Monday, March 08, 2010

The Ingredient Party

On Saturday night, I was invited to my first “Ingredient Party.”

“What’s an ingredient party?” I hear you query.

Okay, I’ll tell you. It’s a dinner party where everyone brings one or two food items (ingredients, see?) to be prepared. The thing is, no one knows what anyone else is bringing and, just to make it challenging, everyone is encouraged to bring out-of-the-ordinary ingredients. Then once everyone arrives, you drink wine. Then you put your culinary heads together and come up with a meal from the ingredients that everyone has brought.

The host supplies the main-course ingredient. In this case, the hosts were Jack and Steve who supplied Cornish game hens.

We had eight people in attendance and here’s what we ended up with:

Crimini, oyster, and chanterelle mushrooms
Puff pastry
Yams (not sweet potatoes – but yams)
Fresh cactus leaves
Bitter melons
Red lentils
Chayote squash
Toasted watermelon seeds
Jar of ground cherry pits

After calling my bestie-foodie, Lorraine in amazement over the ingredients, we got to work. (Still, I was thinking, "How in the world are we going to make a meal out of all this?")

I was named “Chicken-Boy” and put in charged of the Cornish game hens which got festooned with cloves of garlic, chopped lemons, and thyme (thank you, Nigella Lawson) then slow-roasted.

The yams were prepared as you would for mashed potatoes. That was easy.

The red lentils were cooked and pureed with Indian spices, sautéed mushrooms and stuffed into the hollowed-out chayote squash.

The bitter melons are the most vile and bitter things you could ever imagine. Cooking them only made them angry and taste worse. Bits of them were passed around to unsuspecting guests and then photographs were taken of their horrified faces. The remaining bitter melons were fashioned into a Medusa-like centerpiece and placed in a vase.
See? Angry bitter melons.

The toasted watermelon seeds were passed around as well.

The cactus leaves were sliced into fingers, char-grilled and doused with lemon-butter.

The ground cherry pits were pretty amazing. They were sweet, crunchy and actually had a slight cherry flavor. They got sprinkled on sheets of buttered puff pastry which became a great accompaniment to ice cream for dessert.

And here is the meal.

It really did have a great ta-daah factor. After pulling this meal off, we're definitely ready to be the next stars of Iron Chef. (Believe me, we could reduce Bobby Flay to tears. I'd love to do it, too.)

Everyone had a wonderful time, including Chicken-Boy.



At 8:36 PM , Blogger Bad Alice said...

I didn't know you could eat watermelon seeds and cherry pits. Or at least I didn't know anyone would want to eat them. I would never have thought of it.

At 9:54 PM , Blogger Miss Healthypants said...

Wow, that sounds really interesting! :) But personally, I would take one look at those ingredients and run shrieking for the nearest fast food place. *hee hee*

Still, it sounds like it was fun. And like Bad Alice, I didn't know that you could eat watermelon seeds and cherry pits? Wow, how were the watermelon seeds? I would like to try both of them.


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