Anne and I live on the same floor of a large condo building. We were “hello, how are you” neighbors until we started talking about food, movies and all matters green. Real convo. As we both are good cooks (I am a vegetarian and Anne will forgo meat for our meals), we started our own supper club we call the Dinner Belles.
Dinner Belles happens whenever we like — once every two or three weeks – and can be whatever we like. It can be a shared dinner in one of our apartments (I’ll make soup and bread if you bring salad and dessert) or a collection of finger foods before checking out the latest production at a nearby informal experimental theater.
Why it works:
The Dinner Belles appreciate.
A friend’s husband once said he thought a can of spiced beans was just as good as the recipe she had worked so hard to produce for her family. We cheer on each others efforts, because the cooking is part of the relationship, and we take time to notice what we are doing.
The Dinner Belles experiment.
Anne has been working on a recipe for baba ghanoush for months (see the latest variation below). My soup explorations have included a jar of organic spaghetti sauce as a base for bean soup and another jar with different seasoning for a lentil stew.
The Dinner Belles surprise.
Since we rarely get too specific with menu planning, we delight ourselves with serendipitous menus and unusual combinations. For a recent warm summer evening, we wound up with a spread of five salads, including cold Szechuan noodles — Anne’s frequent shopper reward from a local grocery store.
The Dinner Belles share.
The visiting Belle takes her leftovers home in eco-friendly Tupperware. Neither has to cook a meal or two.
The Dinner Belles relax.
Dishes away, we watch arty videos. We are exploring Anne’s likes: British sci-fi — Blade Runner, Torchwood, Dr. Who — with some Eddie Izzard for variety now and then. And then there is the after-movie discussion. Delicious mini staycation.
Anne’s Most Recent Baba Ghanoush Recipe
For those who prefer subtitles on British videos, an aubergine is also known as an eggplant.
Bake whole aubergine for 1 hour at 450 degrees. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
In some sort of blending apparatus:
- Olive oil
- Cilantro or flat parsley depending on preference
- Greek yogurt
- Cool meat of aubergine (if you salted the skin whilst baking, include some salt)
- Dash of liquid smoke (or BBQ sauce in a pinch)
- Just enough tahini — not too much to overwhelm the subtle flavour of the aubergine but just enough to provide a nutty aftertaste and also create the essential consistency. (This balance comes only with trial and error. Lots of error.)
- Lemon Juice (for flavor but also to activate the tahini.)
- Salt and pepper to taste.
Refrigerate until tahini and lemon react and desired consistency is reached. (At least an hour.)
NB: Amount will swell so leave a little extra room in the container to accommodate.