Sunday, August 8, 2010

Recipe for a New BFF

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Frugal Hostess is delighted to introduce today's guest blogger, Rachel Bertsche.  Rachel blogs about her adventures in finding a new best friend at MWF Seeking BFF, and she's also writing a book by the same title.  While Rachel is not at all as snarky, obnoxious, and big-mouthed as The Frugal Hostess tends to be, FruHo is a devoted daily reader of her blog.  This post describes a brilliant idea for girls ISO platonic girlfriends: a girls' night in.  TFH is kicking herself that she didn't think of this first, but this party will be happening at The Frugal Homestead some time soon.  Head for the hills, FruHubs!

I’m on the quest to find my new BFF. Now, one of the trickiest parts of friend searching is finding time to follow up with all the people you meet. Let’s say you do some serious girl-dating and find 10-15 great potential BFFs, but none of them know each other. This adds up to lots of one-on-one evenings, and it can feel like there’s not enough evenings in the month—the year!—to see everyone as much as you like.
What to do? Introduce them, of course.
I decided to host a girls-night-dinner-party-thing so I could catch up with some of my new friends, and also connect some ladies who I thought would hit it off. It would be like killing 8 birds with one stone, except for that phrase implies crossing a chore off the to-do list. This was more like eating 8 cakes for the calories of one. Or something else fabulous and delicious.
In trying to figure out what to serve potential new friends, I consulted some pals of the old variety: The ladies of Big Girls Small Kitchen. I'm usually the one who shows up with a bottle of Pinot, not the Suzy Homemaker, so could they suggest something delicious but easy?  Culinary problem-solvers to the core, they immediately had the perfect plan: A make-your-own-pizza party. An activity would help break the ice, they said, and mask any awkward silences that arise when strangers meet for the first time.

So last week I faked domesticity and (with more than a little help from Mom, I admit) prepped my kitchen for a cooking extravaganza. I  set out three stations, each with a recipe, bowls of ingredients, and a ball of pizza dough from my favorite local parlor. The biggest debate centered around how to roll out the dough. One girl swore we should do it by hand, the rest of us used rolling pins in order to get pizzas large enough to cover the rectangular baking sheets. The hand-roller said she’d recently read that was the best option, but in retrospect, the pins are the way to go. Unless you like super thick and super doughy dough. Which I kinda do. You know what they say about pizza: even when it’s bad, it’s good.
The whole make-your-own-ness was an ideal project, as those who wanted to don an apron and get a little messy could, and those who were more the drink-wine-and-chat type did that. And, not surprisingly, everyone partook in the decorate-your-own-cupcake portion of the evening. No one is too good for cream cheese frosting. (We had lots of cupcake toppings out, and still one guest used the Skittles we keep in a bowl in our living room. Cream cheese frosting and Skittles? Gross. But you do you, as my husband would say.)
Turns out awkward silences weren’t an issue—I’m a better matchmaker than cook. But I still endorse the make-your-own-dinner girls night. It helps foster chatting (wine helps with that, too) and, if nothing else, deflects total blame if the food is anything less than success.
I bought pizza dough from a local parlor and unfrosted cupcakes from my favorite bakery instead of making my own. If you want to make everything from scratch, check out the BGSK ladies’recipes here.

Pizza Sauce
(Makes about 2 cups sauce)

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes, or whole tomatoes pureed in a food processor
6 basil leaves, coarsely torn
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of red pepper flakes
1.  In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, saute the garlic in 1 tablespoon of oil until fragrant, about 1 minutes. 
2.  Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. 
3.  Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced to about 2 1/2 cups.
4.  Add the basil, and season sauce with salt and pepper. 
5.  Cook for 5 minutes more, then turn off the heat and cool to room temperature. (You can make this 3-4 days in advance).
White Pizza with Ricotta, Sun-Dried Tomato, and Scallion
1 ball pizza dough
1 1/2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
1/2 - 3/4 cup shredded whole milk mozzarella
1/2lb fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced [You might want to buy double the amount of this, because fresh mozzarella is very difficult to not eat by the handful under cover of darkness.]
3 scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup thinly sliced sundried tomatoes
1/2 cup pizza sauce (optional)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional) [NOT optional. XO, TFH]
1.  Preheat the oven to 500°F.*
2.  Spoon the ricotta over the pizza dough and spread with the back of your spoon. 
3.  Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top of the pizza. Arrange the fresh mozzarella, scallions, and sun-dried tomatoes on top. If using, dot the top of the pizza with small spoonfuls of tomato sauce.
4.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the crust has browned and the cheese is bubbling and brown in spots. 
5.  Remove from the oven, sprinkle with salt, hot pepper, and grated parm if you like. Rest for a minute or two, then cut into slices and serve.
[*If your oven starts to smoke or smell weird or otherwise freak you out at this temperature, you can go lower if, and only if, you use a pizza stone.  TFH's oven is always coated with a layer of crumbs, and the billowing smoke they produce is nasty.  What?  Don't judge; how often do you clean your oven?]
Delicious variations include: Pepperoni and Shallot; Margharita Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil; Potato, Caramelized Onion, and Goat Cheese; Barbecued Chicken; and Shrimp Pesto.

All recipes and photos reprinted with permission from [another delightful blog].

The Frugal Hostess is wondering -- did you go to Rachel's blog?  Wait, what?  NO?  Are you insane?  Go to there now.
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1 comment:

  1. I've cleaned my oven once in 4 yrs. If I hadn't accidentally used baking soda instead of corn starch in a pie, thus boiling it over into a thick layer of smoldering blackberry on the bottom of the oven, it still wouldn't have ever been cleaned.


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