Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ta Da!

Dinner turned out great.  It was so nice being in the kitchen and preparing all these dishes.  I was especially pleased with the goat cheese tray.  That's Peggy helping out with the set up.

If you have never tried goat cheese I encourage you to do so.  It is especially good with pears, but the fig jam and bread was tasty also.

I like to scoop up some of the soft cheese with a piece of bread and press it into dried cranberries, raisins, and nuts.  And how wonderful to focus on just one cheese for a cheese board.

You can't go wrong, really.  Soft bread, flat bread, toasted bread.  It all works with the mix of soft and crunchy accompaniments.

Then we had the cucumbers stuffed with dip and garnished with orange peppers.  I simply grated zucchini into some cream cheese, tossed in some red onion and garlic powder.  Stirred, chilled and was very refreshing.  Any veggie would do well here.  Maybe some fresh green beans or celery.

And then there is the sangria.  White wine, peach vodka, sugar, peaches, apple, and strawberries.  So good.  I love it in the mason jars.

The roasted tomato salad was one of my favorite dishes, tweeked from a recipe in Reader's Digest.  Yellow and Red grape tomatoes were roasted in the oven with olive oil, sea salt, and crushed black pepper; cooled and tossed with torn mozzarella and julienne basil, then spooned into the Parmesan cups that were made the day before.  I am making this again for sure.  It would be perfect made smaller for a finger food appetizer at a party.

Yep, I took 2 pictures.  The lacy cheese is so pretty.  Not as fragile as you might think.

Crab cakes.  Not the usual fried ones; these are baked.  Click here for the link to the recipe I used from Nobel Pig.  I served the little cakes on a bed of relish made from corn, tomatoes, and other goodies.

Let me qualify this by saying I don't eat shrimp.  My husband does, so I slipped it into the menu.  These were marinaded in a tequila lime mix.  Click here for the recipe I used from  Two things I changed: I broiled the shrimp (not grilled) and I marinaded it for 3 hours (not 30 minutes).  Next time, it was suggested, I will serve it with a sauce of some kind and maybe a little crushed red pepper or Tabasco in the marinade.

Not being a shrimp eater, I added a chicken dish.  Small bites wrapped in bacon and rolled in brown sugar and spices.  Here is the recipe for these babies.  Yum.  Just look at those little flecks of flavor.

Now, I have still not mastered the art of the cupcake, but I did not let that deter me from making these Boston Creme Pie cakes.  I have to practice sometime, right?  I wish I had let the chocolate cool more before pouring on top.   I think it would have covered the seam where I cut out the center to fill with cream.  I got this recipe from The Feed.

These were so easy, and so good.  Soaking the cherries in Amaretto was great.  Next time brandy or a chocolate liquor.  The liquor that was drained off the cherries after soaking was an amazing cordial after dinner.  Such great flavor.  Poured over ice cream?  Yes.  Click here for the recipe.

In the end, the meal was a success, the company fantastic (we missed you Reily), and I can't wait to have another event.  Maybe a brunch next time.

One last tip on having a party:

  1. .Take your time and enjoy the clean-up.  Yes, I just said that.  If you followed my previous tip and cleaned your utensils and dishes as you went along during preparations, there really isn't much left to clean.  The plates for your guests are all the same so they fit in the dishwasher nicely, and your serving dishes  are usually on the flat side and fit as well.  Once they are scrapped, and stacked in the washer you can attack the stuff that needs to be done by hand: wood tools and cutting boards, odd shaped bowls, pitchers, and wine glasses.  Here is the part that makes it fun:  spend the time you are washing these last items thinking about the party; the conversations and company not the other chores you have ahead of you for the day.  Relax, don't rush.  "What other fruit would be good in the sangria next time?" as you clean the pitcher.  "I loved the way the crab cakes looked with the relish on these glass plates." And the cutting board?  "The goat cheese tray was a lot of fun.  Glad I bought that extra large board."  See how it works?  Before you know it you're done. Just as the planning, shopping, and preparation is a part of the party, so is the clean-up and you should enjoy it as well. 

Today I will do a bit of sewing.  I am still on track to complete my 42 blocks this summer, but I haven't sewn in the last couple days and have missed my sewing machine.  It's time to get reacquainted.

Do you enjoy entertaining?  What are your favorite types of parties?  Do you have a favorite that you attended?  Please share your thoughts.  I am always looking for new material.

Part 3:  Ta Da!