I came home from Portland early on Sunday specifically to host the potluck, and I'm glad I did: Javier brought octopus! Boiled and then coated in olive oil, coarse salt, and hot paprika, it was delicious.
The process I described is really all there is to making the octopus, but the real skill lies in being able to tell when it's done. I can't help you there: Javier manned the stove for that one. I can tell you how to make the dish(es) I contributed: baked eggs and garlic biscuits.
I had garlic biscuits at a restaurant called the Screen Door in Portland, and they were very good. Because I was sharing with others, I got only the bottoms of the biscuits. I thought: a whole one must be even better! I had been planning to make chive biscuits for my potluck, but the chives had gone bad over the weekend and I was craving garlic. I just swapped minced garlic for the chives and off I went.
The baked eggs looked delicious, and when I made them, they were quite good (and they were all eaten) but I thought they were a bit bland. As it turns out, I'd forgotten the pepper and the parmesan. Lesson: don't forget the flavorings!
Both recipes from Smitten Kitchen
Baked Eggs with Spinach and Mushrooms
Gourmet, June 2004
10 oz baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced (2 cups)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan (I forgot this, and I'm kicking myself. Cheese makes everything better.)
Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 450°F.
Bring 1/2 inch water to a boil in a 10- to 12-inch ovenproof heavy skillet or pot (not cast-iron), then add half of spinach and cook, turning with tongs, until wilted, about 30 seconds. Add remaining spinach and wilt in same manner, then cook, covered, over moderately high heat until spinach is tender, about 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and cool under cold running water. Gently squeeze handfuls of spinach to remove as much liquid as possible, then coarsely chop.
Wipe skillet dry, then cook onion and garlic in butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and increase heat to moderate, then cook, stirring, until mushrooms are softened and have exuded liquid, about 3 minutes. Stir in cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and chopped spinach and bring to a simmer. Remove skillet from heat and make 4 large indentations in spinach mixture. Break an egg into each indentation and bake, uncovered, until egg whites are set but yolks are still runny, 7 to 10 minutes. Lightly season eggs with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with cheese.
Buttermilk Garlic Biscuits (these originally called for chives)
Adapted from Dot’s Diner, Boulder, CO (adapted again from Smitten Kitchen)
Makes 12 servings.
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar (originally recipe calls for 2 tablespoons)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425°F. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Using fingertips, rub 3/4 cup chilled butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in chives. Add buttermilk and stir until evenly moistened. Using 1/4 cup dough for each biscuit, drop biscuits onto baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart.* Bake until biscuits are golden brown on top, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm.
It says "12 servings" but I ended up with 17 biscuits and some extra powder in the mixing bowl... I think the recipe needs perhaps a bit more buttermilk (to make the powder into dough). You can either make larger biscuits (to end up with 12) or hope for 18-20 if you stick with 1/4 cup.