"LIVE! LIVE! LIVE! Life's a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death"
attributed to Mame Dennis

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Birthday Party

Last week, I drove down to Maryland to surprise my mom for her 60th birthday. My brothers and I agreed about a month ago that we should do something special for her. As so often happens with anything involving me and event planning, the whole thing snowballed into an open house with everyone we could think of invited.

I cooked as much as possible ahead of time and took it down with me in a cooler. (empanada fillings, cheesecake) I also arrived armed with ingredients and spices that I didn't want to be missing or have to run out to buy if there wasn't any in my parents' house. (I didn't expect them not to have onions.) I made good time driving and made the caponata that afternoon. The next day, I baked the chocolate cake, and drafted my Oma into helping me assemble the empanadas. I was glad we had the frozen tapas (empanada dough) because we ended up making 120 of them!

The day of the party, I laid out serving dishes and the like. I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to avoid my mom's questions. (We tried to keep it a bit of a surprise, but she could tell by the amount of food that it wasn't going to be just a "family dinner" as we had told her.)

Prunes & Bacon, Nora's Classic Hors D'Oeuvre

Finger Lakes Cheese Board
Cowlick Farm Raw Jersey Milk Cheeses
Lively Run Goat Farm Chevre, plain and herbs de provence
Tompkins King Apple Slices
Assorted crackers

Caponata with crostini

Aunt Loreen's Tortilla Dip with chips
(mandatory at any family function)

Aunt Patricia's sandwiches de miga

Carne-- Ground beef with hard boilded eggs, green olives and raisins
Barbeque-- Pulled pork with Dinosaur BBQ's Roasted Garlic & Honey Sauce
Humita-- Corn with roasted red peppers in a white sauce
Calabaza-- Maple roasted butternut and acorn squashes, mashed with cinnamon and nutmeg

Chef Karl's Protein Platter (my youngest brother's contribution)
(Bite sized pieces to be eaten with toothpicks) 
Pork Tenderloin * Petite Filet of Beef * Another cut of beef, which escapes me at the moment * Argentine Chorizo

Served with trio of sauces
Demi Glace * Chimichurri * Spicy Citrus

"Queen of Our Hearts" salad 
Hearts of Romaine & Hearts of Palm with salsa golf (Thousand Island dressing)
Baby Spinach & Arugula salad  
with roasted pears and spiced walnuts, served with balsamic vinagrette

Mulled Cider, with rum to spike (if desired)

NY Style Cheesecake
Chocolate Cappuccino Torte
served with vanilla & coffee ice creams

photo courtesy Cristina Green

The empanadas were the most popular item. The pulled pork being the favorite filling. I thought it turned out too salty, but apparently it wasn't too bad! We could have made twice as many and they would have been happily eaten. Warming them up was a bit of a hassle, since I had hostessing duties as well. Luckily, my Tante Rita (mom's sister visiting from California) took this over for a time.

I had printed up a menu, to cut up and make labels with, but this only got done for the empanadas.
Each different filling had a different closure, so I could tell which was which, but that didn't help anyone else. I didn't want to tackily stick the papers on the serving dishes and I couldn't come up with better at the time. Next time I do a party with this sort of set up, especially with this number of people (about 60 in the end, way more than the house was ever intended to hold!), I will find a way to do labels. Small picture frames would be nice.

Also, I should have done a lot more pre-cutting of cheese and putting caponata on crostini, not leaving this for people to do themselves. I think alot more would have been eaten this way.  Live and learn!

In the end, it was a very successful event. People seemed to be having a good time, and I don't think anyone went home hungry. Most importantly, my mom had a ball seeing all the familiar, loving faces there to celebrate her.


Cristina said...

it was a wonderful spread and the people were lovely. thanks so much for having me! i NEED that recipe for the carne empanadas as well . . . :D

Corinna said...

Post dedicated to empanadas forthcoming. :c)

Cristina said...

that is music to my ears!