Last Spring, my friend Emily and I started cooking together on a regular basis. This eventually evolved into our almost weekly Sunday night dinners. While I am constantly thinking about food and Sunday dinner possibilities, I wait until Wednesday to send her an e-mail and ask for her thoughts. We try to make something that we normally wouldn’t be able to during the week and which also provides us with leftovers for the next day or two. We also like to have a glass of wine or a cocktail in hand while cooking because that makes things more interesting. After a delicious 2011, Emily and I vowed an even more tasty 2012.
Roommate Alex, Emily, myself and a few friends started off the first Sunday dinner of 2012 with some pate I had picked up at Whole Foods earlier that day and Spanish ham which Alex brought back from her recent trip to Spain paired with cantaloupe.
As it turned out, the catalyst for the dinner was a box of vegetables roommate Alex received from the Green Grocer earlier that week. In addition to the cantaloupe, the box included turnips and acorn squash and Alex graciously suggested we use them for our meal. I hadn’t cooked with turnips before and after doing the usual browsing of recipes, I figured we could do one of three things with them: roast, mash, or puree. Pureeing the turnips into some kind of soup was the most appealing thing to me and I really liked the looks of a recipe for one that combined the turnips with with wild mushrooms. I have a soft spot for mushrooms, especially the wild ones. Although the recipe called for parsnips, I assumed substituting turnips wouldn’t be a problem. On that last point, I did not do any research to come to that conclusion. I am pretty sure my thought process was “winter root vegetable with similar endings, likely interchangeable.” Lucky for all involved, I was not incorrect. Also, lucky for Emily as she was in charge of the soup, which turned out great. I also loved the use of a floating toast topped with the sautéed shiitake and cremini mushrooms.
I hadn’t cooked with acorn squash before either but immediately knew what I wanted to do with them. Last fall, Emily and I made a butternut squash and leek risotto which was so delicious I had wanted to make it again since. I did some due diligence to ensure that we could substitute the acorn squash for the butternut squash (yes we can!) and went on the hunt for the most beautiful leeks I could get my hands on. In addition to mushrooms, I also have a great love for leeks. This risotto turned out as delicious as I remembered, thanks in no part to that half cup of heavy whipping cream at the end. I love how everything just melted together to make one tasty and comforting dish. Shelley & Tom also brought over a side of brussels sprouts for a healthy side dish.
Being partial to red wine, I opted to open a bottle of Pinot Noir we had in the wine cabinet and offered the choice of a Malbec as well. We also opened a second Malbec Beth brought over for that evening’s dinner.
There is very little I need in life other than great food, a little wine, and lovely friends. It’s a great way to end the weekend and start the week.