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!