Voting is now open for Challenge #3. If you'd like to attend my party, please RSVP here.
Thank you, sincerely, to everyone who voted for my Challenge #2 post in Project Food Blog! I so appreciate the support, and I now invite you to come to a dinner party held in your honor--it's all about comfort-with-a-twist. Voting for Challenge #3 in Project Food Blog--Luxury Dinner Party--begins Monday, October 4. I'll have a link here as well as over on my Project Food Blog page. Enjoy!
When you ask a great chef what he or she would like to eat at his/her last meal, you might expect some pretty rarefied responses. Maybe one of those dishes that you find at very pretentious restaurants whose title takes up five lines of the menu? Perhaps they'd go for the daring: live octopus? Fugu? Mayhap the disturbing: balut? Casu Marzu? Heck, they're dying anyway, right?
Many of the actual responses might surprise you: A perfectly roasted chicken. A hamburger topped with a fried egg. A hot dog. A slice of lemon tart. In the end, we all crave comfort.
So, for this dinner party, I knew I wanted to go the comfort route. Not because this was going to be anybody's last meal, but because I love the people for whom I was cooking, and I wanted them to be familiar with all the dishes while adding just a bit of a twist to many of them. I also knew that three of my guests would be under thirteen, and one hasn't yet reached the "Must Be This Tall to Ride" mark at the fair. I wanted my young guests to try everything, and I knew they'd be more likely to try foods with names they'd at least heard.
My theme--comfort--was nailed down, but which comfort foods? Being less-than-uptight when it comes to parties, I decided to throw a few darts into the Hinternet and see what I'd hit. I hit the mother lode, Reasons-for-Celebrating Central: an encyclopedic listing of every food observance known to man, from Soup Day to Nuts Week.
Of course, I checked out October-as-a-whole, the first week in October and the day of the party, October 1. There was an exhaustive listing, and these were the ones I chose for the menu:
- National Apple Month
- National Caramel Month
- National Chili Month
- National Cookie Month
- National Dessert Month
- National Pasta Month
- National Pickled Peppers Month
- National Popcorn Poppin' Month
- National Pork Month
- National Pretzel Month
- Vegetarian Awareness Month
- National Chili Week
October 1st Observances
- World Vegetarian Day
- Pudding Season Begins
- Homemade Cookies
And since nothing goes better with dinner than a movie, we also celebrated Richard Harris's October-1st birthday by watching him portray Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. But not inside. Oh, no, we watched it on Thomas and Roberta's big old outdoor movie screen! Plus, we ate over at their place, too; we just carted all the dishes over when I was finished with my marathon cooking session.
And there you have it. A dinner party perfect for adults and kids alike, one without fancy-schmancy table settings or a high price tag. One that was all about comfort: for ourselves and especially for our guests.
You, too, can throw the same type of party. Know your guests and their food comfort levels. Cook for everyone's tastes. Get creative with your celebration--after all, just because it's none of your guests' birthdays doesn't mean you can't throw a birthday party. Every day is somebody's birthday.
PS Dinner Party Recipes/Methods
- caramel corn
- bread pretzels
- I didn't use a recipe for the pasta--I just made a Béchamel sauce and folded al dente pasta, browned Italian sausage and wee cubes of fontina cheese into it. Bake and done.
- For the chili, I threw all of my vegetables, including some dried black beans, into a pot with water seasoned with chili-type spices, salt and pepper. I simmered it all together until the beans were cooked through. Added a little cocoa powder for a bass note and some corn flour for thickening. Very easy, very tasty.
- Trifle--layer together cubed pound cake liberally doused with sherry and raspberry jam. Pour over homemade vanilla pudding (I made 3 cups worth), making sure it oogies all down in between the cubes of pound cake. Let that set up in the fridge, and then dollop on as much whipped cream as you want.
- Dip the apples in boiling water for a few seconds, then shock in ice water. Rub off the wax with a paper towel. Make actual caramel for your caramel apples. I doubled the recipe, doubled the salt and flavored mine with maple and vanilla extracts. Then, I either rolled my enrobed apples in mini chocolate chips or sprinkled them with coarse sea salt.
PPS One of Albus Dumbledore's favorite foods is raspberry jam. Hence the raspberry jam in the trifle.
PPPS If you would love to attend a Dinner-and-a-Movie-Comfort-Food-Fest, please consider sending me your RSVP by voting for my entry. Voting opens Monday, October 4. Thank you!