My daughter, Alex, had a few classmates over yesterday. They were supposed to do an ecology project but since yesterday was also her 14th birthday, a few other friends, non-members of the ecology group, joined us and we had pasta, chicken, toast and cake for merienda. The menu might look like fastfood fare, the stuff kids love, but the chicken was NOT fried, the toast was buttered whole wheat bread, the pasta sauce was all-natural and the cake was made with frozen — not canned — blueberries. No, no one complained that there were no hotdog slices in the pasta. No one looked for white bread either. Best of all, no one looked for an icing laden birthday cake.
I purposely refrained from cooking “experimental” dishes because a party is not exactly the kind of company that a cook makes guinea pigs of. A party means cooking in bulk and if a dish fails, you have leftovers that your family is obliged to consume for days and days. It might have been different if adults were among the invited guests but it was an all-teenage gathering.
I bought two loaves of whole wheat bread, unsliced, and we sliced them just before spreading the butter and popping them into the oven. “Butter” would actually be inaccurate — it should be half salted and half unsalted butter with finely chopped fresh garlic, parsley and basil.
The chicken was seasoned a day ahead to allow for maximum absorption. I tossed the chicken thighs and drumsticks with salt, lots of freshly ground pepper, thyme, oregano and garlic.
I used spaghetti for the pasta dish. It’s the same recipe for the ever-popular baked macaroni in the archive except that I no longer use tomato paste at home.
The biggest surprise was the bluberry streusel cake. Just a few days ago, I baked a similar cake with fresh strawberries and I had to make some salvage operations because I made some mistakes with the measurements of the flour and sugar. With the blueberry streusel cake, I followed the recipe to the letter. Guess what? My husband and kids said that the “salvaged” strawberry streusel cake was moister and softer than the bluberry streusel cake that I baked yesterday. Amazing.
We’re having company again today — a mixture of adults and kids this time. I’ll post photos of the menu tomorrow.