Thursday, September 9, 2010

Annie's Big 3-0: the food

Food is always my favorite part of any celebration! And, despite the fact that I'm not a seafood lover, the food was definitely a highlight of Annie's party.

The Menu
Sparkling Meyer Lemon and Fuji Apple Juices
Bergenost, Brie, and Herbed Boursin Cheeses with an assortment of Crackers
Sweet Potato Fries with Crushed Rosemary and Kosher Salt
Field Greens, Dried Cranberries, Sugared Almonds, and Feta dressed with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Buttered Rolls
Seafood Boil with New Potatoes, Corn on the Cob, Smoked Sausage, Crab Legs, and Shrimp
Individual Tart Cherry Crumb Cakes with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

The food was a mixture of ready-made, prepared the night before, and cooked on the spot. The juices came from World Market, and were both beautifully bottled and delicious. The cheeses, crackers, and grapes all came from Costco and needed minimal preparation, as did the buttered rolls and salad. The Cherry Crumb Cakes were quite a bit of work, but they were made the night before, cooled, and wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. They only needed to plated, drizzled with glaze, and topped with ice cream at the party. The sweet potato fries and seafood boil were the only things we really had to make right then and there while guests were mingling and munching on appetizers.

After experimenting a little with homemade sweet potato fries and getting disappointing results, we finally decided to buy Alexia Foods' frozen Sweet Potato Fries from Costco instead. We gave them a quick fry on a propane camp stove, tossed them with crushed, dried rosemary and kosher salt, and devoured them. They were an amazing combination of sweet, savory, and salty, and infinitely better than the ones I tried to make at home!

My husband decided to start frying our turkeys for Thanksgiving a few years ago, so we have a huge propane burner and enormous stock pot with a strainer, all of which came in very handy for the seafood boil. We seasoned the water with McCormick's Shrimp Boil seasoning, a few quartered onions and some lemon slices, added new potatoes, and brought it to a boil. Then we added Hillshire Farms Beef Smoked Sausage that had been cut into 2" pieces and a few pounds of crab legs. That's about all we could fit for the first round of cooking. **An aside: from the start, Annie had her heart set on a seafood boil, but wanted the party to be a little fancier than cooked seafood poured directly onto the table, so we decided to put the seafood into trays to serve it. The trays had to be large enough to fit quite a bit of seafood, yet small enough to fit on the table without having to clear off plates and centerpieces, and low enough that they wouldn't prevent conversation. While researching the possibility of metal garbage can lids at Home Depot, we discovered galvanized metal trays that are 16" wide and only 4" deep. Lined with a few sheets of white freezer paper, they made perfect seafood boil servers.** When the first batch of food was done, we divided the potatoes, sausage, and crab legs among the four metal serving trays and set them aside while cooking the second batch of food. Since it was just shrimp and corn on the cob, we knew it would only take a few minutes to cook and that everything would stay hot. Once all the food was cooked and divided among the serving trays, we sprinkled a little Slap Yo Mama Cajun Seasoning on top and set them out. We strategically placed a few small dishes containing lemon slices, spicy mustard, salt and pepper, and Old Bay seasoning around the table and let people go for it. And did they ever! The crab legs were a last minute addition, so we didn't have any claw crackers or whatever you use to eat crab legs. People just whacked at them with their spoons and sent bits of shell everywhere. It was pretty entertaining!

1 comment:

  1. I could eat brie for every meal, every day for the rest of my life. Glorious menu! Looks like the party was wonderful.

    Your blog is too cute.