Serious Eats: Talk

Family Dinner with Son's Date- Revisited- Parts One – Four

Note: CJ McD originally posted this in four parts; I've consolidated them here to make it easier to read. --AK]

As previously reported, our son has been talking about the young lady he's dating and mentioned several times that he wanted us to meet her. I suggested that they come for dinner. He mentioned that she is a vegetarian and I said, "Great. I'll make lasagna." He said, "Awesome! We've been talking about lasagna for a couple of days..." as he gazed, moony faced and starry eyed. Then he said, "She's kind of nervous about meeting you guys. But I told her she'll like you." (Thank goodness for that.)

We invited them for a casual dinner at six o clock on Saturday. We said come earlier if you'd like and come hungry.

I planned to make a spinach and cremini mushroom lasagna, baby greens with tangerine segments, red onion and citrus dressing, hot French baguette with herb-balsamic dipping oil and a dessert of rasberry and mango sorbets with fresh fruit (pinapple, blue berries, strawberries) and ginger thin wafer cookies.

The week's been busy so I prepped a lot of the ingredients Friday night. Made a marinara sauce, saute'd spinach with alleppo pepper, lots of garlic, olive oil and a little butter. The mushrooms were seasoned, saute'd and there were lots of them.

Friday, 9:00pm-- The pots and bowls were cooling as I brought out the next wave of ingredients. Son McD spied a carton of eggs on the table and said, "Uh....I don't think she eats eggs." We talked about whether she was vegetarian or vegan. He reiterated that she was a vegetarian. But sometimes she eats salmon. And she doesn't eat eggs." Of course, I thought, what kind of vegetarian is that? I asked if she is allergic to eggs. He said he'd check and let me know.

Saturday. 3:30pm. No call from son McD. No answer when I call. So I proceed based on the information currently available.

Luckily I had whole milk ricotta, so I wasn't worried about grainy texture. I tasted it. This stuff was soft and creamy. I mixed it with minced parsley and chives, S&P, a little garlic, and lots of grated parmesan cheese.

To remedy lack of egg and add back the richness factor, I made a bechamel and swirled in some pesto to punch up the fresh basil flavor.

My cheese layers were a blend of parmesan, asiago, provolone and mozzarella. I wanted you to taste the nutty, tangy richness of that cheese combination. My intention was that once completed, this lasagna would have layer after layer of flavor. One bite would tell you it was made with love.

Lasagna assembled, Mr. McD ventured that it was probably a seven or eight pounder. He took a picture of it. I just say it was huge and into the oven it went. This baby was going to take at least an hour, if not one and a half to bake. Not to mention a resting time of at least twenty five minutes before serving. Perfect. Right on schedule.

The fruit was cut into small bites, lightly sugared and returned to the refrigerator, the sorbet was scooped and in serving bowls placed back into the freezer, the dipping oil was prepared and the bread sliced and wrapped in foil, ready for heating. I whisked a citrus dressing together and set it aside to meld. I washed and spun the baby greens, assembling a lovely salad in a big glass bowl. I even had alcohol free wine for the 19 year old beautiful girlfriend.

Residual dishes were washed. The kitchen was restored to order, hair combed, floury apron returned to the closet. The table was set. Nothing fancy, just set. We were ready. Now we could kick back and relax.

Then the phone rang. Son McD. It was 4:30 pm. He asked if I'd gotten his text last night. I asked what time he sent it. 2:00am. I said, "Nope. I don't even think my cell phone is on. What was the message?" He mentioned the egg thing. I told him it wasn't going to be a problem. There were no eggs in the lasagna. He was glad of that and said they had gone to an 80's party, stayed at a friend's place and just woke up. I relayed that we had time flexibility, everything was prepped and if they were a bit behind it would be fine.

O.k.- Anyone who has a moony faced, starry eyed, time challenged 22 year old should know that this is probably not the whole story. There are further developments ahead. And guess what? I called it.

At 6:20 the phone rang. I had my hands in water so let the answering machine pick up. Lo and behold, Son McD. "Hi. We are almost ready... We should be there in just a little while..." (Time is a concept not a reality to this child.) This could mean an hour or a week so I quickly wipe my hands and grab the phone.

"Hi. Sorry we're not there yet. We're still not ready. Beautiful girlfriend is not feeling good and is throwing up and I'm really hung over. I had too much fun at the 80's party and beautiful girlfriend doesn't feel good."

---- My translation: They are both hung over and puking. Great. Teachable moment and lecture pending.

I said, "If you're feeling that rotten and she's "sick" don't come for dinner. But you're missing an awesome meal....
Too bad for you. Next time, if you know you have an invitation, plan ahead. Hope you feel better soon. Love ya. Bye."

So Mr. McD and I feasted on a fabulous meal. He couldn't believe there was no meat in it and he loved it. (Meat's important to Mr. McD)
He had lasagna again today.

Son McD dragged his sorry butt home today and wistfully said how tired he was. Pulleeeeeeeze. Poor baby. Don't even look for a smidgen of sympathy from the mama. Or for lunch. (He works the night shift.) There's food in the refrigerator. Heat something up. (And put your rinsed dishes in the dishwasher.) Mama's got a busy day.

Oh, about the beautiful girlfriend being nervous about meeting us. Well, at least now she has a reason...

(I said that last line with a slightly wicked gleam in my eye....)

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