Last night we went over to Erin & Pat's house, who are long-time friends of F.'s. Erin and I bonded over our mutual love of food at their softball BBQ a few weeks ago, and soon afterward, we begun trying to nail down a night to share some appetizers and wine together. That night happened to be last night. Given that we don't live very far from each other, it was the perfect way to spend a quiet, warm summer evening; probably one of the first Halifax has seen this year!
Once their sweet boys were settled in for the night, we began assembling our dishes. Now, I have to admit that I was much less ambitious than Erin in planning what I was going to make last night. I thought: weeknight, working, keep it simple. I whipped up a smoked salmon and cream cheese dip, with garlic and scallions, and a ridiculously easy but effective chocolate and cherry cake. These required no great culinary skill, but they certainly do hit the spot.
Erin - mother of two, also working - completely put me to shame! Her appetizers were beautifully thought out and executed. She started with some jumbo shrimp, sautéed in a creamy garlic sauce, then baked some goat cheese and roasted walnut crostini with honey and rosemary. Our final course was a stunning, Vietnamese noodle salad with peanut sauce and flank steak. By the time my chocolate cake came round, I was already in a food coma and could barely move. I would have been perfectly happy spooning the peanut sauce into my mouth all night, to be honest, but thankfully someone took the spoon back after letting me try it. My dignity remains intact. One more close call.
I suspect I could learn a thing or two from Erin, so I'm hoping to score some of her recipes in the very near future (nudge, nudge)! In the meantime I will A) post photos for you (read: me) to drool over, B) post recipes for the dishes I made, and C) begin researching for our next foodie rendezvous. I need to step it up a notch!
(Adapted from Philly Canada's recipe, found here)
1 large tub (400g) of Philadelphia cream cheese
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup sour cream
1 whole package of smoked salmon
1 tsp. of lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup of scallions, chopped
Cracked black pepper
Combine everything in a bowl and mix until well blended. I warmed the cream cheese up in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds, to make it a little more pliable. Reserve a sprinkle of the scallions for the top of the dip. I served this with Triscuits.
I used to make a dip similar to this while living in Seoul, but it had more of a yogurt base. While undoubtedly healthier, I have to say I liked this one from Philly Canada better. Thick, hearty, and tangy.
Now onward to the cake. First, let me just say that my mom is not only an excellent cook, she's an excellent baker. But sometimes, even the best need a shortcut and a cheat sheet for happy bellies, and this is one of the best cheaters I've seen and tasted.
Debbie's Cheater Chocolate Bundt Cake
1 box chocolate cake mix
1 can cherry pie filling
1 Tbs. almond flavoring
1 cup chocolate chips
Mix together all ingredients (do not follow the cake mix instructions!). Pour ingredients into a greased tube (or bundt) pan and bake at 350ºF for 50 minutes. Let the cake cool completely before removing it from the pan.
The end product is a fudgey, fruity, dense, and moist chocolate cake that requires no topping. It'll stay moist for several days afterward, too, because of the cherry pie filling.
Here are some shots of Erin's divine dishes:
|The jumbo shrimp in garlic, cream sauce.|
|Baked goat cheese and roasted walnut crostini, with honey and rosemary.|
|Do not adjust your screen! The salad was actually this colourful and vibrant. |
Vietnamese noodle salad with peanut sauce and flank steak.