Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hunting, Super Bowl part of party season
I’ve never been hunting, but I’d consider it if it was the kind of party I recently read about. And I love a good party even if its made up of buds sitting on coolers in the garage. But if someone invited me to a blini bar, I’d be there with bells on. Two books help readers put on some memorable parties suitable for the holidays and beyond. Here are some of the authors’ ideas:

Hot and hot
Memory cuisine is serious stuff for authors of the “Hot and Hot Fish Club.” I love how they recall a pivotal evening: “It was autumn, and fresh porcinis were abundant at the farmer’s market, along with a colorful array of root vegetables.” Chris and Idie Hastings developed the restaurant of the same name as their new book in Birmingham, Alabama. I’ll leave you to discover the name’s Civil War-era meaning, but I’ll share that a Blonde Mary is their drink with yellow tomatoes and a BLT soft shell crab is something I aspire to consume in my lifetime. They get all Southern with shrimp and grits and lots of new ways to enjoy okra. I love the story of a woodcock hunting trip where hunters were awakened to a choir singing “Bonny Blue Flag.” Here’s their after-the-hunt refreshment:
Bog Sucker
3 cups gin
1/2 cup dry sherry
5 green olives, each skewered with a hawthorn or toothpick for garnish.
Combine the gin and sherry in a Mason jar and freeze until well-chilled, at least 4 hours. Pour the chilled liquor into five old fashioned glasses filled with ice and garnish each with an olive-skewered hawthorn. Sere immediately.

That’s Entertainment
How about a blini bar for a Russian cocktail party or dumpling and spring roll stalls to represent an Asian street market? Just how in-depth is your party planning? If you want to travel beyond cheese dip and chips, curl up with Denise Vivaldo’s “The Entertaining Encyclopedia.” She covers it all from invites to thank-you notes and includes tons of recipes to boot. Favor ideas include: potpourri bags for a ladies’ night out theme; potted herbs that serve as centerpiece; orchid corsages for Mother’s Day; and charms and note cards for a book club gathering. She also covers topics like linens, glassware and how much food to order. Here’s just a simple offering from the gourmet book that ought to fit right into a New Year’s even a Super Bowl party:

Hot Mustard Dipping Sauce
(For ginger shrimp pot stickers)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1teaspoons hot pepper sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, sour cream, soy sauce and hot pepper sauce until smooth. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

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