Monday, April 16, 2012

Party Planning: Untraditional Wedding

So Brilliant Daughter has friends who underwent an amalgamation (euphemism for wedding) last weekend. In a very non-traditional gathering, family came to town for what was ostensibly an engagement party. They holed up at the gorgeous CordeValle Country Club in San Martin, and the blended families spent two days enjoying a slew of events. From a hands-on dinner party with a local chef to a morning sojourn to Point Lobos, the beautiful couple capped off their time together with what they called a “ceremonial amalgamation.”

Because the wedding was to be a surprise for their families, and due to work constraints, Brilliant Daughter and I pitched in to help make the weekend less stressful, by preparing food and the welcome packet. (See this post on Crafting Suburbia for the printed welcome packets.)

Saturday, the official amalgamation day, started off with a drive to Point Lobos on the California Coast. There was a hike in to a knoll at Whaler’s Cove, where all enjoyed a picnic lunch—which is where we came in. Given that there are 18 people, and we needed to keep things to 3 backpacks, we tried to think creatively. We packaged bags of trail mix for the walk itself, and Parisian walking sandwiches, gazpacho, and mini fruit crisps baked into 4-ounce canning jars and topped with an oatmeal mixture.

Once the families returned to CordeValle, and after a brief respite, they made their way up a short trail to a yoga deck overlooking the foothills and the golf course; a beautiful outdoor setting that seemed perfect for this active couple. Amongst loved ones, and with the help of a minister-friend, they officially joined their families with personalized vows and a kiss to seal the deal.

Upon returning to their luxurious fairway homes, they celebrated with champagne and chocolate truffles. (In lieu of a traditional wedding cake, we made champagne truffles, boxed up in pairs of two, and wrapped in special Just Married bands, found at the most adorable store in the Cedros Avenue Design District in Solano Beach.)

To get ready for the event, the last week has been spent in the kitchen preparing all the yummy goods. I started on Tuesday, mixing and packaging the trail mix. Eighteen clear bags, tied with twine and a personalized label. Walnuts, sunflower seeds, cashews, coconut and dried fruit should sustain the families during their hike.

Wednesday I made the batch of dark chocolate champagne truffles, which are rolled in cocoa powder, nestled into purple paper cups and placed side by side into ballotins. A purple ribbon overlaid with the Just Married bands (originally intended to make a daisy chain) enclosed the sweet treats and keep them safe. 

I also decided to provide a bonus treat for arrival day. Using my nanny’s shortbread recipe, I zested and juiced two of my Meyer lemons to add in, and rolled the dough out. Cut into various sized heart shapes, some with a cushion design, they are simple and tasty—perfect for a cup of tea, a cappuccino from the couples’ famed “Miss Sylvia,” or even a glass of wine.

Thursday was spent making gazpacho. This is a fresh and lively soup, full of multiple types of vegetables and healthy ingredients, and makes a great picnic item. We had originally intended for the gazpacho to be put in 8-ounce canning jars, but felt that 18 canning jars in a backpack was an accident waiting to happen. Instead, we poured the soup into a large-mouth plastic container with screw top, and provided plastic cups. Lighter in weight and less bulky.

Friday morning was the last push. Bringing home fresh baguettes from our favorite bakery, Pamplamousse, I assembled Parisian walking sandwiches. Fresh mozzarella and pesto (some with prosciutto, some with homemade sundried tomatoes) and dry coppa with Emmenthaler. Bound in parchment, we slipped them into plastic sleeves, twisted the top close and sealed with twine and label. 

The fruit crisps also got made. Pear/blueberry (with a touch of crystallized ginger) and apple/dried cranberry, topped with a cinnamon-cardamom infused oatmeal mixture and cooked in 4-ounce canning jars, which were sealed and got the same twine/label treatment.

Both Brilliant Daughter and I were honored and grateful that we could help make this special family weekend a little easier on our friends. It gave me a chance to keep busy, test some new recipes, and let the creative juices flow a little bit. We wish them nothing but the best in life and love.

Recipes on Page 2

3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 large cucumber, diced
2 zucchini, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
6 plum tomatoes, diced
64 ounces tomato (or V8) juice
¼ cup olive oil
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1 teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper, to taste

In the bowl of the food processor, place garlic, and half of the onion, cucumber, zucchini, celery and bell pepper. Add 2 cups tomato juice and process. Pour into a bowl.
Place the tomatoes and another 2 cups of tomato juice, along with oil, vinegar, sugar, Tabasco, salt and pepper in the processor and blend to puree.  Pour into the bowl.
Add the remaining diced vegetables and stir. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.
This is best served cold and after being allowed to meld for at least several hours, if not overnight, to allow the flavors to develop.

Champagne Truffles
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Champagne
12 tablespoons Cognac
Cocoa powder, for rolling
Place coarsely chopped chocolate in medium-sized bowl.
Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Immediately pour over the chocolate. Stir until smooth and no chocolate lumps remain. Add in the Champagne and Cognac, stirring to fully incorporate. Refrigerate until chocolate mixture is firm enough to roll into balls, about 1 hour.
Using a melon baller or small ice-cream scoop, form 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in coarse sanding sugar, and transfer to rimmed baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate truffles at least 30 minutes or up to 7 days before serving.

Apple Crisp in Jars
4 large apples (I used Fujui)
½ cup dried cranberries
zest and juice of 1 lemon
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
dash of allspice
dash of cardamom

Topping Mixture
1¼ cups quick oats
1¼ cups packed light brown sugar
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
scant ½ tsp. baking powder
scant ½ tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
½ cup butter, cut into small pieces

Heat oven to 350 degrees and place 16 four-ounce canning jars* on a cookie sheet.

Start by making the topping mixture. In a medium bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix thoroughly. Add in butter and combine with your hands until thoroughly combines. You will see some lumps, but make sure they are not pure butter. Set aside.

Peel apples and dice into very small cubes (a bit smaller than ½”). Mix all ingredients in large bowl thoroughly.

Spoon mixture into canning jars, pushing down to help fill any air spaces. Leave about ½’inch headspace for the topping. Scoop topping onto the fruit so that it is slightly mounded above the rim. (Fruit will settle during the cooking process.)

Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until apples are tender and topping is lightly browned.

*Due the varying size of apples, you may fill anywhere from 12-16 jars.

NOTE: Any remaining crisp topping mixture can be put in a freezer Ziploc and stored to make individual crisps at your leisure.

1 comment:

sajib said...

Fantastic items of food. Really they are very very rich as well as delicious.