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Saturday night, Jan hosted a red themed dinner party at his place in the city. The idea is that we’re all still learning to cook and that the challenge of making food in a specific color group likely demands that we learn new strategies and dishes. I said I’d bring the appetizer and dessert.

Figuring out which appetizer to bring was easy – I have a favorite recipe for roasted red pepper dip (link here) and I bought some sun dried tomato tortillas and baked them to make chips.

Dessert was much more difficult. While it would be easy to just add red food coloring and be done with it, I decided to impose a no artificial coloring rule on myself, in the spirit of learning something new. I considered raspberry mousse, strawberry cake, or some kind of berry reduction sauce, but I discovered a couple issues with each one.

Raspberry mousse or berry reduction sauces require pureed berries be pressed through a strainer to get rid of the seeds. I have no strainer. Mousse also requires an electric beater (or at least a whisk), neither of which I have either. Strawberry cake requires cake pans that I don’t have – and each recipe I found called for a box of strawberry gelatin – thus transgressing the no food coloring rule. So I came up with pink desserts instead.

The star of the show ended up being the little food processor that Gene bought me for Christmas years ago. I used it to make Strawberry Ice Cream with berries I packed up and froze this past summer. The recipe calls for far more sugar and half & half than I ended up using, but the ice cream still came out good.

I paired the ice cream with mini layer cakes – chocolate with raspberry buttercream frosting. Since I don’t have large cake pans, I made tiny circles in my muffin tin instead. Once again, the mixer did a great job processing the frosting. The cake was my very favorite no oil, no egg brownie recipe and the frosting was a standard vanilla frosting recipe with a handful of fresh raspberries thrown in.

So I didn’t expand my cooking repertoire by much, but I did learn a lot about what I can and can’t do with the materials I have. Mission accomplished.

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