Monday, November 7, 2011

Cooking for Others

Dinner: November 5

To celebrate our friend’s 40th birthday, we asked about steakhouses for her celebratory dinner. Prime rib is her favorite, so we figured our group of girlfriends would treat her to a special meal. Her response was indicative of her generous heart, as she wanted us to gather and make a meal for some homeless people in our community.

She chose PATH - People Assisting the Homeless - as they have a shelter in West Los Angeles that houses/feeds about 30-40 people. There were eight of us, and Evelyn devised a fabulous meal for us to cook and serve them.

First on the menu was a salad devised by Chrissy. We dubbed it an Italian chopped salad, and it included two types of lettuce, shredded fresh Mozzarella cheese, black olives, garbanzo beans, halved cherry tomatoes, roasted corn, and a vinaigrette dressing. That came together very nicely and produced masses of salad that gave them leftovers for the week.

Next on the menu was the main course of ham. Ev bought two 11-pound bone-in hams from CostCo, both complete with glaze. The hams were cooked and sliced when purchased, so we simply warmed them for several hours before heading to the PATH shelter, then warmed more with glaze. Cut and serve!

As the simple side dish, Ev chose some broccoli florets with Meyer lemon olive oil, a recipe from the lovely Giada de Laurentiis. Very simply, we blanched the broccoli in boiling, salted water, then drained and tossed with salt, pepper, and the lemon-flavored oil.

The complicated side dish was from Ev’s favorite restaurant, Fleming’s Steakhouse. Their chipotle cheddar macaroni and cheese is unbelievable, as she and her sister made it for one of our Thanksgiving dinners in the past. It’s a little difficult, but they really wanted to make it for our dinner guests at PATH. Here’s the recipe for 8-10 servings, so we multiplied it by … well … a lot.

  • 1 pound cavatappi or curly pasta
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup diced onion
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon white ground pepper
  • ¾ pound grated smoked cheddar cheese
  • ¼ pound grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried chipotle chili powder
  • ¾ cup panko

Basics: Boiled water, salted, and cooked pasta for 8-9 minutes. Drained pasta and ran under cold water, then toss in oil. Sautéed onions in buttered pan, added flour for 1-2 minutes, then added cream, half-and-half, kosher salt, and white pepper. Simmered until sauce was thick, blended cheeses into it, and added cooked pasta. Poured into baking dish. Warmed oil and chipotle powder in sauté pan, removed from heat, stirred in bread crumbs. Crumbled mixture over pasta, and baked at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until golden.

This is the most amazing mac & cheese I’ve ever tasted. It has a kick to it, but it’s not overwhelming. It takes some time to prepare, and some of the ingredients aren’t cheap, but it’s worth it!

Lastly, Michelle made a luscious peach cake for dessert. Four cakes were more than enough, and she was able to take one back home with her. I don’t have the recipe, but it was incredible!  

The residents of the shelter seemed quite happy with the meal. It was a hectic day of cooking for the eight of us who did it, but it was worth it to give people who are struggling a nice meal and let them know that people care about them. I highly recommend volunteering at your local shelter. It not only puts life in perspective but can put a smile on someone’s face when they see that you care.

1 comment:

  1. I'd love to be included if you guys do this type of thing again :)