Last week, I was in New York for a work conference, and it was the best kind of work trip. I learned a lot and came back energized about the work I do. But I also had enough time before and after the conference to explore New York, experience some off-Broadway theater performances, go to some museums, and eat at some amazing restaurants. Nobody should be surprised that I googled Ina Garten’s favorite restaurants in the neighborhood where I was staying, and I roped some colleagues into eating breakfast with me at Nougatine by Jean-Georges. It was delicious and amazing, and even though we didn’t see Ina Garten, I feel just a tiny bit more stalkerish-close to her than I did before.
Now that we’re back in town, we were invited to friends’ house for another cooperative dinner party. This is now my favorite style of entertaining: someone else with a pool and some grilling know-how invites us over, and we bring various and sundry side dishes and desserts. I don’t have to pick up all of the nerf bullets and legos around our house or even put away the laundry, and we can finish the prepping dishes clean-up after we get home. The kids get a nice long swim while we catch up with friends, and everybody’s happy. This week, we sampled three more from Cooking with Jeffrey: sweet potato empanadas, herbed goat cheese (I used Boursin) and kale salad with pecorino and pancetta. The empanadas were slightly fussy to make, but less fussy than Ina’s instructions to cut circles in puff pastry, because we live in Texas, and I could buy pre-cut perfectly sized empanada dough from Goya at our local supermarket. They were tasty, though, and we’re already daydreaming about what else we might put inside an empanada. The herbed goat cheese was very popular, as you can probably see from the photo. And the kale salad was as good as kale salad gets: generously dressed with a garlicky caesar-type dressing and combined with pancetta and bread cubes.
We also brought some drinks, two very midwestern desserts (the now-ubiquitous browned butter Rice Krispie treats from smitten kitchen, along with my brother’s favorite chocolate revel bars), and a salad from Melissa Clark’s “Dinner” cookbook. I throw everything on trays from IKEA, which are inexpensive and cute, and they travel well. We came home with full hearts and tired kids, which is my favorite way to come home on a Saturday night.