Saturday is the 24x24 party. It's been a LOT of fun to plan. I thought I'd share some of the planning with you.
Foodbuzz sent out an RFP (request for proposal) stating the theme would be the Gulf. And, the stipend would go to the Gulf recovery. New Orleans is one of my favorite cities. I've visited there several times and have had a wonderful time every time. The food is just incredible. Since I enjoy the food so much, New Orleans inspired food frequently appears on our menu.
In fact, several months ago I had leftover crab cakes and decided to make eggs benedict with a twist - using the crab cakes instead of the ham and adding the remoulade sauce to the hollandaise. It was such a smashing hit that it's now our standard eggs benedict fare.
The crab cakes benedict became the focal point of the party - a New Orleans brunch.
Next, I needed to come up with a menu. Bloody Marys are our brunch drink of choice. St. Elmo's just started bottling their famous shrimp cocktail sauce. And, we've got some homemade pepper vodka. We made savory s'mores while the kids were here and they were a huge hit. That'll be one of the appetizers. For the holiday party, I made up some salami rolls with chopped green olives. What if I replaced the olives with muffaletta salad? Perfect.
On to the salad course. Last year I made a shrimp and crab appetizer in a martini glass. Donna actually took photos of it! What if I made a base of tomato aspic, topped that with an avocado mousse and topped that with a mixture of crabmeat and shrimp dressed with a lime cumin vinaigrette? What's the worst that could happen? We'd toss it out.
On to fruit. Hurricanes are pretty famous drinks. Rum and rum and fruit juices. Sounds like a pretty good fruit salad dressing.
Finally, the entree. What goes with crab cakes benedict? How about rosemary potatoes and grilled asparagus?
Last, dessert. What are the desserts New Orleans is known for? Bread pudding. Doris made one that was incredible. Chocolate chip with rum cinnamon sauce. Yum.
Ok, the menu is set. Now on to the guest list. That was pretty easy. We were already scheduled to have dinner on the 24th with our friends Susan and Paul. A couple of weeks ago we had to cancel on Joe and Susan. The two couples have met and enjoyed each other so let's have the six of us. Then, I talked to Stacy and told her about the party and that I had a week to learn to use my new camera. She's a former professional photographer and offered to give me lessons. She's also a foodie - fantastic cook! I asked if she'd like to help cook. Would she ever. Now, I'm not about to have a friend help cook and not invite her to the party. The heck with how I'd planned the table, Stacy's more important.
A quick review of the bar revealed a lack of matching wine glasses. Not a big deal when there are 20 family members here and nobody expects the wine glasses to match. BIG deal when one is having a party like this. I also wanted some nice plastic glasses for the bloody marys - out on the screened porch. And, some New Orleans themed decor would be lovely for the table. Now, I hate shopping. So, I knew I was in for a horrid evening. It was. I won't recount the number of stores I went to to find everything I needed. Let's just say that we now have matching wine glasses, great glasses for outdoors and New Orleans themed decor. WHEW!
Next is the schedule. What needs to be done when. House cleaned. Grocery shopping. Table ready to go: Napkins washed and ironed. Candle holders cleaned and candles replaced. Dishes out. I always do a written plan for the party. If I follow it, I tend not to miss things. If I don't I typically open the refrigerator the day after the party and find something I just didn't serve.
After the basic schedule is the food prep schedule. I usually do that on a spreadsheet. All of the recipes are either printed or the page in the cookbook is marked. From that I can do the grocery list. We live in the midst of grocery central. A couple of regular stores - one half a mile away, the other about a mile away. Then, there's a Trader Joe's about 3 miles up the street. A Sam's a bit further than that. A great liquor store, a really fun wine store and a fabulous bread shop are within a mile also. I make the list based on what we're going to find where or what we HOPE to find where :-) Connie normally does the shopping. Wonderful guy that he is!!!
Now, it's on to the party on Saturday.