Monday, May 3, 2010

Party Time and Spinach Goat Cheese Dip

I've been away from this blog because I've been busy, first with a wretched weekend, and then a week that involved saying farewell to my boss of four years as she moves on to become a caterer chef (so excited for her!), and prepping like mad for my own barbeque soiree in our backyard this past Saturday.

As usual, I went a little overboard with self-catering and took on more than was probably reasonable. But honestly it works out because as stressed as I seem, I love spending the day in the kitchen and I prefer to serve food that I source myself from the farmers market and cooked from scratch with care. Kudos to my sister, who stepped in as sous-chef to help me finish the prepping in time.

It's been nearly a year since my last big party, so I'm really glad it was a success. The dogs were surprisingly well-behaved. The weather was beautiful. Everyone enjoyed the candle-lit patio, and it's made me think twice about the plan to move this summer. It was great to meet new people and reconnect with old friends. Guests were nice enough to bring lovely things to add to the spread, like local cheese plates, chili and cornbread, a gorgeous lilac centerpiece, and homemade salsa. Some genius came bearing ice cream sandwiches. I'm happy to have a few of those leftover in the freezer ;-)

I especially enjoyed planning the menu and getting excited to try new things in the kitchen (see my last post). My final menu included:
* Carrot, radish, and pepper crudite with white bean herb dip and spinach goat cheese dip
* Grass-fed burgers and hot dogs with slices of no-knead bread for buns
* Shrimp skewers, marinated in homemade barbeque sauce and grilled
* Vegan bean and wheatberry salad and potato salad with mustard vinaigrette
* Mini rhubarb apple galettes and gluten-free walnut beet brownies
* Homemade ginger ale for mixing cocktails

The white bean dip with fresh herbs and roasted garlic is a favorite that I make for all my parties. I thought up the spinach goat cheese dip for my sister, who can only tolerate goat and sheep cheeses. It was remarkably easy - ahead of time, I sauteed a bunch of spinach in olive oil until wilted. The day of the party, we mixed a tub of Lynnhaven goat cheese feta (or you could use chevre) with half the spinach in a food processor and blended it with olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. The result was a vibrant green dip that looks like pesto, but packs the unexpected rich and creamy taste of goat cheese. We used it for dipping, but it would also be an excellent spread for crostini or sandwiches. I think it would also be fun to mash the spinach and cheese by hand with a fork for a coarser blend.

I'll be posting the rest of my party recipes over the next several days, so stay tuned!


  1. Hold up - homemade ginger ale?! Please tell me that's one of the recipes you're posting. Whiskey and ginger ale is one of my favorite summer drinks to sip. Yum.

  2. Gosh, sounds AWESOME. I need to throw a party (or few) at home this summer, and I clearly need to steal some of your recipes to help me do it.

    Also? How super-cute are you? :)

  3. Rachel - yes! and the ginger ale is easier than you would think - a ginger simple syrup mixed with seltzer. i think i'll be posting that one next week.

  4. oh that sounds like a YUMMY menu!!! And it looks like you had a great party- I love spring-summer parties, what a perfect way to celebrate Beltane :) (or May Day!)

  5. I always leave your blog hungry. Those shrimp are calling my name. Your piles of gorgeous groceries down there are making me very jealous. And your brownies up top are making me drool. Stop it, girl. You're killing me.

  6. Oh, I will most definitely try that spinach dip if I come across any goat cheese!

  7. omg, everything at your party looks ridiculously fantastically amazing. i am so trying some of the recipes! i can't wait.

  8. amazing! wish I had been there to dine on all these delicacies.

  9. WHY HOW WHY did I miss this?!?!

  10. Amy - thanks for stopping by my blog!

    Jay - I don't know! You must come next time!