Dinner with Friends: Theatre and Food

Posted on: April 4th, 2014 by Roundabout

In Donald Margulies' play, Dinner with Friends, one of the couples, Gabe and Karen, are food writers who start the show by recounting their experience in Italy with a seasoned cook. They respond to not just the food, but to the specific details and emotions behind each step the woman teaching them took.

In the play food or drink is mentioned in almost every scene, and the thread of food through the production highlights the complexity of flavors in a romantic relationship. Some say that Gabe and Karen’s search for perfection in the taste and appearance of their food reflects their search for the ideal marriage.

You can find some of the delicious recipes mentioned in the play below.


Pumpkin Risotto and Grilled Lamb
From Epicurious
Serves 2

Photo from


For the Risotto:

1 onion finely chopped

600g pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cut into cubes

150g of Parmesan or Gruyere Cheese

300g (1cup) Arborio rice (risotto rice)

150ml (small glass) of Italian dry white wine

1 vegetable stock cube (in 500ml of hot water)

Fresh Rosemary and thyme

Rocket (Rucola)

2 table spoon butter

Olive oil

Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the lamb:

3-bone rack of lamb per person

Red wine

1 crushed clove of garlic

Fresh Rosemary and thyme

Olive oil

Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper




Pumpkin purée - Cook 300g of the pumpkin cubes with a little bit of water for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until they are soft enough to make a purée (don’t use too much water, you don’t want water just the pumpkin to make your purée). Put in a blender for 1 minute until you have the purée.

Roasted pumpkin – roast the rest of the pumpkin cubes with olive oil, salt, pepper and the rosemary and thyme for about 5 minutes. Keep this and the purée aside for a moment.

Now you are ready to cook the risotto, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and fry for about 2 minutes in a medium heat and then add the rice, sauté it for more 2 minutes or until they look translucent (not browned).

Pour in the wine and let it bubble up for some moment and then add the pumpkin purée and about two ladles of stock, add some salt and pepper and let it cook in a medium heat for 15 minutes (that will depend on the rice you are using).

Now add the roasted pumpkin the parmesan or gruyere cheese and some rocket (rucola) leaves and cook for more 5 minutes, adding more stock as needed until the rice is tender and creamy. Season to taste and serve.

Rack of Lamb:

Stand the racks of lamb in a china, scatter the garlic thyme and rosemary over the top, and add in some salt and pepper and a little bit of red wine. Leave to marinate for at least 4 hours (or overnight if you have the time).

Heat the olive oil in a frying oven proof pan and gently roast all the sides of the rack for 3 to 5 minutes, until you give some color to the meat.

Bring the pan to a pre-heated oven (200°C) for 8 to 10 minutes (depending on the size of the racks). Use your fingers to feel if the meat is rare or well done.

Bring the pan back to the stove and roast until you have the desired golden color outside. Carve into cutlets and serve.


Home-made Macaroni and Cheese (for the kids)
From Bev at
Serves 6

Photo by Caroline Cooks.


2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 1/2 cups milk

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

8 ounces dry elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions







Melt butter in medium saucepan.

Stir in flour, salt, mustard and pepper until smooth.

Remove from heat and gradually stir in milk until smooth.

Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until thickened (about 10 minutes).

Remove from heat.

Stir in 1 1/2 cups cheese until melted.

Combine cheese mixture with macaroni in greased 2 quart casserole.

Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.

Bake in 375 degree oven for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.


Gabe and Karen’s Polenta Almond Lemon Cake Recipe
Serves 10


2 cups unsalted butter, softened

2 cups caster sugar

2 cups ground almonds

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

6 eggs

1 cup polenta flour

1 cup lemon zest

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt





Pre-heat oven to 370F.

Beat together butter and sugar until pale and light.

Stir in ground almonds and vanilla.

Beat in eggs, one at a time.

Fold in lemon zest, lemon juice, polenta flour, baking powder, and salt.

Spoon batter into a butter and floured 12 inch round cake tin.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until top is deep golden brown.


Dinner with Friends plays at the Laura Pels Theatre through April 13. For more information and tickets, please visit our website.

Related Categories:
2013-2014 Season, Dinner With Friends

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