Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Party Favor

Our pulpit minister celebrates his 40th birthday--today. His very outgoing and over the top wife wanted to plan a surprise birthday party for her beloved and approached Kendra and me in February to see if we could help with the food. We love them both very much and agreed without hesitation because we feel that "they" were very much a part of the human side of this move from Fort Worth to Tulsa--God made it happen.

This wasn't going to be just ANY surprise party. There was a professional party planner, a committee which consisted of: the caterer, the decorator, the game show host, the MC, the vidographer, the sound technician, the baker who was going to make the cake, and the wife who fronted several thousand dollars for this event.

My focus was food and I really didn't put much else into thought--just food and nothing but food. It was all I really needed to focus on, as a helper bee I tend to get distracted in the assistance of others and allow what I need to do to go down the toilet. I've always been a helper bee. I can remember being one of the last students at my desk still working while the other kids were playing and stopping so kids could get an impression of my awesome pewter Superman belt buckle. I wish I still had that buckle!
To make this event a little more special, I decided to try something I've never tried before in having servers walk around with trays full of food, not buffet tables. Would it work? The theme for the event was, "through the decades" focusing on the lifespan of our guest of honor. Beginning with the 60's and moving up to current day, each corner of the room would be decorated with iconic elements of that era. At one of those corners I put the drink station (punch, Orange tea, and water), then the cake station, and the other three stations were cold food tables. In the picture on the left you can see how the screen was decorated. it was very cool.
Cold station food:
Fruit Salad: Mandarin Oranges, Grapes, Red and Green Apples, Pineapple, Blueberries, and Strawberries. I made a mint infused simple syrup consisting of equal parts sugar and water into which I placed a hand full of mint, brought all of that to a boil and cooked it until it was clear. Then I let it cool and tossed the fruit into the syrup, it just barely coated the fruit and made it really good.
Veggie Tray: We had mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, New potato wedges (boiled in Zataran's creole seasoning), carrots, broccoli and pepper strips. I served that with a bowl of Garlic and Ricotta Dip (my cookbook calls it Garlic Yogurt dip). I love this dip and have been making it for over ten years.
Cheese ball: This is my standard cheese ball that I have made for years. It's the tried and true go to cheese ball I always make and always use. The tray we found at target. Kendra and I wanted to put the cheese ball on a pedestal then surround it by crackers. Well, we couldn't find a pedestal so we made one. We took a melamine plate, turned a bowl upside down then used foam tape to attach and viola--cheese ball pedestal. It looked really cool.
I only have my camera phone to take pictures most of the time because I do not have the wherewith all to keep a camera at the ready. This tray of snacks wasn't the best one we presented, but I wanted a picture of the hot foods to show in this post, and just took this one in a rush. I'll work from left to right and talk about each one. They were all delicious if I do say so myself.
Mini Reuben: I read a recipe for a Reuben snack and adapted it for my own purposes. We were expecting 3-400 so I had to make around 500+ of each snack to have enough. I started with Reuben cocktail bread then placed a slice of corned beef onto the bread. After that I put a 1/4 inch slice of Swiss cheese and baked that in a 350 oven until the cheese melted. After it came out I put a dollop of thousand island dressing, sauerkraut and green onion. I don't like Rubens because I don't like any of the components that make it. But, these were great! I would recommend them for your next party.
Spinach Puffs: I love spinach puffs. It's a very basic snack. Spinach, onion, garlic, stuffing crumbs, nutmeg salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese all mixed with egg and baked. They are really tasty.
Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade roll: This was my personal favorite. Puff pastry (my first time working with this! Can you believe that?) rolled into an 11x13 inch rectangle. The tapenade was sun-dried tomato, olives, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil food processed into a somewhat thick paste. I spread the pastry with the tapenade then rolled it in each direction to meet in the middle. Baked at 350 until it bubbled and hit with Romano cheese as it came out of the oven. So good.
Sliders: All the rage right now are mini-burgers. These puppies are everywhere. The guest of honor loves hamburgers so this seemed a logical choice to me. Simple hamburger mini sized. I made a sauce of Ketchup, Dijon Mustard, and Mayonnaise mixed with Steak seasoning and slathered it on the burger. They were very popular.
Six Cheese Sausage balls: Kendra and I love sausage balls and these were our version of the sausage ball but we added six cheeses and Italian seasoning to them to make them a little more sophisticated. The cheese got all crispy on the outside and stayed tender and delicious. The trick to sausage balls is to make sure the sausage breaks down and gets incorporated into the cheese and biscuit mix. That's critical. I have a friend in Texas who puts cheese whiz in his sausage balls, but have never taken the leap into that one.
All in all the event was a success. 32 hours of cooking, plating, and cleaning all came together to make a stunning party. Catering is really about loving your food more and knowing you are presenting a good product because when the event happens you usually don't' get recognized as such. The food stands on it's own.


Memaw's memories said...

Everything looks great. You did a tremendous amount of work for this shin-dig.

Hope everything else turned out as good as the food.