Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tapas Party

It seems another week has passed and all I can plead is summer.  It has been an especially busy one, probably just like yours! I promised more details on the Tapas party and here they are.  Now in retrospect, I would never try this for 30 people again, at least not in a small cottage kitchen with limited space to prep and clean up.  We were running to get each course ready and we were blessed with 4 very capable volunteers.  Having said that, one of the great things about this kind of party is that almost all of the foods can be prepared ahead of time and just put on the plate.
 This first course consisted of grapes, almonds spiced with paprika and fresh rosemary, marinated olives and mushrooms, toasted whole grain baguettes and herbed olive oil for dipping the bread.  Super easy.  We served four courses and we tried to include different flavors,( sweet, savory, pickled), and different textures in each course.  Recipes were found on Pinterest and can be found by following the links in the description.

I didn't get a photo of the second course that night, once again, running! but I did find a photo on my phone from trying this out at my daughter's house to see how it all went together. They loved being our guinea pigs:) The second course consisted of an assortment of cheeses including manchego, brie and goat cheese with wild blueberries (Costco!), an assortment of cured meats including prosciutto, summer sausage and salami, assorted crackers, dried cherries drizzled with honey, sliced guava paste, and pickled beets.  I know that sounds like a lot, but each board served 4 people so there are only a few bites of each thing for per person. One of the reasons we felt the need to try it out was to see if these small bites would be enough. They were! You can, of course offer less choices, maybe just one or two different things with a little more in each serving.  It is a menu that can be anything you want it to be!
The third course was Pork empanadas with thyme, melon skewers, dilled green beans, and those little forks sticking up in the middle were dried figs stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with lavender and thyme infused honey! Oh my goodness, so good.  The recipe I found actually called for fresh figs and I couldn't find them anywhere. Maybe they aren't in season this time of year? But the dried figs worked fine and were so delicious, we loved the infused honey too.

The final course was small servings of lemon cheesecake with lemon curd and white chocolate raspberry cheesecake with raspberry sauce and chocolate ganache...and a teeny scoop of raspberry sorbet.  No photo because by then we were all beat and surrounded by dishes.  I have my limits.  It was all served outside on a perfect, warm evening with candles and flowers on the tables and good friends laughing and trying new things.  The best thing about this type of party is the slow way it is served, one course at a time, which leaves plenty of time for conversation and relaxing around the table.

If you are interested in checking out the Tapas board and the pins I used for inspiration and recipes you can find it here.

We find summer to be the best time to entertain. With a very small house and a very large yard and garden, it's just easier to have as many people over as we want to.  How about you, do you prefer to entertain inside or out?

Monday, July 13, 2015

The 2015 Christian Education Appreciation Dinner

The past week (and more) has been taken up with preparing our annual appreciation dinner for the workers in our church's children's department.  We have an outstanding staff and stellar volunteers who spend many hours giving to our kids. Teaching them about faith and love, practicing programs and plays, putting on a fabulous VBS program every year.  They deserve a night out, to be waited on hand and foot and a chance to relax and not lift a finger. That is our goal.
This year Earl and I thought it would be fun to put on a Tapas dinner in the yard. Tapas means "small plate" and is meant to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace. It is a wonderful way to enjoy a relaxed meal of lots of fun foods with plenty of time for conversation and laughter around the table. We brought out 4 courses over the evening and if feedback is any indication, a good time was had by all.
 The first course, marinated mushrooms and olives, fresh grapes, toasted bread, pesto and herbed olive oil for dipping and almonds spiced with sea salt, rosemary and smoked paprika. Earl had a stash of hardwood veneers in his workshop and decided to use some of them to make some beautiful serving boards.
 A quick snapshot of the centerpieces lined up on the windowsill, Stella Doro lilies and lavender.
I didn't get a picture of the tables. Truth be told, we hit the ground running early in the day and I was lucky to remember to take pictures at all. Did I mention this dinner was for 30+ people?  Yes, and just so you know, this is a picture of the aftermath in the kitchen. Lord have mercy.  My daughter Lauren keeps telling me we make entertaining look easy.  I'm here to tell you it isn't, especially when it is for that many people.  I'm not even sure if that counts as entertaining so much as catering. The good thing about doing it at home is you can load the dishwasher, turn out the lights on the rest of the mess and fall into bed...which is pretty much what we did.  Would I do it again? Not for 30+ people. We were fortunate to have 4 adult volunteers who were real go getters. Thank goodness we had the help, I really don't think we could have done this without them. I will be sharing recipes and a few more pictures of the evening later. I think Tapas is a fabulous way to entertain a smaller group of friends and we found some recipes that we will be making again!  Now I need to catch up on all your posts, and yes, I'm still putting away dishes :)