July 01, 2008

brunch

We've had house guests since June 24 so I haven't had time to focus on the blog. One guest, my brother, has left, but the others will be here until July 5. My oldest son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter are here for nine days. How will I manage when they leave? On Sunday, we had about 40 guests at a brunch in their honor, and since I cooked food mainly from this blog and a couple of others, I thought I'd describe what we served.

Actually, my plan was to photograph the table just before the guests arrived. The camera was out and ready but somehow, people were here and socializing and eating and the whole thing was over before I remembered about the pictures. So I can only describe what we had - and how long it took to make it, and post a picture of the table AFTER the event was over. This is a blog about easy cooking, so it was kind of a test to see just how easy it was. You know that preparing food for a party takes time, and when you have house guests and one of them is four months old, it's not easy to cook for an additional 35 people! We used a combination of store-bought and homemade dishes, and three friends brought food, because I possess the gene that causes me to believe there won't be enough. Duh. (Of course there was way too much, but this meant we could take it easy and not have to cook much the next day.)

First, the purchased food. We ordered five varieties of bagels from Gotham Bagel, a real New York bagel shop here in the Midwest. They also make amazing tofu cream cheese in THREE varieties so we got that, too. I had a plate of cucumber and tomato slices and small bowls of olives, muffaletto, raw cashews, grape tomatoes, kumquats, wasabi roasted almonds and who knows what else. I assembled a large platter of hummus, tabouli, bean salad and dolmas from Trader Joe's, accompanied by raw carrots and cucumbers, a basket of mini-pita bread and two kinds of crackers. Judy brought sweet potato salad and strawberries and Claire brought a mock tuna salad made from soaked sunflower seeds and cashews.

The day before the party, we did some baking. I made lemon syrup soaked hazelnut cake (substituting Brazil nuts), carrot bread and ginger bars and my husband made oatmeal chocolate chip and chewy chocolate chocolate chip cookies. (The chocolate chocolates were the hit of the dessert table) My friend Ann brought brownies. I also made sweet and tart carrots and marinated them overnight. In the middle of all this baking, we went on a garden tour.

I hit the kitchen at 6 a.m. the day of the brunch and started cooking. I was very organized and had a list of what to do and a pile of recipes. The only slowdown was that the refrigerator was so packed I couldn't find any of the ingredients. What with one eggplant up here and another down there, I had to keep calling my husband to find the things he had stuffed in. First I made tourlou tourlou from Mama's Taverna. I made so much - nearly a double recipe in two enameled cast iron pans - that I thought we'd be eating it all week, but that didn't happen. It was so popular that most of it disappeared. I made it with half the oil from the recipe and it still turned out great. (When I make it again for just us, I'll probably reduce the oil by half again.) I also made yummy Greek cabbage salad from the same blog.

Next I made bread pudding from Veganomicon, substituting frozen blueberries for the chocolate chips. My daughter-in-law said it tasted like french toast only better. (The blueberry idea came from Diet Dessert and Dogs.) Then, I threw together a pot of Nava Atlas' amazing coconut corn soup. (I had also cooked a bunch of chick peas the day before with the intention of making Norman's chick pea snack, but when I saw how much food there was, I decided to save them for another day.) My husband put together a fresh fruit salad. By 9:30 a.m. I was finished cooking. By 10 a.m. I had assembled the middle-eastern platter, filled the various bowls and was ready to relax until the guests arrived at 11. Now I'll have to do it all again so I can photograph it! (insert smiley face here...)

7 comments:

  1. What a super feast for your lucky guests! And what a lot of cooking you did!

    I'm so glad my recipes for tourlou tourlou and cabbage salad were enjoyed. Of course, they're not my recipes, they're traditional Greek standards, so I have to take zero credit for them.

    A great thing about Greek cuisine is that most vegetarian dishes are automatically vegan. This makes it very easy to feed people great food without worrying about who's vegan and who's not.

    Anyway, good job feeding people!

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  2. Sounds like a great time--all that food, and everything so delicious! Glad the french toast worked out w/ the blueberries, too (and I'm off to copy that recipe for the roasted veggies!).

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  3. And everything was sooooo delicious!!! What an adorable photo of baby and grandfather.....

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  4. Lulu, they may be traditional recipes, but you did take the time to write them down and share them, so a big thank you. And I played a bit with the vegetable proportions - also a traditional use of such recipes, right? I've always wanted to go to Greece!

    Thanks for your comments, Ricki. I know you'll like the veggies.

    Thanks, Claire. I loved having you there!

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  5. Yes, Andrea, it's totally traditional to vary the veggie amounts. My guess is that the most historically authentic recipes would say something like, "Take whatever veggies you have in your garden right now and..."

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  6. You are my hero! I don't know if I could ever muster up the skill and the perseverance to bake all morning (especially starting at 6 a.m...sheesh!) with the pressure of pleasing 40 guests. Well done!

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  7. m.a.u.I was a little intimidated at the prospect, but the guests were invited so what could I do? I'm just glad it all turned out well. Whew.

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