Party Planning Day 1: Hummus and Eggplant Spread

I am SO Martha Stewart.

Lauren and I are having our traditional psychic twin birthday bash this Friday (for those late to the game: we were born 3 hours apart in the same hospital and didn’t meet until college) and with 16 people already RSVPed and other late bloomers, I felt I better get cracking on food ideas. So I decided to make 5 different dips. Dips are good party food because you and your conversation partner can have a shared visceral experience–the lowering of the arm, the scoop, the lift, and the bite. Dips bring people together.

At my party, though, hummus eaters will be forced to stick together—there’s so much garlic in here, they’d have to suck a mint tree to ever make themselves kissable again. But check out the contents of my hummus: (well not my hummus, The Barefoot Contessa’s hummus–all my dips come from her cookbooks! She’s the ultimate party food go-to person):

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I made this picture really big and clickable because (a) I really like the way it came out and (b) it tells you everything you need to know about the BC’s hummus. Here’s what goes in it. Just take all the following, throw it in your food processor and process and then you have it:

2 cups canned chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved

1 1/2 tsps kosher salt

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)

6 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)

2 Tbs water or liquid from the chickpeas

8 dashes Tabasco sauce

That’s it!

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Now when I tell you this hummus is packed with flavor, I mean it more than Seal means it when he sings: “I’VE BEEEN KISSED BY A ROSE ON THE GRAVE.” (What does that mean, anyway?) It positively crackles with lemon and garlic and tabasco–but in a great way. In fact, I’m scared I barely made enough for the party. I think this is going to go WAY fast. I better buy more chickpeas tomorrow.

(Then again, I have 4 more dips to go. Well the Eggplant spread is done too—let’s talk about that now.)

Eggplant spread. This is the healthy dip. (It’s not a dip, it’s a spread.) Quiet, they don’t know that. (Respect your audience, punk.) Sorry.

This one’s also really easy to make. You cut up vegetables, roast them, and put them in the processor. Since I’m feeling generous, I’ll give you the specifics.

1 medium eggplant, peeled

2 red bell peppers, seeded

1 red onion, peeled

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 Tbs good olive oil

1 1/2 tsps kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbs tomato paste

(OOH SHIT I FORGOT TO ADD THE TOMATO PASTE AT THE END THAT’S WHY IT DIDN’T COME OUT TASTING RIGHT I’M A TOTAL IDIOT)

Umm.

Ok. With that said, you preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion into 1-inch cubes. Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet.

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Roast for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft, tossing once during cooking. Cool slightly. Place the vegetables in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the tomato paste (SHIT I TOTALLY FORGOT TO DO THAT) and pulse 3 or 4 times to blend. Taste for salt and pepper. (I DID THAT.)

Well here’s the pretty result, minus tomato paste. I think it tastes really good. Maybe I can work the tomato paste in there somehow before the party:

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And those are tonight’s dips. What dip will I make tomorrow? Well, if I can find cayenne pepper somewhere in my day (I have a busy day tomorrow) it will be pan-fried onion dip. Then, the day of, I’ll make sun dried tomato dip and guacamole. And maybe an almond cake. I’m the most generous party thrower ever. (Well, I have a reputation to uphold! Now everyone’s like “You have a fancy food website, let’s see you cook, cookboy!” So I have to do it. I must. Ok, it’s late. I’m off to bed.)

P.S. I forgot to include this picture in the above post, but at Gristedes tonight there was this crazy corn puppet show that took place over the produce. Lisa was terrified by it:

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The corn came alive and said “Eating fresh vegetables is part of a healthy diet!” How and when and why this was thought up, I have no idea, but it’s really–umm–quirky marketing. David Lynch meets Walt Disney by way of Orville Redenbacher.

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