so many recipes, too many painkillers

Everyone is now happily back in their school routines,  dinner club has been hosted and my dad has been successfully surprised for his 75th birthday (and Ross's 49th birthday-their big days are back to back).  Time for a little breathing room, right?  Time to catch up on my little blog and the backlog of recipes I need to post.  But alas, I had oral surgery Tuesday and let's just say I underestimated how that would go.  Thankfully the doctor called that evening and I agreed to have him call in a painkiller just to be safe.  I'm not sure if they never told me or if I just didn't want to remember, but the sawing of bone and stitching of tissue turned out to be (duh) intensely painful.   You know, the kind of painful that wakes you and demands your attention (kind of like my cat if I don't barricade the door except he is not painful, just needy).  I'm not sure Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" is the perfect movie to watch when you are light sedated, but I gave that a run from four in the morning until it was time to "wake up" and get Sara off to school.  

Lost another day yesterday as I let the painkillers "take the edge off", as my doctor said they would.   Does he mean that as in, take the edge off and some of the brain while you are at it?  Useless and stupid.  Sara was pretty tolerant.  She usually has no patience for anyone functioning at anything less than a high level.  Particularly not me.  And really I'm not sure she's ever known me as "smart".  Those days are twenty years and two kids in the distant past.  I remember them fondly.

All right, if you didn't pass out in my introductory paragraph then let's move on to some food talk, shall we?  Dinner club comes to our home once a year and I'll just come clean and own the fact that I'm a control freak.  No where more so than in my kitchen, so despite all the generous offers to help I usually do all of the cooking.  So please don't feel like you need to tackle an entire menu that I might suggest.  I love to cook.  I have the time.  My kids are both legal adults (not that that little factoid reduces the laundry and cleaning or anything because I'm also and enabler).  I do not work outside the home.  And like I said, I'm a control freak.

I could not settle on a dinner club plan until I had an epiphany enjoying my third order of food from a "tapas" restaurant's booth at the tennis tournament in Cincinnati last Thursday.  Possibly visiting the same booth three times is a little obsessive, but it was perfect food for a hot day of hanging with the tennis ladies and working my way to the front row to take some pictures.  Good times.

American Mardy Fish and his abs.  He could use some of my food in the off-season.

Tammy and I split an order of empanadas with chorizo, potato and peppers served with romesco sauce.  Possibly they got their recipe from Epicurious just like I did click here for the recipe .  The only difference is that these yummy little pies are baked and not fried.  Thank goodness.  The dough chills for an hour while you make the filling.  I assembled and baked the little pies the day before dinner club and heated them in the oven covered with foil the night of the party.

The restaurant served them with romesco sauce which is one of my favorite savory flavor combinations:  almonds, roasted red peppers and garlic (among other things).  I whipped up a batch from a recipe I've had for ten years (vintage) and served the sauce with the empanadas and some delicious breaded and baked Parmesan zucchini sticks.  The romesco sauce complemented both dishes well as it does for fish, chicken, pasta and breads too.  Yummm.  Add it to your repertoire.  Easy way to add some depth of flavor.

my empanadas

My "tapas" menu also featured the OMG yogurt-herb marinated chicken skewers (see the July posts) with tzatziki sauce, korean beef tacos, caprese salad and a rice/grain salad from a recipe book from The Frog/Commissary Restaurants in Philadelphia (back in the day 20 years ago when my headquarters were in Philly and not in my kitchen).  I had some great farmer's market peaches I marinated in amaretto and layered with soft almond cookies and mascarpone cheese whipped with honey.  For tonight let's go with the romesco sauce and zucchini stick recipes.   BTW I did let a guest get all messy and help me bread the zucchini.  You can't really make them ahead and I can ask for help on occasion.

Romesco Sauce

1/3 C slivered/sliced blanched almonds, toasted
1 thick slice of hearty white bread, toasted
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 C roasted red peppers, drained and chopped (bottled ones from Trader Joe's are great)
2 T red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 C olive oil

almonds, bread, pepper flakes, salt in food processor

Toast almonds in a heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring until lightly browned (3-5 min).  Use the same pan to toast the bread brushed with a little olive oil/garlic olive oil.  Tear the bread into smaller pieces.  Place almonds, bread, garlic and red pepper flakes in a food processor bowl and pulse to chop until fine.  Add roasted red peppers, vinegar and salt and process until smooth.  Add olive oil with the motor running until well blended.  Sauce can be served room temperature, chilled or warmed.
roasted red peppers added

finished romesco sauce

Parmesan Zucchini Sticks

3 large zucchini
1 1/2 C panko breadcrumbs
1/4 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
cooking spray and/or olive oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray baking sheet or jelly roll pan with cooking spray or brush on a thin coat of olive oil (cooking spray leaves a baked on sticky residue and I try to avoid ruining my pans).  Halve zucchini crosswise and cut each half lengthwise into 8 wedge-shaped sticks.  Toss panko, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a shallow pie dish.  Lightly beat eggs in another shallow dish (you can use 1/2 C egg substitute or one egg and one white if you are trying to be real "light").  Dip zucchini in egg and then dredge in crumb mixture.  Place on prepared sheets.  Spray with cooking spray if you like.  I didn't and mine were still crunchy and delicious.  Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes until golden brown.  Serve immediately.

serve up some zucchini sticks!


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