Just like that, fall is here. I kind of love it.
This is the perfect weather for wearing boots, drinking hot chocolate and having friends over for some sort of warm, gooey meal. And we did just that.
On Saturday, we had a few friends over to our sukkah for cholent. I know what you’re thinking: What to the what?
A sukkah is a small hut that Jews recreate each year during the fall harvest festival. There are strict guidelines on how to build them to ensure they are temporary — just like the ones we built wandering in the desert all those years ago.
I don’t think they had Home Depot in the desert, so we had it easy. We bought PVC pipes, electrical tape, corn stalks and a bag of gourds — and just like that, we were set. Add a few friends, a bright sunny day and cholent — and you have a perfect afternoon.
But what’s a cholent? Cholent is a mishmash dish from the ghettos of Eastern Europe. Add potatoes, an onion, beans and whatever meat you have on hand — Joel was horrified that I wanted to combine pot roast and hot dogs but wolfed it down all the same :)
You cook the whole thing for about 24 hours, and it creates this yummy hodgepodge. There is no real recipe — everyone just tweaks it and makes it their own. I nonetheless leaned heavily on a few recipes (this was our first attempt, and you have to start somewhere.) Here is a version by a blogger calling herself the Shiksa in the Kitchen: Click here to check it out.
The Mediterranean spices make the cholent warm and yellow. Highly recommend.
We followed that up on Sunday with Martha Stewart’s macaroni and cheese. My sister –in–law introduced me to this blog the Smitten Kitchen. So. Good.
In this recipe, you create a cream base, add a ton of cheese, pour over pasta and bake with a bread-crumb crust. Then you invite people over to help you eat every last bite so you don’t do it yourself :)
My camera is in the shop, so click here to view *unbelievable* photos.
It was a cold, rainy night Sunday so we forewent the sukkah and all stayed inside with a bottle of white wine — it was so fun. And it was such a pretty table, all set with our wedding dishes!! Can you say ColorWave?
Everything wasn’t perfect, of course there were snafus: One butternut squash and a small box of baby spinach *really* cook down. By the time I was done sautéing the spinach with toasted sesame oil, soy sauce and garlic, it fit in the bottom third of a cereal bowl. It was pretty funny. The squash, which was sautéed in brown butter — who knew I could brown butter? — filled half a bowl. Oh, well. I tried. The brownies were dry, so I drowned them in vanilla ice cream. Plus one of our guests brought Entenmann's. Score!!
Lastly, we had some family over. I feel bad, my parents were down on Sunday and we didn’t make them anything! Same for our friend Theresa who passed through after a bachelorette party at Revel (jealous!) Sorry guys!!! My grandparents and aunt were down, though, for the first time Wednesday, so I made them eggplant rollatini: Ricotta and basil plucked from our kitchen rolled into eggplant slices and baked in marinara sauce — Yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum.
I tried to make the Weight Watchers version, but got a little foiled by Joel’s grocery shopping. Note to self: Teach my husband the difference between part-skim and whole-milk ricotta. Yeah, that’s going to happen ;) At least it was delicious!!!
Next week: Joel and I head to NYC for a mini-honeymoon.
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