May 04 2018 – Laura Wright
E A S Y W E E K N I G H T H O S T I N G
I’ve been working with a lovely group of girls to host a Make-A-Wish fundraiser to benefit children and their families in our community. Our event will be based around a champagne or ‘bubbly’ bar… and obviously, my major role in this was designing the invitations! I presented four different invitation ideas and the committee chose to go in the direction of the ‘COUPE’ invitation and coordinating response card… both pieces will soon be available online to set the tone for your next champagne party!
Once the invites were designed, proofed and printed, we decided to add a little extra flare with… you guessed it, GLITTER!! Embellishment is a service I provide for all paper goods and generally complete by hand. In this case, my fab committee showed up to help. They also addressed, stuffed and stamped all 500 (yes, 500) invitations. And am I sure glad they did! It took six of us four hours to complete the task at hand.
I knew before we began that this would take a while and thought it best to have small bites and libations on hand. With an hour of prep the night before and forty minutes between work and my guests arrival, I had a pretty snazzy spread. Here are the details and the review…
DECOR: Seasonal fresh cut tulips in a simple glass vase is all you need to spruce up your space!
NAPKINS: Cheap-o paper napkins from TJ MAXX added a splash of color and pattern. I learned from my mother to always keep a large selection of party napkins around…!
SALAD PLATES: assorted KATE SPADE CHARLOTTE STREET (available in four different patterns)
GLASSES: SCHOTT ZWIESEL PURE DOUBLE OLD FASHIONED technically a whiskey glass, but we often use as a stemless wine or cocktail glass... a glass of choice in our home.
SERVING PIECES: assorted… no need to get matchy-matchy!
C O C K T A I L M E N U
RUBY RED GRAPEFRUIT ROSE: crisp, refreshing and affordable. One of my summer go-tos!
MERF CHARDONNAY: I honestly bought this because I loved the cheerful yellow label, something my father said never to do... oops!
SAN PELLIGRINO: in the glass bottle, because it’s the prettiest… a staple in our fridge.
BLUEBERRY SIMPLE SYRUP: perfect to jazz up an drink...
ORANGE SIMPLE SYRUP: add a splash to your wine, sparkling water or vodka!
A P P M E N U
BITE SIZE TOMATO TARTS
I modified this WILLIAMS-SONOMA RECIPE to make bite sized tarts instead of one large pie. I followed the filling directions as stated, but used Athen's store bought mini fillo cups instead, and used heirloom grape tomatoes instead of large tomatoes. I filled 30 (two boxes of) cups and had plenty of extra filling for more… I could have made double! Tarts were baked at 350 degrees for fifteen minutes. (I baked the gluten free ‘tart’ in the ramekin at the same temp and time). Once out of the oven, I allowed the tarts to cool before arranging them on the platter and sprinkling with chopped chives.
Review: Easy to fake being a gourmet chef with this one. Delicious straight out of the oven or cooled to room temp. One of my friends said it was the best thing she’s ever eaten! One word sums it up: yummmmmmmmmm!
BITE SIZE LEMON CURD TARTS WITH BLUEBERRIES
I’m a JOULE SOUS VIDE girl. If you’ve got one, this CHEF STEPS RECIPE is a breeze!
Review: Bright, cheerful, summery flavor. The bite size makes them refreshing and light. The blueberries aren’t necessary, but add another layer of complexity. Note that once the curd goes in the refrigerator, it will set and no longer be easily shaped or manipulated. I hadn’t thought this through while making, so I had to improvise and use a melon baller to scoop the curd into the fillo cups. The next time I do this, I will simply pour the liquid curd into the cups before I refrigerate.
ORANGE & BLUEBERRY SIMPLE SYRUPS
The options are endless here. One cup water, one cup sugar, add the fruit/s and/or zest of your choice and throw into a zip lock bag. Sous vide with the JOULE at 135 degrees for two hours. When finished submerge in an ice bath. Once cool, thoroughly strain. Pour into an air-tight container and refrigerate. Lasts for up to two weeks.
FREEZE DRIED PINEAPPLE from Aldi
FREEZE DRIED ASIAN PEARS in retrospect, not the best thing to serve on a humid day…
GLUTEN FREE CRACKERS from Aldi
KERRYGOLD DUBLINER CHEESE, sliced
P R E P / T I M E L I N E
A FEW NIGHTS BEFORE- Look over your recipes, make your grocery list. Grocery shop. Make your simple syrups. Buy fresh flowers, cut and arrange in a vase.
ONE NIGHT BEFORE- Make the lemon curd and assemble according to recipe. Make the filling for the tomato tarts. Rinse and slice tomatoes and place in the refrigerator. Rinse and finely chop the chives. Clean any berries or fresh fruit. Tidy up the house, have all dishes clean and put away. Set up your serving area. Wipe any water spots for glassware.
FORTY MINUTES BEFORE GUESTS ARRIVE- Turn on oven. Assemble tomato tarts, bake. Slice cheese. Put out nuts, dried fruit, chocolate. Uncork wine bottles and set out the ice.
TEN MINUTES BEFORE GUESTS ARRIVE- Throw your baking sheet in the dishwasher, out of site! Freshen up, light a candle, turn on lights and get ready to enjoy the evening!
T I P S
- Consider your guests… if you have a gluten-free guest, set aside lemon curd and berries in a small bowl and bake a small tomato tart in a ramekin. If you know your guests like Chardonnay, be sure to have enough.
- If you are gathering for a meeting or craft, have everything on hand and in the area you will work. For instance, I had enough pens, glitter, glue and envelope glue for everyone. The invitations, response cards, envelopes and guests list were easily accessible and organized in the dining room where we worked.
- Along the same lines… anticipate your guests need before they even ask. Have a wine opener, straws, napkins and anything else you think you may need at an arm’s reach.
- Cool down your room… if you are going to seat eight people in your dining room, it will warm up quick. Set the temp accordingly!
- Relax… your guests will appreciate any gesture at all. Didn’t get around to making an app… just forget it. Your guests will never be the wiser!
Now, GO! Call your friends, host an upcoming meeting or casual social evening… it’s simple and oh-so fun! XO,
OH! AND IF YOU LIVE IN THE QUINCY AREA… Please be sure to join us for our upcoming MAKE-A-WISH Event! It will be a great evening for a great cause!!