Thursday, September 24, 2009

Engagement Party Menu

We hosted an engagement party for close friends of our on Saturday. It was a cocktail party for nine. Over the coming days, I’ll describe different elements of the party, but first, let’s talk about the food. That’s always what everyone is most interested in anyway.

At cocktail parties it’s just as important as at a dinner party to think about in your food. You want to serve hot things and cold things, rich things and light things, meat and vegetarian options. While it’s important to balance flavors and textures, you need to keep in mind that the more colorful the food is, the more appetizing it will appear.


Kefta meatballs with tzaziki
Chicken satay with peanut sauce
Hummus with vegetables and pita
Crab salad on cucumber rounds
Cheese plate with grapes & raspberries

Kefta is a Moroccan kabob dish. I switched things up a little bit by serving it as meatballs instead of on skewers and by making it out of ground beef instead of ground lamb. Both of these changes made my life easier and none of my guests were Moroccan, so they never knew the difference.

I served green bell pepper strips, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, and pita triangles with a good quality store-bought hummus, again because it makes my life easier and cost about the same. I think the reason most people don’t have more parties is because they find it stressful. It’s stressful to try and do too much. My guests don’t have a better time if I make everything from scratch but am harried by the time they arrive. If I’m calm and relaxed and ready to have a good time, then that energy is going to translate to my guests and they’re going to have a good time too.

For cheese trays, The Joy of Cooking recommends one fresh goat cheese, one soft fermented cheese, one blue-veined cheese, and one firm cheese. Again, we bent the rules to fit our own tastes. We lost the blue cheese simply because I don’t like it and added another firm cheese in its place. We served a plain goat cheese, Camembert, an Irish Cheddar and a finally a smoked Gouda. We chose the latter because it’s my husband’s favorite and the flavor profile is so different from Cheddar, even though they’re both firm cheeses.

The cake was a brown butter cake doused with rum and a creamy caramel buttercream. We chose it because the couple had vacationed in Puerto Rico. We bought the cake from the woman who made our wedding cake. (If you live in the DC metro area and you need a cake, email me because seriously, she makes the best cakes and her prices are really reasonable.) It was actually more work to buy the cake in this instance rather than make it ourselves because we had to go pick it up from about 45 minutes away. We thought it was worth the time and expense though because we wanted to make the cake a centerpiece. The engaged couple just bought their first home in Florida and are getting married on the beach there, so she made the cake in a cute beach theme. (The picture doesn’t do it justice.)
All in all, I think the party was a success. People stayed late and ate a lot, and that's how I measure success.

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