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September 21, 2007

Party Planning: October GTG

Some of my friends have asked me, "How do you cook for 48 (or more) people for dinner without getting stressed out? "

I PLAN! Some might say I obsess. I make lots of lists, spread out the tasks, start early, and do some recipes that can me made weeks ahead and frozen.

I thought I'd share some of my "tricks" that help me plan and execute a party, so I can relax and have a good time too! Last year, I had time for a nap before the party!

My first task was really to set the date, and create a "doable" menu. By doable, I mean are there dishes I can make ahead? What is last minute? Will I have fridge/freezer space? Enough for vegetarians to choose from? Some new dishes, and and "tried and true". What worked last year?

So here is what I came up with: *** I reserve the right to change something at the last minute if I can't find an ingredient, or can't fit one more thing in the fridges (my only fear).

Antipasti:

Panzarotti (filled phyllo dough triangles)
Baked Brie with fig jam
Prosciutto-salami platter
Cheese tray/pecorino with Italian honey
Mozzarella/tomato/basil skewers
Hot Crab dip
Antipasti of marinated/grilled veggies
Assorted flatbreads, crackers, crostini

David's Fabulous Caesar Salad

Artichoke-lemon lasagna
Gorgonzola-pear ravioli

Pancetta-wrapped pork roasts with fig-port reduction sauce (requested re-run)
Lamb meatballs with mint pesto
Grilled asparagus
Baked Cippolini with apricots, chestnuts, and cognac
Palma's Stuffed mushrooms

Dessert:

Black and White Cake
Butterscotch cake
Panna cotta with toppings
Chocolate dipped Caramels with sea salt

This menu gives me 18 dishes to make (in quantity), BUT, 9 of them are do ahead, and only 6 (mostly easy appetizes to put on trays) need to be done the DAY OF the party. I also have great cooks as houseguests, that have offered to keep me in coffee or wine on Friday.

So I've done a week-by-week countdown:

7 weeks before:
Decide menu
Start emptying freezer
Call and book 2 kitchen helpers for the day of the event (Robin and Nina were FABULOUS last year, and asked to come back anytime for the Slow Trav people!) THIS is money well-spent! They come early, and I have everything written out for them. "At 7:30 put meatballs in top oven at 350 for ___ minutes..." All platters, etc. are marked with what food goes on it. They clean up as they go. They stay til dessert is out, and they have run several loads of dishes. This year that will be REALLY important, as we'll have 48 chargers, dinner plates, pasta plates, and salad plates! The only time I even need to go into the kitchen is to boil the ravioli, and tell them when we want to serve dessert! I get to enjoy!

6 weeks before:
Rent tables, chairs, tablecloths
Decide on dishes for each table (we're using mine)
Decide on centerpieces for each table (from stuff I have)
FInd napkin rings, napkins, salt & pepper, water glasses for each table (from my stash)
Make and freeze lamb meatballs and mint pesto
Make panzarrotti and freeze
**Check on serving platters/bowls/utensils for each dish

** I have typed menu into computer. I copy it, and in colored ink, type what platter each dish will need. Then I copy it AGAIN and write WHEN I can make it, marking those to do far ahead and freeze in one color, Thursday before the party in another color, Friday another color, etc.

5 weeks before:
Make and freeze 3 pans of artichoke-lemon pesto lasagna
Make caramels
Order special treat wine
Clean my pantry (optional, but it needed it!)
Make MORE room in freezer!
Think about entertainment...DUH

4 weeks before: (WHOA...that's THIS week!)
Dip caramels in dark chocolate and sea salt
Buy paper plates/napkins for appetizers & dessert
iron napkins
make dozens of pear-gorgonzola ravioli and freeze

I'll keep this current the next four weeks!

September 30, 2007

More Party Planning

Three Weeks Before:
Plant fall flowers in my hanging baskets
Make grocery lists for week of party
Buy candles for pool area
Get large chafing dishes down from the garage (Brad)
Pick up "special wine treat"

It's an easy week. We did all this over the weekend except the grocery list. Brad even polished my copper pots. I'm going to keep working on my GTG scrapbook, and lay low this week! There is nothing else I can cook ahead...unless...hmmmmm maybe I'll find that recipe...

Oh how I love to cook for friends who like to eat!

Here are the flash frozen ravioli before I bagged them in zip-locks (each bag will be enough for a bowl for each of the six tables).
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October 7, 2007

Party Countdown: 2 Weeks

2 Weeks Before:

This weekend, it was Brad who did all the work. I happily sat at my computer, or kitchen table printing photos, cropping, cutting, and gluing scrapbook projects.

Brad cleaned ice chests, hung more Christmas lights on one of our olive trees where the gardner accidently cut the cord while trimming the tree, did some yardwork, cleaned the fountain and installed a new pump, and carried home 4 cases of large bottles of water.

I did laundry and straightened my craft closet. (not party-related)

We "found" (in the garage), 48 wine glasses, LOTS of champagne flutes for prosecco, and 48 water glasses.

I ordered the pork roasts from Bristol Farms.

My shopping lists are ready for next week for Costco, Trader Joe's, Bristol Farms, and a regular grocery store!

This week, my only party tasks are:
Touch base with kitchen helpers.
Re-confirm restaurant reservations and counts.
Iron the dinner napkins (that I didn't do 2 weeks ago).

Maybe I'll read my book club book for this month!

October 13, 2007

Finally! One Week Before!

As is my usual "problem", I was too well-planned, so this past week, I had little to do except wait...until closer to the party date. I am excited and hyper. I can't WAIT!

Today: (Saturday)
Clean house
Wash all glasses on bar (over 120)
Clean yard and all patio furniture/BBQ (Brad)

Sunday:
Brunch with Marcia and David
Costco

Monday:
Work 10 hrs. (supervision/therapy)
Take out all serving pieces

Tuesday:
Bristol Farms
Albertsons – rest of groceries

Wednesday:
Make Butterscotch Cake
Have windows washed
Clean house

Thursday:
Prep Hot Crab dip
Prep Cippolini Onion dish
Black and white cake
Panna Cotta
Get nails done
Gail, John, Sandi, Jerry arrive tonight!

Friday:
Bristol Farms with Jerry (pick up pork roasts, asparagus, cheese, antipasti)
Kathy, Terry arrive!
Marinate pork
Fig reduction sauce
Grill veggies (Jerry)
Prep Mushroom filling
Make and chill Ganache for Black and white cake
Frost Black and White cake
Set up tables/chairs (houseguest helpers)
Take out wine, prosecco and water glasses (Brad)
Acqua Pazza!

Saturday morning:
Set tables (houseguest helpers)
Stuff mushrooms
Cook pork roasts (to be reheated)
Mozarella-tomato skewers
Go buy ice (Brad)
Ice prosecco, water, white wine (Brad)
Put out pool candles (Brad)

Saturday afternoon:
Brie with fig jam
Prosciutto-salami platter
Cheese tray
Antipasti
Crackers, flatbreads

4:00: PARTY!

October 23, 2007

The Party's Over!

It appears that everyone had a good time!
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Next, let's go BEHIND the scenes...(coming soon)

Behind the Scenes:Friday

Thursday night, our amazing friends began to arrive for the GTG weekend. Gail, John and Sandi landed in Palm Springs shortly after 9, and arrived just as I had made the last of the 48 panna cottas. We enjoyed some wine on the patio while we waited for Brad and Jerry to get home from the Ontario airport. It was a 2:30 a.m. bedtime.

I crawled out at 6:30, after 4 hours of sleep, to find Jerry up and blogging. After enough coffee, a print out of today's list, and a light breakfast for my guests, Jerry and I took off for Bristal Farms. We bought cheeses for the cheese tray, picked up the ordered pork roasts, chose veggies for Jerry to grill, chocolate "pencils" to decorate the cheesecake, and a few flatbreads and breadsticks. We sampled a few cheeses for a snack, and ran into Sandi on our way out. Jerry managed to pick up a few goodies to take home.

I had a great team! The tables, chairs and linens arrived from the rental company, and in seconds, the tables were set up. I did various prep jobs, marinated the roasts, and took frequent coffee/smoke breaks. Sandi picked up Kathy and Terry from the airport, dropped their stuff off at their condo, and they arrived with our phone ordered list of sandwiches from the sub shop. Jerry helped me brilliantly manage refridgerator space at home, and my neighbor, Diana, took home whatever didn't quite fit in one of mine.

John cools off:
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I put the ladies to work stuffing mushrooms, and the guys took naps.
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THEN we were able to have a Slowchick rehearsal! We had time for a shower before leaving for dinner at Acqua Pazza.

October 25, 2007

My Dream Team

How can I thank the amazing group of friends/house guests and hard workers who helped me behind the scenes? I will sing their praises in a blog post!

It goes without saying that my wonderful husband helped for weeks before the party! He was "pasta man", "yard guy", schlepper of bags, wine buyer, and ice guy. He also loves the Slow Travel group, and enjoyed hosting and MCing the Slowchicks.
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Jerry was my right hand in the kitchen! I can't wait until our next opportunity to cook together. Since we were on my turf, he whipped through my lists, was self-directed, took orders well, cleaned up after himself (and others), never complained, and helped me manage refridgerator space in the house and garage! He was the first one up with me with coffee in the dark early morning hours, and the last one to bed at night. Here he is grilling veggies around 6:30 a.m. on Saturday!
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Gail and John were also fabulous houseguests. The did WHATEVER needed doing, from setting up tables and chairs, carrying chargers, dishes, plates and glasses wherever I pointed, filling salt and pepper, opening packages of dessert plates, cocktail napkins and nametags, and helping Brad with heavy loads of 160 lbs of ice!
Gail walked around with a bottle of windex, spitshining everything in sight, and did a final room check of all bathrooms and bedrooms! They were both fun and amazingly helpful. They work and play well with others!
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"The girls" (Sandi, Kathy and Terry) brought us lunch on Friday, and also took orders well. I was in the role of drill sargent! They picked basil, cut rosemary sprigs for garnishing, cut tomatoes, stuffed four trays of mushrooms, and made mozarella/tomato/basil skewers.
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Saturday, the kitchen crowd was joined by David making Caesar salad, and Marcia joining in wherever she was needed, from salami platter to dishwashing!
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My neighbor, Diana was a lifesaver with fridge space and moral support!

Thanks to my PARTY DREAM TEAM!

March 8, 2008

Planning the Savannah Gathering: Behind the Scenes

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I have been on the planning committee for the Slow Travel April "Great Gathering in Savannah '08" for over a year. Our committee has met weekly to plan this event since December of 2006! It seemed so far away at first. (We took a couple weeks off now and then for holidays and vacations.) It has been both a wonderful and interesting experience. I do love planning parties, but this event was different in a number of ways:

1. We had no idea early on how many people would attend.
2. We were planning with people we didn't know well (or had never met) who lived all over the U.S. and Canada. We were in different time zones, sometimes making our meeting times a challenge for some.
3. We all have jobs, families and/or spouses, and other commitments in our busy lives.
4. Working with a committee of 6 different personalities,( though we got along very well, and became friends through this process) sometimes seemed to take longer than doing something alone, where you make all the decisions without discussion (WHO has control issues?). I have been fortunate to have met ALL of the committee members!
5. BUDGET! We wanted to keep it both wonderful, and affordable. NOT my strong suite!

We divided up the many tasks and responsibilities according to our strengths:

SHEENA: Our leader and organizer! Sheena did a great job of keeping us on track and accountable for our tasks, leading each online meeting, and keeping the enormous job of registration accurate with who was coming, who had paid a deposit, and when the final payment had been received. She has made all deposits, and reimbursed expenses. Sheena is our "spread sheet queen of Excel"! She also had our "Welcome Bags" made.

KATHY: Our organized, PR chairman responsible for over a year of weekly countdown posts, newsletters, emails, scouting trip, printing a program, and posting announcements on the Slow Talk message board. Kathy has accepted the many boxes of door prizes that generous members have mailed for her to drive to Savannah!

LESLIE: Our resident travel agent who booked blocks of hotel rooms in Savannah, scouted options for rental houses, and has been working with the nice people at Old Fort Jackson on Saturday night's event and menu.

TERRY: Terry has arranged transportation,( the trolleys), a map of Savannah, and other optional events during the weekend. She has researched emergency info, places of worship, and contacted all registrants to coordinate accommodations and trolley pick-up and drop-off. She takes on all the jobs nobody volunteers for, and will cheerily help any of us when needed.

JAN: Jan has worked with the menus (food, bar, pricing, contracts, and endless details) for both Friday's event at the Gingerbread House, and Sunday's Brunch at Vic's on the River. She is bringing a car load of "stuff" we will need during the weekend, and picking up more the day before the festivities begin in Savannah.Jan is great at details and planning. She and I are shopping for Thursday's "Happy Hour" at our house.

We have had others step up to the plate and help. Brenda has organized a "Ghost Tour", and Marcia is organizing those going to lunch at Paula Deen's "Lady and Sons" Restaurant.

MY PART: I was asked to participate because of my "reputation" for being a "creative party planner with good ideas". My jobs were the "fun stuff": door prizes, entertainment, centerpieces, name tags and other creative details.

Door prizes have been donated generously by members, advertisers, and Slow Travel affiliates. I have kept in touch with all the donors, and coordinated getting these items. What an AMAZING assortment of wonderful gifts we have! This was fun!

Name tags: Brad printed them for us on the computer. I supervised.

Centerpieces: I had a budget of $50. HAHAHA! Do not fear. I only went a teeny bit over budget, and I am ALMOST done, after over 70 hours of "creativity" spread across my kitchen. Brad just smiles and says, "The s___ you do!" (Then he helped.) If I had earned minimum wage for this week's work on the centerpieces, I would have earned about $560 (not counting overtime). I believe the term "obsessive-compulsive" could be used here. The good news is they are NON-breakable, PACKABLE, and REUSABLE. I think they are adorable!

Entertainment: Now this is where I had to get creative. Do not worry... the Slowchicks are NOT appearing in Savannah. I had grander ideas, but a budget of zero. With a mere 240 hours of time and creativity, this was more fun than I can even describe! Brad also put in many hours of "tech support" and other expertise on this project!
We are SO READY!!! You will just have to wait!

Memories of a wonderful weekend with old and new friends? PRICELESS!


August 4, 2008

Anatomy of a Dinner Party

I am hosting an "over-the-top" dinner party in 9 days. Of course the planning has begun!

Step 1:
Plan menu and get organized! "Get organized" means a timeline, knowing what plates, glasses and serving pieces will be used for each course, and deciding on linens and flowers. Make shopping lists and start cooking!

Upon arrival:
Prosecco
taralli
olives
mini caprese on toothpicks (tiny mozzarella balls, grape tomatoes, basil)

Appetizer Course (Antipasti): 3 on a rectangular white plate
fig stuffed with gorgonzola and candied pecan, drizzled with honey
small square of sformato (parmesan flan) in a pool of pesto with shaved grana padano
small slice of melon with prosciutto

Salad:
fennel, orange, red onion, spinach salad with citrus vinegarette

Primi Piatti:
individual ramekins of crab-gruyere lasagna

Sorbetto: (Palate Cleanser)
Thyme-honey sorbetto served in scooped out frozen lemons

Secondi Piatti:
Pork roast stuffed with gorgonzola and fresh figs
Creamy polenta
Honey-glazed carrots

Dolci:
4-layer torta with caramel marscapone buttercream and almond toffee crunch
Salt-caramel gelato

I used a combination of "tried and true" recipes (taralli, figs, sformato, crab lasagna, salad, polenta and carrots) and new ones (sorbetto, stuffing the pork roast, the cake, and the gelato).

Step 2:
I decided to make a sample of the frozen lemons with sorbetto for two reasons. Brad did a great job of scooping out 4 lemons on Friday, and I want to know how long they can sit in the freezer, so I can make more before leaving town next Friday if they will last four days. I also wanted to taste the sorbetto. It is REALLY delicious and refreshing!

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Thyme Sorbetto (from Italian Cooking and Living, Aug. 2007)

4 large lemons
2/3 c. powdered sugar
1 large bunch of thyme (plus extra for garnishing)
3 T. honey

Cut ends off lemons, and scoop out pulp leaving 4 shells. Put lemon shells into the freezer. Juice the remaining pulp and set aside. In a saucepan, combine 2 1/2 cups of water, sugar and thyme. Boil for 3 minutes, then remove and discard thyme. Remove syrup from heat, and stir in the juice from the lemons and the honey. Chill until mixture is cool. Pour into ice cream machine and follow manufacturer's directions.
When sorbet is done, fill shells and return them to the freezer. (There will be a little leftover. This recipe would fill a total 6 lemons.) Remove lemons 10 minutes before serving and garnish with thyme sprig.

Step 3:
Since we will be out of town next weekend, I will only have Sunday evening to begin my prep. I began this past Saturday by buying the ingredients for the crab lasagna, ordering the pork roast from my butcher, and fresh figs from my produce guy. Sunday, we made fresh pasta and assembled and froze the lasagnas.

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Step 4:
Start shopping! When we return from San Diego on Sunday afternoon, I will drop Brad off at the airport for a business trip. That means I will be without my sous chef, helper and schleppopotomus for the dinner! He already did all the tasks I asked for: cleaning patio furniture, and helping me carry home all the wine, water, etc.. One of my friends who will be attending the dinner has volunteered to help with serving, clearing, and wine pouring on the night of the event. This is a business dinner, and the date couldn't be changed to accomodate Brad's scheduled trip.

Stay tuned for the rest of the preparations!

August 12, 2008

Dinner Party TONIGHT!: Part 2

We arrived home Sunday afternoon from a fun and busy San Diego weekend, and after dropping Brad off at Palm Springs airport, I went straight back to party planning mode and picked up my butterflied pork roast, fennel, cheese, olives and figs from Bristol Farms. OK, then I took a 45 minute power nap, and began cooking again.

Sunday night:

Babbo breadsticks
another batch of thyme-honey-lemon sorbetto
The taralli are done, 'cause I made them last week!

Monday: I did the bulk of the work yesterday so I won't be tired for the actual dinner!

CLEAN HOUSE!!!
Trader Joe's shopping
Albertson's shopping
Bake cake layers
Make sformato/defrost pesto
Defrost lasagnas in fridge
Take out all serving pieces/dishes/glasses/silverware/napkins
Polish silver ice cream spoons and espresso spoons for sorbetto
cut melon
make caramel sauce
make caramel buttercream-marscapone frosting
fig reduction sauce
decorate tables
stuff frozen lemon shells with sorbetto
assemble cake

Tuesday:

stuff roast
stuff figs
make polents
carrots
mini-caprese
wrap melon with prosciutto
make salad dressing
prep salad
set tables
cook roast
put out antipasti/taralli/olives
arrange flowers
water/wine

Wish you were coming! Buon Appetito! I promise to take photos of everything!


October 8, 2008

Party Soon

Just a little over two weeks, and it is time for the 3rd Annual Slow Travel Desert GTG!

I am in high gear PARTY MODE!

I have lists for my lists.

What this actually means is, every day there is a cleaning project, a cooking project (or two), and I'm also working on trying to scrapbook our most recent trip. Lots of phone calls, details, emails, errands, and more lists.

I am making progress. My freezer is bursting with do-ahead appetizers. My house is getting there. The menu is great. No hints...there will be plenty to eat!

This great group begins to gather two weeks from tomorrow, when Sandi is first to arrive from Alabama. On Friday, Jerry and Paul will be here, and also flying in for the event are Kathy, Terry and Colleen! I am very excited!

Friday evening we will have dinner out, Saturday is the party, and Sunday is the now traditional breakfast at the diner! I will be a busy girl between now and then. It looks like 47 guests and a perfect weekend!

October 13, 2008

An Old Standby

Last week I remembered a VERY old do-ahead appetizer recipe I haven't made in at least 10 years. i know I haven't made them since I moved to the desert 9 years ago, but I used to always have some in my freezer. Maybe I got tired of them? They are fun to make, and delicious. Kind of like if a marshmallow were made out of cheese...
This was one of those recipes you never wrote down, because it was so simple to remember. I always called them "Cheese Puffs"

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Cube a large loaf of french or sour dough bread into 1/2 inch cubes. I use my electric knife to do this quickly and make perfect little cubes.
In a double boiler, melt 8 oz. cream cheese, 1 cup of butter, and 2 cups grated sharp cheddar. Beat 4 egg whites until stiff, and fold into warm cheese mixture.
Coat each bread cube, (I just use a fork), and place them on a parchment or waxed paper lined baking sheet. Leave them in the freezer overnight, then store them, unbaked in ziplock bags. When ready to use, bake them at 400 for 15-18 minutes. YUM!
One batch makes 120 cheese puffs. Of course I made two batches yesterday. They are quite addictive.

October 14, 2008

Sausage Bundles

Here is another do-ahead appetizer that is filling my freezer.

"Sausage Bundles"
Saute mushrooms (I used baby bellas) in a little olive oil with salt, pepper, and a few red pepper flakes. Drain.

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Brown Italian sausage (I used half regular, and half hot), and drain. Mix with the mushrooms.

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Roll out thawed puff pastry dough (two sheets), and cut one of the sheets into thirty 3" squares.

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Place a teaspoon on sausage mushroom filling on each square. Top with a little herbed goat cheese.

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Fold corners to the center diagonally (like an envelope). From second sheet of pastry, cut thirty 1 1/2 " squares. Brush small squares with a mixture of two egg yolds and 2 T. cream. Place brushed side down on each sausage square. Press to seal. Repeat with any remaining dough.

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Flash freeze appetizers for an hour or (overnight), and freeze until ready to bake. Bake frozen at 400 for 15-20 minutes until golden.

I don't know what they look like baked yet, but I made five sheets of pastry. With the sixth sheet of dough, and my leftover filling, I made us two calzones for dinner. THEY were just delicious!

October 15, 2008

10 Tips for a Great Party

1. Be organized. Be enthusiastic. Don’t get overwhelmed.

2. Plan ahead, and do ahead as much as possible, leaving as little as you can to do last minute on the day of the event.

3. Have good food! I tend to obsess over this part. I also like to do everything myself. Someday I will have a pot-luck and give up some of my control issues! LOL

4. Have good helpers and delegate. Ask Brad how good I am at this one! He just says, "What's on my list for today?" I will also have my sous chefs, Jerry, Paul and Sandi here the day before the party. They have proven to be great kitchen helpers! At worst, they shall entertain me during my frequent pre-party breaks! I have also hired two professional kitchen helpers from a caterer for the actual event to keep me out of the kitchen and having fun with my guests!

5. Have items you need ready and available. I have tons of serving ware, platters, dishes and party supplies. But with more than 24 food items, I still make a list of what every dish will be served on, and what serving pieces and silverware I will need. It will all be out, clean, and labeled with a sticky note a couple days before the party.

6. Take a pre-party day to relax and do nothing. I also try to plan for some downtime, or even a nap on the day of the party.

7. Timing list: Probably my most important list which I make for myself for small dinner parties, and for my kitchen helpers for a big event is a detailed list of when to put each item in the oven, for how long, and at what temperature, so there is a blow-by-blow order on paper of what needs to be done when.

8. This one is easy: Invite great guests!

9. Keep it simple. I’ll never follow this one!

10. Have a great time at your party. Everyone else will too!

October 21, 2008

Ham, Gruyere & Honey Mustard Palmiers

Here's another do-ahead appetizer. The recipe didn't SAY I could do them ahead, but we shall see.

Ham, Gruyere & Honey-Mustard Palmiers (adapted from a recipe from "The Best of Fine Cooking: APPETIZERS" magazine)

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
4-5 T. honey-dijon mustard (or mix in some honey to regular dijon)
3 c. grated gruyere
1/2 c. grated parmesan
32 sliced VERY thinly slices of deli ham (shaved honey ham)

Heat over in 450. On a lightly floured surface, roll out a sheet of puff pastry to a large rectangle. Brush on a thin layer of honey mustard.

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Top with 1 1/2 c. (half) of gruyere, and 1/4 c. parmesan.

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Lay out 16 slices of ham on top (4 rows of 4 slices).

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Take a sheet of parchment or waxed paper, and press with rolling pin to compress layers. Remove paper and cut once horizontally across center. Roll ends toward center of each piece.

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Repeat process with second sheet of dough and the rest of ingredients.
Cut each "log" into 20 slices and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes until golden. Let cool slightly before serving. Makes 80 palmiers.

I wrapped my "logs" in plastic wrap and froze them. I will thaw and slice on the day of the party. I'll let you know what happens. I also think you could make them the day before you need them, and keep logs in the fridge overnight.

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October 23, 2008

Something is Going On...

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"Something is up! I don't know what, but we all got haircuts and now Mom is making me wear this stupid bandana. I don't think they're leaving because I don't see any luggage. I HATE when they take out luggage! Sometimes there is other people's luggage when friends visit us. That kind is good."

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"Ohoh...I just got in trouble, but not BIG trouble, because she was laughing. Mom put the basket on the floor, and wiped off the table with a bunch of platters and dishes. How was I supposed to know it wasn't a new doggie bed? It was kind of scratchy anyway. Sheesh! She's been in the kitchen a lot, but no tasters today! I hope she remembers my treat!"

October 24, 2008

Good Help

It's hard to get good help these days! I began party prep this morning at 6 AM. Brad began his list at 6:30 while Sandi and I caffinated. After a quick breakfast, the tasks were started. Six menu items were completed. Brad got through his list. We had lunch around 12:30. Jerry and Paul arrived at 1:00. Here are my hardworking guests at 2PM.

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I'm thinking...no wine tomorrow until 3:00!

October 29, 2008

Party Menu

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As promised, here is the party menu for the 2008 Desert GTG:

The items with a * are do ahead and freeze, and the items with 2**, the caterer did
(I had to order 3 things from her to get my kitchen helpers!)

** Baby lamb chops
** baked red potato bar with toppings
** Fresh fruit display in tiers

Chicken (Brad grilled 20 chicken breasts, and I served it cold and sliced with 2 sauces)
Tonnato sauce
Thai Peanut sauce

Bourbon shrimp wrapped in bacon on skewers
Jerry's grilled veggies and asparagus
hunk of parmagiano with honey (from Bologna)
other assorted cheeses
prosciutto-salami platter
hot crab dip
baked brie with fig jam
hot artichoke dip
seared lime sea scallops with adobe chile sauce
corn salad
Baja bites
caprese skewers
shrimp dip (cold)
fennel, orange, spinach, red onion salad

*ham, gruyere, honey mustard palmiers
*pear-gorgonzola in pastry boats
*sausage, mushroom goat cheese in puff pastry
*cheese puffs
*phyllo,blue cheese, pecan, honey pastries
*eggplant caponata

Dessert:
Caramel Marscapone cake
Salted butter caramel ice cream
Italian amaretti and candy

February 17, 2010

Planning the San Diego Gathering

I am lucky to be on the planning committee for another Slow Travel Gathering in San Diego in March. Along with Shannon, Marcia, David, Jane, Ken and Brad, we have planned a wonderful three day event on March 12-14. This weekend, we all met to finalize all of the details and plans, and we had so much fun doing it. We began at Jane and Ken's home where our first "official event" will take place for the whole group of 72 on Friday night. I say "official", as many are arriving Thursday night and will be able to gather for dinner at The Vine.

Friday night will kick off "A Taste of San Diego", and is very exciting for me, as I will be preparing much of the food (with help from Shannon and my sous chef, Brad), and the theme is ITALIAN! We have a great menu of hearty appetizers lined up!

From Jane's, we all drove to meet the fabulous guys at Super Cocina, who will be catering Saturday night's dinner in Ocean Beach. I'm not a huge fan of Mexican food, but this stuff was ALL delicious! It was "lick the plate" good! We have a few surprises in store too.

Then we checked into the Island Palms resort on Shelter Island.

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It was a warm and sunny afternoon for a glass of wine, planning our Sunday brunch, AND a view!

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We enjoyed dinner together at the Vine, after a very productive day!

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Bright and early the next morning, Brad and I drank lots of coffee, and took a nice walk along the water, across the street from the hotel.

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By 10:30, Shannon, Marcia and David and Brad and I were enjoying a Valentine's Day coffee in Little Italy.

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Before heading off to visit friends, we all managed to shop at the Italian market, Mona Lisa Italian Foods, and well as a wonderful Mexican store, Northgate Market, down the freeway!

It was a whirlwind day and a half, but we are ready to go for a fabulous weekend of parties!

March 9, 2010

TWO MORE DAYS! Party Prep...

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I have two days to finish the last of the "do ahead" things I can make for the Great Slow Travel San Diego Gathering! I actually am rather "stuck" for what to write about today, as aside from work, EVERYTHING I've been doing the last couple weeks is in preparation for this weekend. There has been lots of shopping, cooking, baking, centerpieces, other surprises... I am SO excited, and I can't show you ANY of it yet!

Today, between clients, I am making a "do-ahead" appetizer, and chopping, grating, defrosting everything for tomorrow, when I can make 4 more.

I have already made 5 recipes, and my freezer is full! Well, there are more than just a handful of us. With 70 or so people, I have made/baked 18 DOZEN of things.

Thursday morning, after we load the car with....OMG, LOTS of things, we are off to Jane's house in San Diego. Right now, everything is bubble-wrapped and stacked on my guest room bed, except food. Everything in the garage fridge and freezer is ready to go into the giant ice chest in the back seat. We will cook from 9:30 to 4, and then be back early on Friday for all the last minute preparations.

Poor Jane has never seen me on the day of a party. I usually start about 6 AM, and my instructions are barked out to helpers with the precision of a military mission. Every hour, I cross things off and take a 5 minute break outside. I have lists for my lists, stickie notes on 20 platters, and I can multi task with the best of them. I obsess over details. I love to garnish. I have a vision of that final table when guests begin to arrive. I am very excited (and stay well-caffinated)!

Now, if I only had a catering van...

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Palmabella's Passions in the Party Planning category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Organization is the previous category.

Pasta of the Week is the next category.

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