An Inspiring Evening (+ Zucchini Goat Cheese Tian)
Hi friends! I've missed you all!! I apologize for my silence on the blog. I promise I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. The past few weeks, I've been pouring every drop of my energy into a very exciting project (that I'll be able to tell you about very soon!), but it's left me emotionally and physically unable to do much else right now. It's killing me not to spill the beans, but in the mean time, thanks for bearing with me during these lapses in blog posts. Good things are around the corner...!
First off, I want to give a huge thanks to all of you who donated to my friend Brienne's LLS Fundraiser! She still has a long way to go to reach her goal, but every little bit helps. And...congrats to the winners of the drawing: Liz Piper, Lynne Hess, and Elizabeth Fischer Laurie will all receive signed copies of my cookbook! Please email me your addresses, and I'll get them in the mail to you in June (still waiting for my advance copies to come in).
Y'all. I have to tell you about THE most dreamy dinner party I helped host last night. I am still floating. Remember my post a few months ago called Creating Community, One Meal at a Time? I was talking about how I really love connecting with other bloggers, and that I want to start hosting dinners to create real life connections between people who just know each other online. Well, my fellow food blogger friends Phoebe Lapine, Serena Wolf, and Amie Valpone, all shared my vision, and we decided to create an event to gather other NYC food bloggers together for a meal. In the spirit of collaboration, we decided to make it a potluck, so everyone could bring a dish – and a story behind it! – to share.
What happens when you get a bunch of food bloggers together? They cook, obviously!
Since space is such an issue in NYC, I reached out to my friend Elisa, the owner of Maman (the most adorable French cafe right down the street from me) to see if she'd be interested in collaborating with us. Her space is gorgeous, and she loves hosting dinner parties as much as I do. She was totally up for it, and said that her friend Candice, an artist who designed all of Maman's graphics (logo, cups, paper goods) would love to make invites and name cards. AND she said that her pastry chef Vanessa would provide the desserts. Amazing!
I reached out to my talented friend Chinae Alexander (you've seen her work on the blog here) to see if she'd like to do the flowers and table styling, and asked if the one and only Signe Birck would take photos. Yes and yes! And finally, all we needed was wine. Obviously for a summer gathering, the beverage of choice is rosé (specifically very pale rosé from Provence!), so I reached out to Wines of Provence to see if they'd like to be a sponsor. Lo and behold, they did! Now all we needed were guests...
Any party with a bucket full of rosé is a good party, indeed.
We wanted to keep the first gathering small enough so we could all sit around the table and actually get to know each other. We reached out to a small group of bloggers (most of whom I didn't know) and were amazed at the positive response. People seemed to really like the idea of having a chance to connect with each other! We were thrilled to have Julie Resnick from Feed Feed, Jodi Moreno from What's Cooking Good Looking, Miranda Hammer of The Crunchy Radish, Lily Kunin of Clean Food Dirty City, Ali Stafford from Alexandra Cooks, Judy Kim of The Judy Lab, and Leanne Brown, author of Good and Cheap. What an inspiring group of ladies! And boy can they cook...oh my gosh, the spread of food was out of this world! We had everything from roasted chicken with ramp chimichurri, a chilled pea mint soup, beet dip with tahini sauce and heirloom carrots, crispy potatoes with harissa, bluefish salad with microgreens...certainly not your average potluck!!
I wanted to make something Provencal to pair with the rosé, so I made a zucchini, basil, and goat cheese tian (recipe below!) and roasted cod with tomatoes and black olive tapenade. The whole meal was so fresh and summery, and the company was so inspiring – I truly didn't want the evening to end! We all lingered around the table until after 11, and finally had to force ourselves to clean up and say our goodbyes.
My impromptu zucchini, basil, and goat cheese tian - recipe below.
I'm not sure what it is about gathering people around the table, but I get a total high from it. Despite all the planning and coordinating and hours of work (all of which are really fun for me!), I seriously cannot get enough. And I especially love collaborative dinners like last night, – where everyone contributes their gifts and talents to make it happen. There's an incredible energy created from gathering like these, and I cannot wait to host more.
After the party, I walked home at nearly midnight, carrying 5 bags and a big casserole dish through the streets of Manhattan, with the hugest grin on my face. I feel so blessed to be able to do what I love, and to be part of an incredible community of women working in food. We are so much better working together than alone – I hope our #friendsinfood gathering inspires you to host similar gatherings in your own cities. Let me know if you do - would love to see a movement take root!
P.S. I'm not sharing many pictures from the evening, because I want to share all of Signe's gorgeous shots later! This is just a tease...
ZUCCHINI GOAT CHEESE TIAN
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, peeled and halved lengthwise
5 large zucchini
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 thyme springs
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup finely chopped basil, divided
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch ceramic or glass baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and rub the sides with the garlic clove halves. Set aside.
Using a mandoline, thinly slice the zucchini and pile into the baking dish. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and season well with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Gently press the zucchini into the dish and sprinkle with the thyme sprigs. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the foil and discard the thyme springs. Crumble half the goat cheese over the zucchini and season again with salt and pepper, stirring to combine. Gently press down again with a spatula. Sprinkle with half of the basil, the remaining goat cheese, and the Parmesan. Bake, uncovered for 30 more minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated, and the top is golden brown. Let cool for 20-30 minutes and garnish with the remaining fresh basil. Serve warm or at room temperature.
MAKE AHEAD: Make this a day ahead and cool completely. Store, covered, in the refrigerator, and reheat at 375 until warm.