Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Adventure Wednesday with an Indian Dinner Party!

After a day full of accomplishing a bunch of tasks that had been hanging over my head, I feel great.  Isn't it funny how scratching something off a list feels so... empowering?  I've felt empowered in general, lately, and I think that is because - as I mentioned on Twitter this weekend - I've been feeling more and more authentically myself.  I seem to be doing more of what drives me and makes me passionate, and it's very fulfilling.

It turns out that one of those things is a new project I've been working on with Tom.  It's not exactly new, per se.  We've been throwing theme parties for almost as long as we've been together.  (It wasn't something either of us did before we were together, but I think it's something that we bring out in each other.)  We've done Oscar parties with dishes themed to the best picture nominees.  We've hosted our own short film fest, where all of our dishes were "small" foods to accompany the small movies.  We are, quite frankly, a bit nerdy about themes.

So I guess it's not too surprising that after the luncheon we hosted earlier this year (when we discovered how fun it was to plan a party meal under 600 calories - but still stuffing our guests with delicious food) we craved... more.  More dinner parties.  More themes.  More unique combinations under 600 calories.  And so, our supper club was born.

Welcome to Supper Club 600... a series of themed meals under 600 calories. Over the next... (well, I don't know how long, but so far we have ideas that will probably take us through a few years) Tom and I will curate and create these dinners for our fellow lovers of good food and good company.

Our first (or second, if you consider March's non-themed) edition of SC600 was held in celebration of Tom's birthday.  And since Tom's favorite cuisine is Indian food, the meal was built around his favorite Indian recipe, samosa-stuffed potatoes, which I shared here in April.

That's right... if you took exactly the serving sizes listed above, you'd have a full plate - and a full stomach - for 595 calories.  And while that's on the upper end of a meal size if you're reducing your calories, it's perfectly feasible if you plan for it.  (For instance, that day I had about 350 calories for breakfast, and 450 for lunch, landing me at my goal of about 1400.)  If you're aiming for ~2000 calories a day, 600 is about the size of a meal to aim for if you eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and a 200 calorie snack.

Here is what 595 calories of Indian goodness looks like.  (Less, actually - no cake pop or chai in the picture!)
Photo courtesy of David

It was great fun preparing for the party.  Tom used his brand new spice grinder to make homemade garam masala, a spice blend frequently used in Indian cuisine.  I think that the freshly-toasted and -ground spices made the dal (a savory lentil stew) extra delicious.

I'm a nut for decorating to theme despite our budget limitations, so I cobbled together some things I already had (plus some flowers from TJ's and pair of inexpensive table linens from India Sweets and Spices - where I had a previous Wednesday adventure.)

The table spread, prior to setting up the second table. 
Photo courtesy of Rochelle

Thank goodness Rochelle & David took photos; by the time the guests arrived, I was completely wrapped up in hostessing!

At the table with our very funny friends, Samantha, Lindsay and Kyle.
Photo courtesy of David

A big bowl-o-cauliflower, plus the hands and/or chests of Tom, Brendan, Cynthia and myself.
Photo courtesy of David

It seemed to me like Tom's homemade tamarind chutney was the hit of the meal!  Our adorable pal Keith recommended that we try putting it on our cauliflower, which I'd never attempted before.  What an amazing combination of flavors!  Keith also led the rally to try the tamarind with the fruit salad.  His appreciation inspired us to try another tamarind recipe for our next SC600... more on that later!  For now, here's the recipe for the chutney:

3 tb of tamarind paste
2 cups of water
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds

In a saucepan, mix the tamarind paste into the water over medium heat until dissolved.  Turn the heat up and bring to a boil.  Add sugar and stir to dissolve.  Reduce heat and simmer until it is reduced by half - it will be thick enough to coat the spoon.  Grind the seeds and stir into the chutney.  Cool before serving - it will thicken considerably as it cools.

Once everyone had finished their meal, we passed around the coconut cake pops I had made for the occasion.  As I mentioned yesterday, I had trouble resisting eating more than my share of these, but I only had one for dinner.

Our lovely friends David and Rochelle, before their first-ever cake pop!
Photo courtesy of David

I think others enjoyed them as much as I did... we heard Lindsay say "Heidi, what did you do to me!?"  It made my night.  And now, these little coconut wonders can make your night, too.  Here's my recipe, sans photo essay because I was too busy whipping our party into shape to photograph!  If you'd like visual examples, you can check out some of my previous Cake Pop Quest photos.

Cake Base Ingredients
One box of cake mix, (preferably Trader Joe's Vanilla Baking Mix)
4 ounces of fat free plain Greek yogurt
4 ounces of unsweetened applesauce
3 egg whites
1 cup light coconut milk (preferably Trader Joe's)

Frosting Ingredients
4 ounces of butter
8 ounces of powdered sugar
2 tb plus 2 tsp light coconut milk (preferably Trader Joe's)
1 tsp coconut extract

Coating Ingredients
1 bag of Wilton (or other) Candy Melts. (Do not use white or regular chocolate; it will not coat smoothly.)
Unsweetened coconut flakes

Make the cake base. Blend the yogurt, applesauce, egg whites and coconut milk together with a stand or hand mixer, until smooth.  Add the cake mix and blend until smooth.  Bake for 40-45 minutes at 350.  Cool overnight or for 8 hours.

After cake has cooled, assemble the frosting.  Bring butter to room temperature. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar to the butter and beat well, then add coconut milk.  When smooth, add coconut extract and blend until smooth.

Using two forks, scrape the cooled cake, creating crumbs until it's fully separated with no clinging edges or large clumps. Add the frosting (though, I found that the full amount was too much so I reserved a quarter-cup. Maybe try to throw it away instead of eating it.)  Work the cake and frosting together until it is an even consistency - squishy like clay.

With a tablespoon scoop, dole out 55 even portions of the cake/frosting mixture.  Roll each between your palms to create the cake balls.  Insert lollipop sticks, and freeze for at least 2 hours.

Melt half the Candy Melts in a double-boiler, and transfer to a small bowl that allows you to fully submerge a cake pop.  Dip half of the cake pops, and roll in 1/2 tsp unsweetened coconut flakes.  Place the pop stick in a block of dry florist foam (I've found this is the ideal way to store and transport.)  Repeat with the second half of the candy melts, coconut, and pops.

Finished pop!
Photo courtesy of David

Tom had a birthday request, to watch Samuel Fuller's Shock Corridor after dinner, so the guests who stayed got exposed to the weird and wonderful B-movie, with plenty of mental patients, gnawing nymphos, white pants, and hallucinatory feather boas.  We've decided we'll be embarking on a retrospective of Fuller's career, because it's just too fun to watch with friends.

We had a terrific time planning, prepping, and entertaining our guests.  (Actually, they entertained us!)  And the next morning, we woke up brimming with ideas for our very next Supper Club 600.  Keep your eye out for some announcements soon!

I'll be back tomorrow with a special edition wedding-anniversary entry.  Fair warning: you might want to come armed with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee to wash away the sweetness.

Enjoy your own Wednesday adventure today - and keep taking care of you!


  1. What a delicious looking meal! I am sure it was even better to eat! I have had a hankering for Indian food for a while and this may force me address it. Yum :) Can't wait to hear about the next SC600.

  2. You forgot POOH-BERTY! XD

    (Om nom nom cake pops!)

  3. Nymphos! More Nymphos! #whitepants

  4. I had so much fun! Thank you for inviting us! Hopefully we'll be able to stay for the whole thing next time. :P

    Those cake pops were divine. Next time I'm called upon to make a dessert, I will be making cake pops. Thanks for posting recipes!

  5. I absolutely adore lentils, so I think I may look up dal recipes!

    I'm a new follower of your blog and I want to let you know that you're awesome! Thanks for writing.