It had been far too long since the last meeting of the Traveling Pans, so I was beyond thrilled to answer the challenge posed by Amy, our host for the evening: Choose something from the summer harvest, and cook it in a way you've never cooked before. And, to add to the challenge, prepare a beverage to go along with it!
The dishes that we all prepared and enjoyed were beyond compare. But first, the setting: Amy's screened-in porch is the stuff of dreams. And, after five straight days of 100+ temperatures, a breezy evening spent on a porch with friends and good food was just what I needed.
We started with drinks and a few munchies, including a Paloma from Amy (diet Squirt soda, tequila, lime, and grapefruit sugar), cauliflower ceviche that I brought, and watermelon cocktails from Tina.
My challenge was twofold: "uncook" something using lime juice (originally was going to be regular ceviche) and cook something vegan. The cauliflower ceviche recipe from our VZW Dinner was the perfect dish, and was quite a hit! I modified it slightly to be less spicy, using only one jalapeño pepper in place of the serrano.
Tina also brought watermelon rind pickles which were flavored with yuzu and juniper berries. The flavor was indescribable and delicious!
Liz arrived with fresh bread in tow, and some other things that she promised would be delicious.
My mom attended as well, and brought a perfectly refreshing watermelon agua fresca with lime and cherry, and we topped it off with some cold prosecco while lounging at the table with Amy's cat, Jack.
Next on the table were fresh tamales, lovingly made by Eo, who claimed she didn't know if they'd be any good. They were SO fantastic!
We had a brilliant soup course. Literally. The colors in the soup course were amazingly vibrant and the flavors were surprising.
First up was a cold Thai watermelon soup made by Tina, made with watermelon, lemongrass, ginger, red chilis, and salt.
Amy made a cold purple carrot soup topped with grilled kohlrabi and purslane greens. It had a slight curry flavor, and tasted remarkably like the most perfect carrot.
Just look at these together:
Moving on from soup, we enjoyed the tamales with Eo's cucumber margarita, some more "ceviche", Liz's crusty bread and grated tomatoes, and then moved on to dessert.
My mom brought an extremely creative and beautiful dessert involving two kinds of apricots (Angelcots and black apricots), crushed pistachios, a ricotta cream, and absolutely no added sugar. It was phenomenal, and I could probably eat one every day.
Our second dessert course was a deconstructed s'more, with homemade graham crackers, coconut marshmallows, and fudge sauce, all made by Liz.
Unreal. Seriously unreal. I don't know that I've ever had a s'more quite so delicious. We enjoyed some Nitro Milk Stout with our dessert, and while I'm not a beer drinker, this was quite enjoyable! It tasted like a phosphate (chocolate soda).
We don't know what the next meeting of the Traveling Pans will bring, but it surely will be delicious! It was so great to see everyone, and wonderful to eat such delicious homemade foods.