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Archive for the ‘Theme Parties’ Category

On May 5, we hosted a Cinco de Mayo dinner party with a few friends. I’m not sure what I was thinking because I had already a very busy week planned, then my dear Mom’s widow became ill and had to be hospitalized so we were running up to the hospital he was in (about 45 minutes away) every few days (he is doing better but still in the hospital). I only had 3 days to prepare!!! I chose the menu based on foods that I can make ahead of time, knowing that they would only get better! In case you wondered, I made a variation of this dip as hors d’œuvres, this salad and for the main, this pulled chicken molé AND a Dolce de Leche tiramisu (recipe to come) for dessert. It was a bit decadent, but sometimes I really need to play in the kitchen!

This lasagna is a delicious combination of flavours and it’s worth making each layer yourself, if you must, choose canned beans to save a little time.

It’s a flavour sensation! I put a poached egg on top the next day for a very tasty brunch!

Mexican Lasagna

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 4 as a meal or 6-8 as an appetizer

Ingredients for the Pulled Pork:

  • 250 g pork tenderloin
  • 125 mL (1/2 cup) stock (I used beef)
  • 250 mL (1 cup) passata (tomato sauce)
  • 125 g (1/2 cup) sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 5 mL (1 tsp) cumin
  • 5 mL (1 tsp) coriander
  • 5 mL (1 tsp) Hungarian paprika
  • 1.25 mL (1/4 tsp) smoked paprika
  • 2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) salt
  • 1.25 mL (1/4 tsp) pepper

Directions for the Pulled Pork:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a slow cooker or crock pot and mix well.
  2. Cook on high for 4 hours or until pork is easily pulled using two forks.

Ingredients for the Lasagna:

  • 6 corn tortillas, cut in half
  • 250 mL (about 1 cup) shredded pork (recipe above)
  • 85 g (1/2 cup) dried black beans, cooked and either puréed or mashed with a fork
  • 80 g (1/2 cup) sweet onions
  • 125 mL (1/2 cup) grilled corn
  • a handful (~1/4 cup) of cilantro
  • 125 mL (1/2 cup) Salsa
  • 150 g (about 1 cup) Mexican cheese or mozzarella
  • cilantro, for garnish
  • loosened yogurt (in a squeeze bottle)
  • sriracha sauce mixed with loosened yogurt (in a squeeze bottle)

Directions for the Lasagna:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220° C (425° F).
  2. In a non-stick skillet, caramelize the onions, add the beans, mushing some of the beans (add some stock if necessary). Set aside.
  3. Spray a pate terrine with non-stick spray.
  4. Layer 2 half corn tortillas on the bottom of the pan, cover with 1/3 of the shredded pork, 1/3 of the mashed beans, 1/3 of the corn, 1/3 of the cilantro, 1/2 of the salsa and 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat for two more layers, leaving out the salsa on the last layer. Cover with a non-stick sprayed piece of foil or the top of the pan, if you have one.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes covered, then uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and lightly golden. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
  6. Serve garnished with a drizzle of loosened greek yogurt and sriracha sauce and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.

Notes:

  • I was unable to find Mexican cheese so I used Manchego and Mozzarella.
  • If you cannot grill fresh corn, frozen is acceptable but you will miss the grilled flavour.
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Thank you for your wonderful birthday wishes, I am so blessed to belong to such a giving community. XOXO to you all!

The same weekend of my birthday, we were invited to another benchmark birthday party at one of our wonderful neighbours; it was a special “Studio 54” theme! What fun is that? And everyone came dressed like the 70’s — it was glam and it was fun. Thank you Iona (and Tom), and I hope you had an amazing birthday.

JT 1970s_0496

JT looking cool and hip; his pants usually don’t match my dress, though

Eva 1970s_0493

Those are curtain grommets decorating my dress!

Can you believe July is almost over? What ever happened to the summer? We’re still in high humidity and high temperatures so our meals tend to reflect lighter fare and foods that don’t need to be cooked or baked to limit the additional heat. This tuna Waldorf is a lovely adaption of the original Waldorf Salad made by Oscar Tschirky, the maître d’hôtel of the Astoria (the predecessor of the Waldorf Astoria) in New York City sometime between 1893 and 1896*. The original recipe is basically apples, walnuts and celery dressed in mayonnaise, but you know me, I try to healthy up the dish so I’ve made some alterations. I also like to serve it on a bed of greens but you can serve it on toasts or a wrap. We enjoyed this fast and easy dish at the cottage during our renos in early July.

Tuna Waldorf Salad

Serves 2 as a main coarse or 4 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

  • 1 tin albacore chunk tuna in water or stock (to make this vegetarian, you can omit this or used firm cubed tofu in its place)
  • 1 cup diced celery (dice all items similar size)
  • 1 green onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (you could give them a toast, if you’d like)
  • 1 diced apple
  • squirt of lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp chopped lemon thyme
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt (I used fat free)
  • 1 tbsp mayo (I used full strength)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (I added more lemon juice to imitate the tart flavour of the mayo, so I didn’t need to add more mayo)

Directions:

  1. Drain the tuna and set aside.
  2. Add the apple to a small bowl and squirt a bit of lemon juice on it to prevent it from oxidizing.
  3. Add the celery, green onion, walnuts and apple to a bowl and combine well.
  4. Combine the Greek yogurt, mayo and 1 tbsp lemon juice and stir well. Add it to the vegetable fruit mix and coat evenly.
  5. Add the chunk tuna and stir until equally distributed.
  6. Serve on a bed of greens or toast.
Waldorf Celery_0454

I have no idea why I shot the celery and nothing else, but since I had it, here it is!

Tuna Waldorf_0458

It was nice enough to sit outside even though it was a very overcast weekend.

I know many of the lovely readers of this blog have cottages or summer homes, so I thought I would pass along a little something I invented to help keep the mice off the cutlery in the drawers. Even though the mice don’t tend to enter the cottage during the warmer months, I cannot be 100% sure they are not having a hay-day dancing or whatever all over my cutlery, so I tend to wash them before use (as well as after use). I created this little invention to keep the buggers away from the cutlery, and I specifically chose plexy-glass so it would infuriate them as much as they infuriate me! So there, bugger mice, dance away because you can’t get there from here!

MouseProofDrawer_0459

The plexy-glass is cut to fit the parimetre and is glued with a bonding agent to the drawer without interfering with the roller mechanics. It is hinged about 1/3 the way out so that you can easily lift the other two thirds and balance it on the counter for easy access the cutlery.

*from Wikipedia

I’m taking a little time off over the next few days so if I am absent from your blog, I do apologize, but I need a bit of a break. See you soon.

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Remember my friends Angela and Gordon? They are the super organized couple who put on incredible theme parties for 8 of their lucky friends (remember Titanic 100th Anniversary and The Truman Capote Black and White Ball?). Well, they did it again and a few weeks ago we were invited to their James Bond 60th Anniversary Party. We had a lot of fun with this theme. First I had to figure out who to be (yes, we were all encouraged to come in full costume!) So I googled it and found this really cool quiz. Now I already had an idea who I wanted to be, but the quiz absolutely nailed it and YES I would be Paris Carver that night! Paris was the wife of the evil Media Mogul in Tomorrow Never Dies. But she had also been Mr. Bond’s lover (but then who hadn’t?). JT decided to be Francisco Scaramanga from the Man with the Golden Gun and he did a great job in fashioning a rather authentic looking golden gun. It was a dinner party hosted by M and Mr. James Bond and thank you Donald “Red” Grant for the fabulous photography and Q for keeping the hors d’œuvres constantly coming. It was a very tasty evening.

The Menu:

Drunken Devils on Horseback (Nigella Lawson)
Minted Zucchini Soup (Jamie Oliver)
Arugula and Watercress Salad (inspired by a Williams Sonoma recipe)
Beefsteak and Mushroom Pie with Smashed Potatoes and Yorkshire Puddings
(stew modified version of a John Cordeaux/Royal York recip /puddings – Good Housekeeping circa 1980s)
Sticky Toffee Pudding (old recipe from a friend)
Libations:
  Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2012
  Thwaites Lancaster Bomber Ale (winner of the Best English Ale at the European Beer Star Awards)
  Chateau Timberlay Bordeau Superieur 2010
  Pere et Fils Chardonnay Laurent Miquel 2012
  Assorted Liqueurs/Port/Single Malt Scotch

The Cast:

James Bond M

Our generous hosts M and Mr. James Bond (complete with English accent)

Table
The table was beautifully set and we each had a “Classified Dossier” in front of our seats.
Donald Red Grant Q

Donald “Red” Grant and Q (who had a few tricks up his sleeve!)

TheDetails

It’s all in the details. Yes, those are bullets in the vase.

Dr.No HoneyRyder

Dr. Julius No & Honey Ryder
(they bought their costumes in Hong Kong on a recent trip to celebrate a benchmark birthday).

ErnestStavroBlofeld Jinx

Ernst Stavro Blofeld & Jinx.
Ernst was sufficiently creepy with his bunny (remember it was originally a creepy cat)

Auric Goldfinger and Pussy Galore

Auric Goldfinger and Pussy Galore

ScaramangaParisCarver

Francisco Scaramanga and Paris Carver
(Apparently Paris always had a champagne glass in hand, which I was perfectly happy to do!)

To give you an example of how much detail my friend M went into this is my Classified Bio, for your eyes only!

PARIS CARVER

Terri Hatcher Eva Taylor

Location: Hamburg, Germany.

Characteristics: Sophisticated, cosmopolitan, unhappy, pining for Bond.

Hobbies/Interests: James Bond. Sipping her husband’s (British media baron Elliot Carver) champagne. Prior to that drank straight shots of tequila. Lying to her husband about her relationship with Bond.

Associations: No known associations.

Scars/Notable Features: Possible scarring on hand from slapping Bond for abandoning her years earlier. Often carrying champagne flute.

Relationship with MI6: Described as “too close for comfort” by Bond. After spending a passionate evening together, Carver led Bond to her husband’s secret lab.

Status: Presumed assassinated by hitman Dr. Kaufman after her husband learned of her betrayal. Most recently spotted sipping champagne in Toronto, New York, Chicago, and Paris.

Dinner1
We were all quite taken back with the amount of detail in each of our dossiers.
Dinner2

There were detailed character descriptions in each folder.

Francisco Scaramanga

We took a couple of photos at home before we left.

ParisCarver

Can you believe it, I picked up my dress from Value Village and made a few alterations. Damn thing left sparkles all over the house!

Thanks again to M and Mr. James Bond for making such a memorable evening.

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In October we were invited to another theme dinner party: Truman Capote’s Black and White Masquerade Ball, the party of the century! We were asked to dress in black and white and wear with a mask, which worked out perfectly since Halloween was just around the corner!

Our lovely hostess made this beautiful little booklet for the evening. The menu was pulled from Capote’s favourites, Basil Chicken Hash and served similar to the style of the time. We all had a blast! Mind you, I think we lasted about 10 minutes wearing the masks! Sadly, I didn’t get any pics of JT and I. Nor did I shoot the hash…but rest assured, it was AMAZING. The basil infused the chicken and although there is nothing Thai about it, it had a slight Thai flavouring to me. This will definitely go into our steady repertoire, such a flavourful and easy dish.

My friend chose Ina Garten’s recipe which turns out to be healthier than the real deal, believe it or not; Ina uses an extra pot to sauté the peppers, but I wanted to make it much simpler and modified the recipe accordingly.

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Our lovely hosts also gave us a bit of a teaser for the next themed dinner party in the Springtime…it will be Bond 007! What fun! Now, tell me which Bond girl should I be?

Basil Chicken Hash

Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa on Food Network

Serves 4, 100 g chicken per serving

Ingredients:

  • 1 or 2 chicken breasts, bone-in, skin removed (400 g)
  • 5 stalks of fresh basil leaves
  • dash of EVOO
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 small boiling potato, peeled and large diced
  • 1 red onion, chopped in large quarters
  • 1 red bell pepper, large diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 minced scallions, white and green parts
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh leaf parsley
  • dash of vegetable or chicken stock
  • Sea salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Spray the baking sheet with non-stick spray and lay two stalks of the basil leaves down (I was lucky, I used what was left from the garden).
  3. Place the chicken breasts on top of the basil, bone side down. Lightly rub each chicken piece with EVOO and sprinkle with salt. Put two more basil stalks on top of the chicken and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and cut the chicken in large dice pieces and set aside.
  4. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large sauté pan and add the potatoes and onions, salt and saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until evenly browned and cooked through. I added a dash of stock at this point. Add the peppers, garlic, thyme, paprika and tomato paste and mix well. Add the chicken and another dash of stock and place into the oven to finish for about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Garnish with the remaining torn basil leaves, minced scallions and chopped fresh parsley, toss together and place on a serving platter. Serve over greens (I only had one smallish potato but if you use the recipe as is, you will not need a side with it).

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The dinner party was an enormous success, THANK YOU Angela, Gordon and the Stewards, Evan and David. It went off without a hitch (not that we could see anyway, and that is what counts!). The boys did an amazing job with serving and cleaning up the table. Conversation was lively and we all had a great time!

The food was great and we couldn’t stop from finishing everything on our plates. My contribution of three (for recipes click here, here and here) of the ten courses were also well received. The table was beautifully set with the hand made branded napkins, the branded chargers and Angela’s wedding china and Silverware. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I certainly felt like I was on an opulent vessel being served a Michelin Five-Star meal! And we didn’t sink, which was a real bonus.

We dined for 5 hours, enjoying every last morsel and libation. The party went on until one o’clock in the morning, at which time, we thanked our hosts and drove silently home, pondering the forthcoming events of that fateful evening one hundred years ago.

Here is a quick recap of the evening, and that is likely the last you’ll have to endure Titanic mania at least until next year (there is talk to have this event yearly! ;-))

A quick recap of the invitations.

It looks real, doesn’t it?

I blurred out the names for privacy reasons!

I suppose this was directed toward the Gentlemen, as the Ladies were likely not invited into the casino!

I created memento booklets for the event. It had our menu, the guest list and some titillating trivia about the grand vessel.

Here is the entire booklet: MomentoBooklet_BlogNew

The welcome flags of the Titanic First Class Passengers

Our charming and generous hosts

Our fastidious Stewards, Evan and David, who kept the dinner moving efficiently and gracefully

The setting: First Class Dining Room

Hand made Napkin by Angela

The Cast of ladies (from left to right): Denise, Éva, Renata, Angela and Ginger

The cast of gentlemen (from left to right): Eric, Gordon, Richard, Philip and John

The party was certainly a hit!

Please ask for permission if you wish to download any of these photos as not all of them belong to me!

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