Two Dinner Parties: A Birthday & A Brigade

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Well, let’s start with saying how much I’ve missed you guys. A LOT. I have been MIA for about two weeks and the reason for it is this post’s title. I have hosted a dinner party and cooked for a friend’s birthday dinner with her family. Two weeks, two cakes, two night’s of laughs. Sadly with work and the parties I didn’t have time to cook for the blog. This weekend I miraculously have a three-day weekend, and I’m going to the Cape. Which means I won’t have time to cook for the blog this week either. I am so excited to eat and relax. The beach is so euphoric for me. I have been one with the ocean since I can remember. I have been craving the feeling of my feet in wet sand, to sit quietly on the beach, to swim out so far and just be. I’m sad to not be cooking but I’m so happy to actually get to get away from work and normal life. I strongly believe the only place anyone should live in the summer is a beach house walking distance from a body of water. The air is different by the ocean, especially in Cape Cod. It makes my heart very happy. Almost as happy as cooking…

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The first friday my oldest friend in the world, Marianna, had a birthday. We grew up next door to each other as little girl’s and have always stayed in each other’s lives. We recently have been making more of an effort to see each other, and I wish we did it sooner because now I’ll be moving. I jumped at the chance to cook her a dinner, especially for her family, and especially for her birthday. Her house always felt like home to me. Her family as well. Getting older makes you realize how precious youth is and how special your childhood really was. When I see Marianna and her sisters, I feel 10 years old; sipping lemonade on the porch swing; begging our moms for a sleepover in exchange for brownies. My guidelines were simple, basically only one: chocolate cake. I decided on a roasted vegetable pasta with caramelized garlic & my chicken breast with salsa verde for dinner. Both very easy for a big group, and easy to do prep work before I headed over to cook. I knew the cake I was going to make. You guys can probably guess, it’s from Food52. When I first found the site I spent hours looking at recipes I wanted to make. One of them always caught my eye. A rich double layered chocolate cake, the center was sour cherry jam and the whole thing was covered in chocolate ganache. Boy did it glisten. I mentioned it to Marianna, she was beyond in for this cake. I was too. I didn’t have time to make the jam so I ordered some online. The cake turned out to be my favorite thing to make that day. Frosted and set atop my white cake stand to cool by the AC until the party. I roasted all the vegetables, caramelized the garlic and made the salsa verde before I went. I packed whatever else I would need. As I was getting ready to head over, I grabbed the cake. I held the stand with one hand, way too cocky. My confidence fell at the same moment the cake did–on to my kitchen floor. It was on a piece of cardboard I frosted it on and it managed to flip completely upside down. For a moment, I did nothing but laugh. I have a bad track record moving cakes. When I was in California for my birthday in December we had just stopped at Magnolia Bakery in LA to get my favorite cake they make; A Vanilla Icebox Cake. On the cake I had them write “I’m feeling 82” as a play on that Taylor Swift song and because I’m a very old woman internally. We put it in the back seat on ice to transport it almost two hours away to San Diego. Not buckled in. You can guess what happened. It flipped over onto the floor about 5 minutes after we picked it up. It was a garbage cake. We ate it throughout the weekend without plates, out of our hotel fridge, like animals. But, back to the cake on the kitchen floor. It fell and I ran to grab a long knife and I sliced the top layer in half and threw away the top of it. I flipped it over so the cherry center was exposed on top, because sadly I had no ganache left. Lucky for me the cake was so good it didn’t matter. The dinner went great. Her sisters helped me cook, we laughed and we talked about old times. It was a perfect.

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The second friday was this past week. I previously told you guys how I was a winner of the first Food52 Brigade contest. They sent me a little package with a few things to use on my table. They sent me a handblown glass drink pitcher, eight seersucker napkins, and oyster salt cellars. They were all beautiful and it was so special to open. Along with the goodies they sent little booklets that gave tips and tricks to host a party. I loved it all. It was my excuse to have a late June dinner party. I wanted this to be an indoor summer BBQ. Mainly because I don’t have an actual outdoor grill or picnic table and also because I’m very fond of my AC. I knew I wanted to have tacos in some capacity. I decided on serving all Food52 recipes because of them basically inspiring me to have this party. I served braised short rib tacos with a plate of toppings and cheeses. I love any party where you have an excuse to customize your own thing. I also served potato salad, mexican street corn and fresh strips of pineapple. I decided the drink would be a fresh watermelonade. I froze long pieces of watermelon to be like an ice-cube garnish in the glasses. The night was capped off with a three layer strawberry shortcake. We were all stuffed. We played cards against humanity and laughed a lot. Nothing better than a lot of laughs and a lot of food.

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One thought on “Two Dinner Parties: A Birthday & A Brigade

  1. So delicious! Love the pictures and the posts. Love following you, any lover of food should eventually catch up to your web page. Do you have a book coming out soon with pictures?
    Lisa C.

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