Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Murder Mystery Dinner
I have never been one to go all out for Halloween. However, lately I feel like any excuse to dress up or throw a party needs to be taken full advantage of. This year, Zach and I hosted a murder mystery dinner party entitled "Pasta, Passion & Pistols". We bought a box set that included everything from the invitations to character descriptions and booklets to follow with a CD. The box even provided menu suggestions (which I opted not to take).
There were eight sketchy dinner guests in all, and each (with the exception of two) were suspected of MURDER:
I will not give anything away, but I will say I was impressed with some of the character performances. I would suggest a murder mystery dinner party to anyone. It was a really great time. The setting was an Italian family gathering in 'Mama Rosa's' restaurant after the murder of her husband, "Pepe Roni".
The menu consisted of:
Lemony Garlic Green Beans
Store-bought Halloween Cupcakes
I literally had no time to cook on Saturday so the responsibility fell on Zach. He prepared the pumpkin lasagna which is the recipe i am posting. There are a few things I would change about the recipe, but overall, it was a really interesting dish.
In Loving Memory Pumpkin Lasagna:
(recipe from Food Network Magazine)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 to 6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 lb spicy Italian sausage, casings removed*
1/2 cup red wine
1 28-ounce can tomato sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 16-ounce box lasagna noodles
1 large egg
2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese (this was way too much ricotta...I would probably use about 1 1/2 C next time)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Romano cheese
1 large zucchini, very thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pumpkin puree in a fine sieve over a bowl; set aside to drain while you make the sauce.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 2 more minutes. Add the sausage and cook until brown, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Pour in the wine and cook until reduced by half. Stir in the tomato sauce and herbs and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the lasagna noodles and cook as the label directs. Drain and toss with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil.
Mix the strained pumpkin puree with the egg in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella and the romano.
Build your lasagna in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish: Start with a layer of sauce, then top with a layer of noodles. Evenly spread half of the pumpkin filling over the noodles.
Then spread half of the sliced zucchini, over the noodles.
Top with half of the cheese mixture and cover with some of the sauce.
Repeat the layers, finishing with noodles and sauce; sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella.
Bake, uncovered, 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly. Let cool 15 minutes before slicing.
Serve with a nice big Italian-style salad. This one was made with tomatoes, green olives, onion, pine nuts, feta cheese, shaved Parmesan, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
*Zach made a separate lasagna without the sausage by just following the exact recipe and leaving it out. I tasted it later, and it was fine. However, the dish is better with the strong flavor of the sausage so if you leave it out, you may want to use more strong-flavored cheese like the Romano along with more herbs and spices to make up for it.
I wish the pictures were better, but my camera only does so well when lit by candlelight. Using the flash just didn't capture the mood.