Saturday, May 19, 2007

Party Planning

May 19

The party will be next Saturday; lists, schedules, and phone calls and shopping trips are being made round the clock. I could write a book about party planning, but I think that's been done.

People tend to ask, "What can I bring?" or "Can I bring anything?" At this time of year I like to serve cold champagne with foods at room temperature -- maybe with one hot dish -- and this year I'm answering the question with "I'm having salads and hors d'oeuvre...if you want to bring one or the other, feel free. But don't feel obligated because there's going to be plenty of food."

I'll provide a few chips and dips, including a killer guacamole with baked corn chips, a big bowl of crab salad and probably a green salad too, maybe with orange sections in it and a blue-cheese walnut dressing. I was going to do Julia Child's Deluxe Chicken salad because there is one guest who won't eat seafood, but it's labor intensive; although beautiful and delicious, it's probably just one thing too many. One of the guests has already volunteered a shrimp salad, and another has said she'd bring a salad.

I've baked five loaves of bread already. I make a rustic Italian bread for my own consumption, using equal parts whole wheat and white flour. I always have an extra loaf at parties, and it disappears in no time. The recipe makes three small round loaves, so I baked them a week ago and put them in the freezer. I decided to use the recipe for a white bread this time and see if I could shape it into baguettes, which gave me the idea of serving bruschetta, which I've always wanted to try.

The white loaves were as close to a disaster as bread can be, because it is always delicious. But these were difficult to work into loaves, and they both look like giant lumpy beanbags rather than baguettes. Oh well, for bruschetta I'll be slicing them anyway, and toasting them, then rubbing them with garlic and drizzling with olive oil. I'm already at work with the three toppings. I have a large jar of excellent Ni├žoise olives which I'm pitting one by one (natch) in advance, and will buzz into a Tapanade paste with anchovies, olive oil and basil. I've laid in some cans of cannellini beans to cook with sage and mash for another choice. On the day of, I'll chop some tomatoes with basil and drain for the third shmear for the tasty toasts.

All of this and the salads, some extra wine, and of course Ginger Lemonade (see my posts from April 2 and April 4) will assure that nobody goes hungry. I hope you're coming!

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