theater party

Theatrical Bruschetta

Theatrical Bruschetta

I volunteered to make party food for the Irvington Theater’s season-kick-off benefit party this weekend. It’s a lovely organization that I’m excited to be a part of—and excited to be bringing some exciting stuff to this often-sleepy town.

I wanted to make a range of finger foods that had some theatrical color and variety and came up with a spread of different bruschetta. There’s an artichoke and parmesan; beet and goat cheese; red pepper and goat cheese and one with plum chutney and prosciutto.

The decision what to make was based, as usual, on what was on hand—and started with those weird green plums we got from the CSA. They were small and sour and no one was eating them so I boiled them with with some sugar, wine and water until they were pulpy and mushy. That’s basically what chutney is. I paired them with their opposite— salty crispy proscuitto fried in a pan and added a thin layer of the goat cheese mixture (goat cheese mixed with cream cheese for extra spreadability) below it all to soften the blow.

The beets were also CSA remnants, which I roasted in tin foil then peeled and mixed with some cider vinegar and salt. The red peppers were even easier—a bottle of roasted red pepper from Costco that I diced and mixed with red wine vinegar, garlic, sugar, pepper flakes, and teaspoon salt. Those also went over the goat cheese spread, although a whipped feta would work too.

Left: Costco bottle pureed vs. right: Cook’s Illustrated recipe

Left: Costco bottle pureed vs. right: Cook’s Illustrated recipe

Finally the artichokes—I used a Cook’s Illustrated recipe that pureed canned artichoke hearts with basil, garlic, olive oil, lemon and parmesan but after realizing that the artichokes I bought in bulk were already swimming in an olive-oil mixture—I tried just pureeing the chokes with a bit of the liquid from the bottle and that worked too (a little more acidic than the original but definitely delicious—and since this version was extra I combined it with some sour cream for a dip I was asked to bring to a Friday night dinner party.


I rounded it out with rosemary roasted nuts that I always make for Thanksgiving, crudite with a green goddess dip (made with all the herbs that were beginning their goodbyes in our garden) and a puff pastry cracker. Plus a couple basic cheeses and olives, all of which cost me a total of less than $100 to make. If it weren’t such a lovely non-profit, I would have quoted a much higher price.


Michael heard Anya Von Bremzen being interviewed on NPR talking about Russian cooking. (She's that awesome cookbook writer/traveler who recently wrote a memoir about her childhood in Cold War Russia.) She was friendly with my old boss and I heard wonderful stories about her travels. But now she is writing about her native Russian cuisine. "What is Russian food?" Michael asked. "Can you make it?"

I found an article about her in Food and Wine along with recipes for her take on Russian classics. The only one that even slightly appealed to me was the Borscht meets Gazpacho.

“I hate Borscht and I hate Gazpacho,” Michael said.

“I know me too....but let’s try it. “

The recipe is here. It’s a beautiful soup that I’d someday like to make for my mother-in-law who stores beautiful pottery in her open kitchen cupboards, instead of plates. It was easy enough to make and tasted like a sweeter gazpacho. I served it with all that smoked fish at brunch with Avi and Brook because it seemed to somehow fit into that Eastern European thing. Nobody really loved it though and it wound up sitting in my fridge, dripping beet colored juice for 3 weeks before I finally threw it away.