Mom wanted the meal to be simple since I had put so much effort into the graduation day festivities. I decided to stop by Fresh Market and pick up some of their pinwheels. The one in the center is Italian with some cheese, spinach and ham. The other two have portabellas and cheese rolled into them. They take about 30 minutes in a 375 degree oven, but cut into them to be sure as it is very easy to undercook them.
As the starchy (i.e. carbohydrate-filled) side dish, I made some roasted garlic mashed potatoes. Earlier in the day, I put two heads of garlic (tops cut off, bottoms wrapped in foil and tops lightly covered with olive oil) into a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes until they were golden brown. After boiling the potatoes until they were tender and draining them, I returned them to the pan and got out the good old hand masher. The masher is quite easy to use and recommended if you want more rustic potatoes with some lumps or just very chunky. After a light mashing, I squeezed out what garlic I could onto the potatoes and added a little salt, pepper, spray butter, and warm milk. I kept adding a little bit of milk at a time until the potatoes were the consistency I wanted.
To jazz up the potatoes, though they were quite good already, I served optional sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, scallions, and mild goat cheese. I had mine with goat cheese and thought it made a good combination.
As a "healthier" side, I served broccoli rabe. This leafy green has small broccoli florets attached and is a nice vegetable to serve. First, you should blanch the broccoli rabe for about 2 minutes. This means to place it in boiling water for 2 minutes, then shock it in some ice water to stop the cooking process. You can do this with other vegetables that you do not want to steam until they are too soft and disgusting to eat. The main key to flavoring the broccoli rabe for this meal was pancetta. Pancetta is pretty much Italian bacon, except it is salt-cured instead of smoked. You can have it cut into nice, thick slices. I cut one slice into small cubes and cooked them until they were golden on the outside. I removed the meat from the pan and used their grease to start cooking the broccoli rabe. Once it was heated through, I added the pancetta back to the pan to finish it off very briefly. This dish is pretty much the same idea behind some Southern dishes such as collard greens cooked with bacon or some other pork fat.
With dinner, we served my new champagne discovery: Petalo, Il Vino dell'Amore (Moscato Spumante). This is the champagne I had for New Year's Eve and my family has now adopted it as one of their favorites. It is smooth and sweet, but still not expensive. It makes wonderful mimosas. I would recommend it to anyone who says they do not like champagne because it is not as dry as the other stuff that is out there.
For dessert, the main feature was a flourless chocolate cake that I served at graduation. It is made with many eggs, some sugar and a little Kahlua. My guess is the Kahlua adds the coffee taste to accent the chocolate instead of actually adding coffee. On the side are some flourless dark chocolate cookies that also turned out to be one of my best chocolate cookies to date. You can find them in June issue of Bon Appetit magazine.
Last, but not least (and not food), are the flowers I arranged for my mom this year. Usually, I pick out some tulips, but I felt this year was time for a change. I went to (you guessed it) Fresh Market and found some lovely lilies (two types), some purple bell-looking flowers and pink peonies. They also had some nice vases there in which I could place the flowers. Though I had no idea what I was doing, this arrangement turned out pretty good. You never know what you can do until you give something a shot.