Last night we participated with more than 40 other couples and fellow congregants in a Progressive Dinner event. The invitation described it:
Our Committee invites you to celebrate Israel: The Spice and the Spirit! with dinner at your hosts’ house with an Israeli-inspired menu replete with Israeli wine and delectable victuals. Vegan and Gluten Free options will be available.
Dessert and Entertainment at the home of Linda and Dennis.
We hosted the only vegan dinner and provided our own favorite dishes and wine selections. Barbara did most of the work; she has great skills and energy for hosting large affairs, based on her catering experiences, and I’m happy to contribute what I can. Here was our Menu:
Sarah came over to our house earlier in the day and applied her considerable flower-arranging skills for the centerpiece.
Many of the dishes are favorites we’ve done before, and you can find them in previous blog posts here by searching, if interested. The biggest hit turned out to be the Burnt Eggplant Puree from Ottolenghi’s book, Jerusalem, on page 79. I had made a similar version previously, so I made this dish, along with the Mushroom Consomme. Barbara’s Verrine was terrific, too, the first time I had the chance to enjoy this dish.
There were no photos taken during all our cooking, so I can’t share those. I do have one tip for the Eggplant Puree. To cook the eggplants properly so the flesh is exceedingly tender and full of smoky flavor, your best bet is to place them in the coals of a wood fire — which I had done in the pizza oven previously. Since that was not an option for this dinner, I used my gas grill — with an adjustment. I removed the grill plates from their normal position, and I placed one of them lengthwise inside the grill box, sitting right on top of the ceramic “lava” blocks. I started the grill, turned it up high, and put the eggplants right on the grill plate, turning occasionally, until the skin was black and crispy and the eggplants were a bit deflated from the steam inside escaping as they cooked. It worked really well.
Here are some photos of the mushrooms used for the consomme, our home and dining area, our guests, and the string quintet from the local high school, playing at the home where we all gathered after dinner for dessert and finale.