Tag Archives: Dinner party

Repost: Put A Egg On It’s Cake Project

27 Jan

Photo by Sarah Frances Keough

In the middle of this nasty New York winter storm, I’m reading like Hermione Granger and missing the warmth of the South more than ever. I’m particularly pining for my trip to New Orleans with Put a Egg On It, which taught me more about cocktail making and my own passion for food than any old stack of books. Read up on how people party in the Crescent City.


Recipe: Smoked Pumpkin

21 Oct

The ridiculously subtle autumn breeze is upon me, and that means finding fun ways to eat vegetables. Green beans with orange slices, soybeans with buttermilk, and the last of summer zucchini roasted with lemon and pecans. I’ve had these cheese pumpkins (that sounds so gross), and Sunday night dinner was the right time for them. They’ve got a melon-sweet smell and beautiful (and yes, like cheddar cheese) color. Taking apart the pumpkin took me three knives and lots of slasher film-inspired jokes.


I’ve been putting a lot of vegetables in the smoker (cauliflower is great, so are tomatoes and carrots), but this is a way to take the pumpkin in a new light. The end result is blistery and woody, perfect for the sweet heat of a cinnamon-brown butter.

For smoking chips, I used peach wood chips, soaked in water for half an hour.

1 3-5-pound cheese pumpkin
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
8 Tbsps (1 stick) butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 Tbsp light brown sugar.

To “butcher” pumpkin: slice into pumpkin top to remove stem. Begin to scoop out pumpkin membranes and seeds, reserving for roasting and snacking. Once pumpkin cavity is clean, slice pumpkin into 1-inch slices along the skin’s creases. Place slices onto a flat sheet of aluminum foil and sprinkle 1 tsp salt in each pouch. Fold up the sides of the sheet into a pouch-like pocket, leaving pumpkin skin and flesh exposed to air.

In a smoker, place woodchips directly onto lit charcoal embers. When they give off a scent (after about 10 minutes), place pumpkin pouches on two separate racks. Roast for 2 hours.

While roasting, light a grill and turn to medium-high. Arrange slices skin-side down and grill 3 minutes per side. Remove and reserve.

In a medium saute pan, melt butter on low heat. When the milk solids and foam subside, add remaining salt to butter. Continue to watch butter as it turns brown, making sure it doesn’t burn. Once it has reached a brown color (about five minutes), remove from heat and add cinnamon and brown sugar. To serve, arrange pumpkin slices in a casserole dish and spoon brown sugar-brown butter over slices.


Smoke up, Johnny.

All photos by Tommy Werner

“I Want the Whole Plate to Be Brown”

28 Aug

Chicken ‘n waffles. A clash of titans.

A pitting pair that makes me think of the following:

Israel and Palestine. Superman and Lex Luthor. Santa and the Easter Bunny.

Should they be getting along? Nature would dictate no, but taste buds seem to defy nature. Though I scratched my scalp when I first heard about the harmonization of the two, I’ve since given it a try. And it seems that there’s no going back.

The first dinner party of the school year revolved around an evening of chicken ‘n waffles. Motown remixes and Curtis Mayfield blared while I heated up peanut oil in a whooping cast-iron skillet. The voices of the Jackson sons crackled along with the crispy pops of frying chicken.

Gutenberg, our waffle press, sent off 8 inch diameter pecan waffles like a newspaper on deadline. Ben, waffler de cuisine, opened the clamp like a car trunk.

Meanwhile, I’m dredging buttermilk-soaked chicken breasts into a famous flour mixture. It’s Memphis fried chicken, Detroit Soul, and Canadian Maple Syrup, all from the whitest guys on George Street. The batter’s clinging and splitting from the frying chicken, making what I call “healthier cuts.” As the cooking went on, the batter got better, or at least more cooperative and crispy.

Syrup is where the most indecision occurs for an already indecisive meal.

“Syrup, on the whole thing?”

It’s really best all over the creation. I know some people have developed a liking for sausage and maple syrup, so it’s of a similar nature. Salty, sweet, it’s kind of a classic combination.

A Tabasco-infused maple syrup would be worth trying in the future. I imagine it’s only a matter of time before Williams & Sonoma scoops up the pair and makes its own version to sell with Cuisinarts.

Henry Clay, famous compromiser, would have been so proud of the union between two equally tan and delicious eats. Anyone else would be proud of the family we have going.

09/25Edit: For a real clash of titans with a triple lindy combination, Twisted Taco in Atlanta offers a taco stuffed with waffle strips, chicken tenders, and a maple syrup cream cheese. From Texas to Mexico to Georgia to Belgium: consider yourself stuffed.

Pedantic Pasta

26 Jan

My first cooking class.

Williams & Sonoma is a classic example of how accessible my favorite places are in the wonderful place I live, and why going with that little you-should-really-try-this-out-instead-of-saying-you-will-one-day is truly as rewarding as it seems. I’d like to be Dr. Seuss when I cook, but when I feel like being James Bond, there are few places that I’d rather hang out in than the clean yet inviting oak cabinets and Le Creuset containers that dot the store’s floor.

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It ought to be called Pink Friday

26 Nov

I wonder what Pepto Bismol sales are like around now. I ought to buy stock in mid-October and wouldn’t need a Christmas bonus.

I had some great food and learned some new items to go onto the To-Cook list, namely, a croissant wrapped brie & jam creation. It was pretty simple and quite awesome, and so I’ll certainly being bringing it around for French night.

Though the food is always great at Thanksgiving, I really like the conversation and little social aspects, whether it’s wine-soaked advice or learning to “turkey tango” with my sister (for the record, the turkey tango is a deceptively simple dance that involves about faces at unannounced times). I don’t see how people can be cynical about the holidays when they’re this interesting and also have unpredictable dance moves.

Often times, family and friend get togethers are about reintroducing and catching-up, but often for me, they’re the first introduction. At many reunions, I’ve had people come up to me who I’ve apparently met before. It’s sort of like the Bourne Identity: “Hi, Tommy, I’m (such and such). I used to hold you as a child, and yes, I am related to you.” I like meeting new people, even if I’ve probably met them before. It can sometimes be as disorienting as the turkey tango.

Anyways, I had some good chats with people I hadn’t met before and am not in fact related to. I got talking about Google Alerts, Linkedin, and other communications dork-out topics with someone that works in advertising. She does a lot of cool work around here, and I think my technological knowledge has improved a lot more than if just played Nintendo Wii. She and I got to talking about the creative industry, Guy Fiego (eh…), and the food review. She raised a really great point: they’re kind of boring. She said that she’s tired of reading food reviews that are just “Wow. I just had a great steak, and here’s what it was like.”

I think that the food review has gotten a little dull. It needs to be more dynamic and get into why the food’s great. I think a review with more action and emphasis on the cooking and prep would be more fun to read. Which is more appetizing-a description of that steak sitting next to potatoes, or the searing and sizzling of it? The process behind the food is what makes it great, and too often are we all getting into the crunch instead of the cook. The chemistry and action of that steak coming together would be more informative and holistic, and we all like holistic food. There are a thousand and one ways to prepare a dinner, there’s only one way to eat it.

It’s sort of like Thomas Aquinas-not getting sacrilegious-but once you understand something, you tend to appreciate and enjoy it more. I like to know the how of something, not just the what. Reading a bad review of a steak makes you not want to go to this particular restaurant-but if you get into what made it bad, the how is it bad, then the restaurant might be encouraged to change its act, and then you know how to not cook a steak.

So True

21 Oct


This is how I felt with the ambrosia salad I took to Cougar Media’s potluck. On the way over the sectioned citrus, coconut and endive flakes swam around apathetically in a dressing with algae like parsley. I stirred it up and tentatively placed it next to the chicken nugget tray and ubiquitous pasta salad.

“Tommy this is really good!”

Whew. My roommate said it was rather springy tasting, so I feel like it’s something I’ll bring back, though it needs a better presentation. Maybe in a big wooden bowl brought by a cow.

Idea Potluck

17 Oct

I now realize how loose of a word “dinner party” can be. One thing I really like about them is just how different each one is from the next.
The one I went to yesterday was a rather surreal experience. I met my friend Shateara on the street because she would not tell me to whose house we were heading to. A silver car pulled up and two other people were walking towards it, too.

“Are you heading to Lauren’s?”

“I guess so.”

Introductions based in ambiguity are always a bit confusing for me. Usually, I try to make some kind of pleasantry.

“Hi, I’m Tommy, and apparently you’re kidnapping me and taking me somewhere. I don’t where it is, but I’m glad to be here and it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

We drove at least 10 blocks all the way through the slums, took turns here and there and arrived on a long street with a very inconsistent cast of houses. There was a Thunderbird parked in one driveway, and a magical cat guarding another.
We finally pulled up to the right house which had Christmas lights adorning the heavy foliaged yard. It was kind of like an electric Jurassic park.
The hostess wore square spectacles and greeted everyone while her friend Sam quietly stood and politely nodded at guests from the kitchen’s aura. I must say, Lauren was really a pleasure to meet. She had a lot of interesting things to say and made some fascinating dishes for the party goers.

She made baked kale (which reminded me of crispy lettuce); had a tray with a creamy white cheddar-ish cheese as well as honeycomb and blue cheese (which were fantastic when eaten together); guacamole; artichokes (very arduous to eat an unprepared artichoke); figs (my favorite thing there that I finally learned to eat correctly); as well as some donated items from other friends: cake batter cookies; gourmet wraps; black beans and lemon rice; and artichoke pasta salad. Quite an eclectic and interesting spread.

The food and drink was really good, but I always like the conversation and chatter that goes along with it. I think it was a very interesting summit of people in a potluck of food and ideas. It was a dramatic spectrum: from an undecided freshman to a eloquent senior philosophy major.

I think part of the reason why I take so long to eat is because I like talking and asking questions.

After the smorgasbord, we all came out of the scattered pockets of the living room and sat in a circle. We passed around a cast swan that held questions in it, and we took turns answering these different ones.

“Do you think people should wear stilettos all the time?”

“Is impossible to not force your beliefs on someone?”

“What do you want more of in your life?”

Responses could be rapid fire or spurn on long discussions. I had been to one of these before, but I really liked how much it challenges your beliefs. It’s not about putting on a show and trying to be insightful, for me these potlucks are all about thinking about what I think.

The event really reminded me of a militia or how the patriots fought in the Revolution: spring up out of nowhere but really make an impact.