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On Saturday night, Anthony and I threw our Bermuda Sleighbell Groundhog Day party. Bermuda Sleighbell refers to a drink recipe in which Jamaican ginger beer is mixed with whiskey or rum. The combination- warm, spicy, sweet, but above all, refreshing, was our drink of choice for this party. My favorite was the ginger beer mixed with the $4 champagne from the store around the corner. $4 champagne, when mixed with other, tastier beverages, is not that bad.

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As for the food, we were quite ambitious, as usual. We wanted to make one baked good, and fortunately, I found these instructions for Groundhog Day Cupcakes, which I used as I guide to make the shining stars of the evening. They look slightly evil, but also pretty cute, so they fit in well with the mischief-merry mood of the party. I’ll post my decorating instructions below.

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And finally, this picture illustrates our attempts at making the jerk sauce that we used to marinate vegetables before we roasted them, for our jerk-roasted vegetables side dish. We found a recipe for jerk sauce here, and after doubling it, followed it religiously. (Missing labels in the picture: thyme, black pepper, lime, rum; this picture was taken before we added those ingredients.) Of course, it was INSANELY spicy, just incredibly, painfully, spicy. And we had a whole blender full of it. So we bought some yogurt and mixed spoonfuls of the sauce into a much larger proportion of yogurt, and added some oil, and salt, and then used that sauce to marinate sweet potatoes, parsnips, onions, and regular potatoes. Once we toned down the insane heat, the sauce was pretty delicious; with so many scallions, it was bound to be good. I would recommend NOT doubling the recipe, perhaps adding a little oil to the ingredients before blending, and then mixing the blended paste with yogurt, because the paste will still be spicy. But if you store the paste in a separate container, and mix small quantities with yogurt when needed, you’ve got yourself a handy supply of very good marinade.

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Elana and Janki’s instructions on how to make Groundhog Day Cupcakes, adapted from here. You can use any type of cupcake (chocolate, vanilla, coconut…) as your base, but it should taste good with the coconut filled Almond Joys.

Ingredients

• Baked cupcake
• Almond Joy candy
• White frosting
• White jelly beans
• Chocolate sprinkes
• Watermelon slice candy
• Chocolate chips

Cut out a piece of cake from the center of a baked cupcake. Set the Almond Joy upright in the hole, then spread white frosting on the cupcake.

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For the groundhog’s eyes, cut a white jelly bean in half, use frosting to stick the pieces in place on the groundhog’s face, and then make pupils by sticking one chocolate sprinkle in the center of each halved jelly bean. For the nose, either cut a tiny triangle from a watermelon slice candy (which is difficult) or cut pink jelly beans in half, which is easier and works just as well. For the ears and cheeks, stick chocolate chips on with frosting. Sprinkle chocolate sprinkles around the partially emerged groundhog for dirt. After showing off your creation, eat, but beware of probable sugar highs. These cupcakes are extremely sweet.

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For our dinner with Gabe last week, Anthony and I decided to adapt recipes from the article Nigel Slater’s Vegetarian Feast, which appeared in the Observer before Christmas. I was particularly intrigued by…guess…the “pumpkin cakes,” so of course we made them, though we actually made squash cakes because I couldn’t find any cut and peeled pumpkin. We also made the mushroom with mozzarella and crumbs. Both dishes turned out fabulously.

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The roasted squash cake roll ups celebrated the season in a new way, I thought, by emphasizing wintry tastes in a sandwich. Slater called for pumpkin but I used butternut squash, which I dressed in olive oil, garlic, allspice, and a tiny dash of cayenne (for heat) before roasting. Once the squash was soft and cool, I mashed it into a pulp and, with floury hands, shaped round little patties that I pan fried. I laid down a bed of arugula and onion on the tortillas, placed the hot cakes on top, and drizzled everything with a cooling yogurt-cilantro dressing. The squash was inherently sweet and the spices added a toasty warmth to the little cakes. They worked well nestled in between bitter lettuce and cheeky red onion. The yogurt-cilantro dressing (which would taste good atop a variety of foods) pulled the sandwich together.

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Our mushrooms with mozzarella aren’t much to look at, but they tasted like a walk in the woods while bundled up and warm. Obviously combining mushrooms, onions, and cheese is going to yield delicious results, but the addition of rosemary in this recipe added a piney, forest scent to the sweet earthiness of the baked mushrooms. It made the dish more complexly satisfying than it would have been without the herb, which is awesome considering that mushrooms, onions and cheese are quite possibly the tastiest foods on earth.

Roasted Squash Cake Roll Ups
adapted from the Nigel Slater article

For 4 people, we used the following proportions-

2 packets cut and washed butternut squash from Trader Joe’s (each packet was around 800g)
3-4 cloves minced garlic
1-2 Tbsp. of olive oil, just enough to coat the squash
salt, pepper, allspice, and cayenne to taste
a packet of flour tortillas (we used about 6, but it depends on the appetites of your guests)
a bunch of arugula
1 red onion, sliced

for the dressing:
8 Tbsp. yogurt
1-2 cloves minced garlic (to taste)
2 handfuls of cilantro, chopped fine

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Put squash in a bowl and coat with just enough oil to cover each piece. Add garlic, salt, pepper, allspice, and cayenne and mix well. Spread pieces on a pan and bake for 50 minutes-an hour, until the squash is soft and easily squashable with a fork.

Take out of oven and let cool. Mix lettuce and onion and set aside.

In a bowl, mix yogurt, garlic, and cilantro and taste for salt. Put in fridge after mixing.

With a fork, mash all the cooled squash in a bowl. Using generously floury hands, form small round patties with all the squash. Warm a non-stick pan over medium heat and cook the patties for a few minutes on each side. They should become a little brown. In the same pan, warm each tortilla by flipping it a few times, just so it’s not very cold from the fridge.

Assemble and eat your squash cake roll ups by spreading the salad mixture on your warmed tortillas, placing the patties on top, drizzling the cilantro yogurt dressing, rolling up the tortilla, and biting into deliciousness.

Mushroom with Mozzarella and Crumbs
from the Nigel Slater article (so just find the recipe there because we didn’t change it much).

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