Dinner Party

9 Jan

The best dinner party story I’ve ever read was about Johnny Marzetti. Not a guy, but a questionable-sounding noodle casserole.

From the New York Times: “In ‘The Party,’ Sally Quinn gives the recipe for her mother’s version (spelled “Johnny Mazetti”) and tells the story of the time she borrowed her mother’s electric casserole cooker to make it at her tiny Dupont Circle apartment in Washington. She’d invited all sorts of grand people over — Fleur Cowles, Ambassador David Bruce and his wife, Evangeline — but unfortunately forgot to plug in the casserole. By the time she remembered, and the casserole was at last done, everybody was drunk, and, according to Quinn, David Bruce was trying to make out with Barbara Howar in the bedroom. It was, she wrote, ‘one of the best parties I’ve ever had.'”

Fortunately, we were invited to a dinner party where our host did manage to whip up the main dish. And you know it was a success, because we are still dreaming of it the next day. The humble-looking curry served over fluffy, fragrant jasmine rice was the perfect dish, as a raucus group of 12 drank gallons of wine and laughed and shouted over one another with one outrageous story after another. All of that revelry works up an appetite and this rich, velvety curry hit the spot. It was room temperature by the time we finally staggered to the table, but that only made the flavours more pronounced.

COCONUT BEEF CURRY
Recipe from Canada’s Best Slow Cooker Recipes by Donna-Marie Pye. We experimented with a generous scoop of apricot jam. It was a sweet, rich, mellow curry. We’re thinking next time to add more red curry paste.

1 tbsp canola oil 15 mL
2 lb stewing beef, cut into 1 inch cubes 1 kg
2 onions, sliced 2
2 cloves garlic, minced 2
2 tbsp paprika 25 mL
2 tbsp ground cumin 25 mL
1 tsp cinnamon 5 mL
2 tsp red curry paste or 1 tbsp (15 mL) curry powder 10 mL
4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped 4
1 lb peeled baby carrots, chopped 500 g
2 tbsp tomato paste 25 ml
1 – 14 oz can coconut milk 1 – 398 mL
1/2 cup water 125 mL
1 tsp salt 5 mL
  chopped fresh cilantro  

In a large nonstick skillet, heat canola oil over medium-high heat. In batches, add beef and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per batch or until browned on all sides. Add onions, garlic, paprika, cumin, cinnamon and curry paste (or curry powder). Saute for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Transfer mixture to slow cooker. Add potatoes and carrots. In a small bowl, combine tomato paste, coconut milk, water and salt; mix well. Add to slow cooker; stir to combine with meat and vegetables. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 6 hours, until vegetables are tender and stew is bubbling. Serve sprinkled with cilantro.

Here is another version, clipped from the New York Times, still as yet untried.

COCONUT-BRAISED BEEF
2 hot dried red chilies
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
Juice and zest of 2 limes, or 2 tablespoons rice or other mild vinegar
2 tablespoons corn, grapeseed or other neutral oil
1 1/2 pounds beef, preferably chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups coconut milk (or 1 can, about 1 1/2 cups, plus 1/2 cup water)
Salt to taste
Preparation
1.Put chilies, garlic, ginger, chili powder, lime juice and zest in bowl of a food processor, and process until everything is minced, or mince by hand and combine.
2.Heat oil over medium-high heat in a skillet that can later be covered. Add spice paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add beef, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and covered with sauce.
3.Pour in coconut milk, and bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer, stirring only occasionally (but making sure mixture is simmering very slowly, with just a few bubbles at a time breaking the surface) until meat is extremely tender, at least an hour and possibly closer to 2.
4.Uncover and cook until sauce is very thick and caramel-colored, stirring frequently so it does not brown. Season to taste with salt, and serve with white rice.

JUST FOR FUN:

johnny mazetti

JOHNNY MAZETTI

2 green peppers

2lbs onions

1 stalk of celery

Chop all of the above and saute in olive oil.

Brown 2 lbs of ground round steak and place in dutch oven.

Add:

2 cans tomato paste

2 cans Arturo sauce

2 cans tomato soup

2 cans mushrooms

1 large bottle stuffed olives

2 tbsp worchestershire sauce

Simmer two to three hours.

In a roasting pan, combine mixture with 4 packs of cooked egg noodles. Top with shredded cheese and bake for one hour.

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