our deepest secrets, and became like sisters over delicious meals and bottles (and bottles and bottles) of red wine.

As LeAnn packs up and moves out, not only will I be losing a cat-sitter (damnit), it will also be the end of an era. To celebrate our great friendships and say goodbye to one of the founding members of Girls Night, we had a little going away get-together at Brit's beach house. Aside from Brit's famous clam dip (Grandma's recipe), we stuck true to tradition and had a table full of veggie-friendly snacks. We started off the event (as most great events go) with bloody marys (what's more vegetarian friendly than a tomato juice and asparagus spear cocktail!?). In honor of LeAnn, I made one of her favorite hors d'oeuvres- deviled eggs. On Top Chef, a gal had made 'deviled eggs six ways,' which I thought was pretty lame... I mean... you're on Top Chef and you're going to wow 'em with a tray of deviled eggs!? Boo. But then, like usual, I mocked something so much that I ended up thinking it was a great idea. I didn't make 6 varieties, but I did make 3. Unfortunately I didn't write down exactly what went into each, or in what quantities, and I totally threw in a dash of this and a sprinkle of that, so I can't provide any recipes. The names, however, should be telling enough. I made Thai Green Curry (with green curry inside, and basil and peanut toppings), BBQ (with a random BBQ mixture inside that had liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, and Bacon Salt, among other things, topped with flaked onion and paprika), and 'Asian' Sesame (with sesame oil, sriracha, and soy sauce, topped with black sesame seeds). They were all fun and delicious, everyone had a different favorite. My favorite was the curry, but to be honest, I'm not crazy about deviled eggs.

Amanda made her new 'signature 7 layer dip' (haha). Before you laugh... this was no ordinary 7-layer dip... it was a 7-layer Greek dip! Served alongside pita chips and complete with several varieties of homemade hummus (pounds and pounds of homemade hummus...), tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, red onions, and feta, this was one delicious dip. Amanda, you have my full blessing in making this your signature dish.

Last but not least, I made a strawberry buttermilk cake to round out the day. Adapted from a recipe in my latest issue of Gourmet (I substituted strawberries for raspberries), the cake was sweet, fruity, and subtle, and would be perfect at breakfast over a cup of hot black coffee and good conversation with your girlfriends. Come back and visit soon, LeAnn. We'll have all of your favorites hot from the oven waiting for you!
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