Thursday, September 9, 2010

Things I have cooked this summer.

A custard apple in Bangalore

Back in elementary school, I remember being asked what I had done over summer vacation. I can't remember what I said--Cape May, probably. I probably would have talked about theater camp. Maybe I would have mentioned that I did the summer reading program at the public library.

Clearly, I was really cool.

This summer, however, I was all over: Boston, Lancaster, Philadelphia, New York, India. When I was in elementary school, I would never have imagined traveling like I do. It never would have occurred to me that I could. I hadn't even been on a plane.

Now I have frequent-flyer miles to use.

But I don't intend do travel like that again. I neglected my blog, and when I did get time in the kitchen, it was for outrageous parties.

Of course, no photos were taken during any of these parties--I was too busy replenishing the buffet, or having one too many mimosas. But the menus are vividly remembered by all those in attendance.

My favorite our events this summer was a Sunday brunch. We did three tarts and three muffins along with mimosas. The crab and tarragon tarts, as well as the haricot vert, tomato and goat cheese tarts, came from this Gourmet article. The third tart was sweet--lemon curd and strawberries in a pate brisse crust. I made that one up as I went, and trust that y'all could probably figure it out yourselves. If you're curious as to where all these mini tart tins came from, I found an incredible restaurant supply store that specializes in disposable items like paper cocktail napkins, boxes for cookies, paper cups...Philadelphians, I'm talking about the unnamed place at 5th and Bainbridge.

The three muffins were actually three variations on muffins. The first was a corn muffin with a goat cheese frosting. Our second, and perhaps most popular muffin, was the cheddar and herb biscuit with cream cheese. The sweet muffin (or cupcake) was a blueberry cupcake with brown butter maple glaze. All three of these came from Ming Makes Cupcakes. Click on "Savouries" for the first two.

Pulling off a party like this--for twenty, I think--takes some help. And some tricks. So if you're planning on trying a brunch like this, which worked wonderfully for the types of a friends we have (that is, people who pop in and out, like to snack, like to "try things" but would be wary to commit to a whole slice of crab tarragon tart--oh, and who like to dance), here's some advice.

First, get help. Roommate Laura and her then-boyfriend helped me slice strawberries, roll pie tart dough, and ice cupcakes.

Secondly, choose menu items that can be done ahead of time. We baked all the muffins the night before, kept them in the fridge, and had the oven free to bake off the tarts the next morning. If possible, when throwing a party like this, keep the party utensil-free.

Lastly, come up with a solid clean up plan. We had people put their plates in one plastic tub and their glassware in another. That way, things are neatly separated already, and not hogging up your sink.

Other menus centered around lasagna, chicken enchiladas, ethic finger foods, summer fruit cupcakes, and our new grill pan. I plan on posting some of those recipes as I remember them, or rather, get to re-test them.

But in the near future, we need to talk about tomatoes and peaches. Before they're all gone.