Get out! I moved on to Challenge #3…..The Luxury Dinner?! Now, let me preface this challenge by saying that I am not a luxury girl. I don’t own fine china, elegant vases, or even table cloths. My bowls are homemade and mismatched. And yes, I still decorate with Christmas lights in my apartment. My idea of a “luxury dinner” is lots of friends, laughter, music, and above all good food. Oh, and I do not want to be stuck in the kitchen at a party. (That happened before when I hosted a make-your-own pizza party.) In this month’s Bon Appetit, there was an article about Melissa McClure, who hosts a Soupapolooza for her friends every Sunday. She makes a different soup each week, and her friends bring with them a few side dishes. It sounded so fantastic that I finished the article wishing I was Melissa’s friend so that I could be invited to her soup parties. Since I didn’t know if I would advance until Friday afternoon to the next Project Food Blog challenge (and I was out of town/running a half-marathon this weekend), I just decided go ahead and plan to have my own sort of Soupapolooza party this week. When I ordered my textbooks for classes, I splurged and also bought Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t made a single dish out of the cookbook. Therefore, I decided it would be a French-themed Soupapolooza. In the world of social networking, I sent out a Facebook event to all of my Burlington friends inviting them over for a Soupapolooza party. I’d supply light appetizers, French soup, salad, and dessert. My friends would bring bread and wine. Done, easy.
TWO DAYS BEFORE:
- I started looking for some French songs for the playlist because good tunes are key.
- I also cleaned the apartment of cat hair. Also key:)
- I found all of my recipes from Dorie’s cookbooks and went grocery shopping. I decided on the Spiced Butternut, Fennel, and Pear Soup and the Tarte Fine, as well as a mixed salad with homemade vinaigrette. Appetizers would just be cheese, crackers and slices of apples.
- I kept the menu vegetarian since I have a few friends who don’t eat meat. (It’s also cheaper!) I decided to buy French wine as well because, well, I’d rather have too much than too little. I don’t know much about wine except that some friends like red and others like white. I picked up a bottle of each.
ONE DAY BEFORE:
- I made the Soupe épicée à la courge musquée, au fenouil, et à la poire (aka the Spiced Butternut, Fennel, and Pear Soup) so all I had to do is reheat it before the party. My one complaint is that my French cookbook doesn’t have the recipe names in French. Since parrots could pick up the French language quicker than I could, I had to ask a French professor and use Google translate. (And I’m still sure I goofed a bit on some translations!)
DAY OF PARTY:
- I set the appetizers, drinks, bowls, napkins, and silverware in advance. I’ve found that people will ask lots of question about where things are located if you don’t do this step.
- I made some small flower arrangements from a larger bouquet that my aunt sent me. My first time getting flowers at work! I like small flower arrangements so you can see the person across the table.
- Music playlist ready to go! This was fun to play as a prepped for the party.
- I made a basic salad: arugula, local greens, cucumber, celery, and red pepper. (Note: I should have washed the local greens a bit more……little sandy. Oops.) I made this recipe for a homemade vinaigrette.
- About half an hour before guests arrived I put the Tarte Fine in the oven. This is absurdly easy to make and totally elegant looking. It’s puff pastry with sliced apples and an apricot glaze. I added a little bit of cinnamon to play off the spiced soup.
- Whipped up a few chocolate truffles. I had leftover chocolate ganache in the freezer from the tart noire. I rolled some into balls and coated them with chopped pistachio nuts. This took about two minutes. Awesome.
- Hung up the required dinner menu.
- Drank a glass of wine with Rachel before everyone else arrived.
THE SOUPAPOLOOZA PARTY:
The cast of characters……that’s eight if you count The Dude who liked to hang out on party-goers laps.
We had plenty of wine and Rachel brought Otter Creek ales for everyone.
We mingled and enjoyed the appetizers: apple wedges, crackers, fig & hazelnut spread, and slices of cheese. Put it all together and it makes one mighty fine nibble.
The mismatched bowls of soup were gorgeous.
Dorie recommended serving them with lemon juice, sour cream, and roasted pumpkin seeds. We all found that the lemon juice really enhanced the soup’s flavors.
Lots of laughter at the dinner table. Success! People commented how filling the soup was as well. (Thankfully, they didn’t go on about the gritty greens.)
However, when I brought out the Tarte Fine to the table for dessert, it didn’t last long. I loved that it was essentially like eating apple pizza for dessert.
Then we all split some chocolate truffles…..
….and all wanted to plan our next Soupapolooza party. I think a new tradition is taking roots.