Tag Archives: lasagna
I was staring down at a well hidden full house Wednesday night in SoHo confident in my assumption that the guy to my right had a flush. My check emboldened him to bet, then I raised and his dejected look told me I had him. It was the perfect moment on a night before a holiday where I had no intentions on working or cooking. Of course these are all things I love to do but a few days off does the soul good…not to mention a full house and a fish to my right. My phone then chimed that familiar sound that a text was incoming…and the euphoria of my smokin cards went up in flames…”last minute decision…we have guests tomorrow night”. Back to the kitchen. I too had been check, raised.
The story goes, a friend had missed her family celebrations in the Midwest over Christmas due to the big snow storm and spent it at the airport. Then she got her presents from her sister and they included a scale from grandma…and after insisting that everything was fine…burst into tears…I was told that my maple mousse pie was going to make her feel better…so maple mousse pie it was.
“It’s no big deal…just a few people…don’t go crazy”. The guilt of not making a memorable meal on New Year’s Eve would be irrevocable so as the cards were being dealt for the next hand I was already planning a menu. Maybe it was the proximity to a poker game that made me so resolute but I could not think of anything but Italian…something I rarely do with guests. As I tossed in my ante I heard Sadie in my head, “maka da meat sauce and a lasagna”.
The next morning I took my poker winnings and Julia, my 10-year old sous chef daughter, to contend with the murderous cart driving shopperazzi at the Red Hook Fairway…Packs of 35-50 year olds with Patagonia clad toddlers in tow, simultaneously driving NASCAR bump and draft style, feeding and/or disciplining their children, angrily shopping for Piave and aged Gruyere and giving dirty looks that make you feel like a pimple faced loser at the cool kids table in the cafeteria. As we headed to the parking lot I looked behind me fully expecting the cast of 28 Weeks Later to be chasing us to the car. We escaped the Fairway zombies and headed home to get started on the “no big deal” meal.
The NBDM (no big deal meal) was to consist of cauliflower oreganata, a spicy sausage lasagna, triple meat (beef, pork and veal) meatballs in tomato sauce, freshly steamed shrimp cocktail, a cheese and fruit plate and ice box cake. Not to forget the maple mousse pie. I cleaned the shrimp, par-boiled the cauliflower, and started the sauce… Julia rolled the meat balls, uncased the sausages and chopped the garlic…it was a well (olive) oiled machine. The meat was browned…the sauce was boiling…we layered the lasagna…and the ice box cake…prepped the cheese plate…baked the cauliflower…put the meatballs in the sauce…and finally made the mousse pie and stuck it in the freezer.
The kitchen looked like we had done a Mythbusters and C4′d the refrigerator. Soo came home and said, “I thought I told you it wasn’t a big deal”…then thought about it for a moment and realized she had asked for the impossible…so without commenting on the horrific state of the apartment she assumed the captaincy of the clean-up crew and proceeded to sanitize the kitchen before company arrived. I poured my self a Blue Moon with a slice of orange and took five.
Cooking for friends…especially one who cried because a scale from grandma was not on her wish list…is always gratifying. The fact that cooking is also work never seems to make this untrue no matter how trying. People ate, they laughed and smiled…and so did I…that same smile I had when I raked the chips off the table after my full house. Poker and food…seems like old times.
PS…Grandma got the scale on sale…so all the girls in our friend’s family got one.