The anniversary couple.

Where the Party’s At

If you’re checking back to see if I’ve heard from the TV people, I’m sorry to disappoint. I still haven’t heard from them. To borrow a phrase from the Great Space Coaster, “No gnus is good gnus.”

I haven’t been cooking all that much and it’s has been a welcome break. Although I did cook all the food for a surprise party my sisters and I threw in honor of my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary and 60th birthdays. There were 70 people and we had a budget of only $400, so I was cooking for days. (I’ve typed out the menu below, recipes follow or are linked.) I’ve also spent some time in the kitchen with mom, and tomorrow she’s asked me to make my yummy grits recipe.

One thing is certain, I’ve missed blogging. My plan is to start a new blog, “How to Thrive on $6 a Day.” So check back or subscribe to find out more… (Some recent research shows that you don’t have to learn about this from me. Lindsey’s already done it: http://sixdollarsaday.com/)
Mom & Dad’s 40th Wedding Anniversary and 60th Birthdays Party Menu
– Champagne toast
– White Sangria

Appetizers
– Homemade skewered pickles: beets; carrots; squash; sweet pickles; beans (I didn’t add garlic and I added a bit of sugar to my beans); and banana peppers (in just vinegar)
– Corn cake on crackers with cumin aioli (I used ground cumin instead of cumin seeds.)
– Mini-tostadas with roasted white bean pate, caramelized onions, avocado and watermelon pico de gallo
– Feta & cream cheese with basil, and wrapped in grilled zucchini strips with a mint leaf
– Hummus served with homemade pita chips
– Thai peanut sauce served with raw veggies (I didn’t start with peanuts as the recipe stipulates, but used peanut butter like most Westerners!)

Dinner
– Pesto Linguine
– German potato salad
– Fetasmic Couscous salad
– Homemade rolls served with pulled pork and chicken salad

Dessert
– Brownies with ice cream, Spanish peanuts and a choice of regular chocolate sauce or cayenne-choclate sauce

Recipes
As usual, it’s fairly difficult for me to write a recipe without duplicating my work. So here’s a rough guide to the items above that are missing links!

For the white sangria
We steeped apples and peaches and mangos overnight in a mixture of 1/2 peach schnapps and 1/2 white grape juice. The next day we added Chablis and blueberries. 

For the Vietnamese pickled carrots, the ratio is:
1 c. vinegar
1/2 c. lime juice
1/2 c. water
Dash of salt

For the sweet pickles, I added sugar to a mixture of white and cider vinegar until I thought it sufficiently sweet. Then I added some salt, celery salt and mustard seed. 

Roasted garlic white bean pate
I roasted three whole heads of garlic and pureed them in a food processor with olive oil, salt and pepper, and enough white beans to fill the bowl of the food processor. If I’d had it, I would’ve used a lot of white pepper. I added olive oil until it became smooth. Add acid of some sort if it needs it.

Watermelon pico-de-gallo
Watermelon, finely chopped
Red or white onion, finely chopped
Jalapeno, finely chopped
Honey
Salt
White pepper (I didn’t have this in the one I made the other night, but I usually add it when I make this, because it adds a nice earthy undertone without changing the look)
Mint, finely chopped (I usually add this, too, but didn’t have it when I made the salsa – I meant to add it when I got to Mom’s house but forgot; it really ties it all together)
Lime juice, to taste

Zucchini rolls
It’s really just the ingredients mentioned above. Add feta to a bowl of cream cheese until you start to taste it. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Add paprika for color, and/or a tad of cayenne. Chiffonade basil and add. Meanwhile, slice zucchini into long strips. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook in an iron skillet in a light layer of olive oil until a light char appears. Remove, pat dry with a paper towel, and let cool. When cool, take a mint leaf, place it on a zucchini strip, put a spoonful of the cheese mixture on top and roll. Pin closed with a toothpick.
Ritz-Carlton Brownies
In a large bowl over a pot of simmering water (double boiler), melt:

3 sticks (12 oz) butter
5 oz. unsweetened choc chips
1/3 bag of choc chipsCool slightly, just enough so that the eggs won’t cook when you add them. Add:
6 large eggs
glug of vanilla
13.5 oz. sugar
4.7 oz. flour
1/4 oz. baking powder
1-2 tsp. salt*
the rest of the choc chips
nuts on top, optional
Bake in papered half-sheet pan (jelly roll size?) at 350 until the middle is set, about 25 min.
*My friend Abby who gave me this recipe says, don’t be afraid to go heavy on the salt!

Chocolate sauce
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
2-1/2 cups white sugar
1-3/4 cups water
1-1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup of butter

 Want the spicier version? Add 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper.