Saturday, July 14, 2007

Party Food, part one

I'm not quite sure how it's happened again so soon, but once again I find myself a year older. I blame my bad health luck last year on the fact that I didn't throw myself a party and, not wanting to repeat the curse, I made sure to plan something big this year. I have lots of friends and loved ones joining me tonight for a dance party. We're moving furniture, rolling up the rug, and cranking up the stereo for a few hours of craziness and I am really looking forward to it!

I spent more time thinking about the perfect playlist (and perfect it is, with a little bit of everything thrown in to make a perfectly spicy mix) than I did thinking about the food. When I finally focused I realized there were two things I had to have to call it a party: tomatillo salsa and dolmas (stuffed grape leaves). Yes, I know, completely different continents but really, with the range of music? They make a perfect couple for this party.

The salsa is a snap, really. The hardest part is peeling the tomatillos which isn't a huge job. Take a pound and a half of tomatillos, peel off the husks, and wash them in hot water to remove the waxy coating. Place tomatillos in a large roasting pan along with a couple of nice, fat jalapeño chiles . Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or so, until they begin to soften. Toss into the pan a handful of garlic cloves which you've separated, but not peeled. Roast for another 20 minutes or so, until there everything is started to collapse and darken.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Pick over the tomatillos and chiles to remove any stems, and dump into the bowl of a food processor. Add the garlic by squeezing it out of the skins. Toss in 4 or 5 scallions (green parts included), as much fresh cilantro as you like, and a good pinch of salt. Whiz away until you have a pleasant consistency and give it a taste. You may want to add a bit of sugar or more salt. Admire its lovely color and bright flavor. Serve with chips or quesadillas or eggs or, honestly, just about anything. Refrigerate the highly unlikely leftovers.

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