Monday, January 01, 2007

A Bridal Shower

Weddings are my favorite kind of party. The romantic ambiance, the warmth of relatives you haven't seen in ages, the boisterous children, the flowers, the food, new friends made, the celebration of an important step towards disaster (just kidding!). Whatever happens afterwards, the wedding celebration is one to remember forever. I for one remember my wedding reception of 300 guests. Whether this number seems small or big to you, the party was an intimate one of close friends and family. I have to say it was the best party I ever attended.

My second to the youngest cousin, the only male in our brood of cousins, is about to be married to a sweet and lovely girl. To start of our cousin-in-law relations well, my cousins and I gave her a bridal shower. I was quite surprised when the-bride-to-be called to ask if she could invite ten of her friends! After the initial confusion among the cousins (we had planned a small party), we decided it was a good way to meet her friends before the wedding and told her it would be our pleasure to host them. There were fifteen of us in all, a mix of relatives and friends on both sides. Not all of us made it however, one cousin was stuck abroad because of a legal matters concerning her business, another cousin had to stay home because of pregnancy symptoms. Despite these set backs we went through with the shower and made the best of it. The Cava was flowing, the food delicious and the guests were interesting. The shower's theme is Books, so my cousins and I gave her a gift of three cookbooks which I think will help start her out in becoming a good home cook.

  1. Cook with Jamie by Jamie Oliver
  2. Ken Holm's Top 100 Stir-Fry Recipes by Ken Holm
  3. 365 Ways to Cook Chicken by Cheryl Sedaker

I made a buffet of cocktail food and two substantial dishes since the party will lapse into dinner time. Lots of cocktail drinks all around and the Christmas decor gave of a festive ambiance to the shower.

Berry Iced Tea

Frozen Margarita


assorted bread

Caramelized Onion Dip with Vegetable Crudites

Pithale (Indian Dip)

Egg & Nori Finger Sandwiches

Bisteeya (Moroccan Chicken Pie)

Vegetarian Burritos

Baked Brie with Dried Fruit & Nuts

Burnt Butter Cupcakes with Sugar Frosting

Egg & Nori Sandwiches
Nori sheets are sheets of seaweed used in Japanese sashimi. You can buy the shredded variety in any Japanese grocery, or use sheets.

hard-boiled eggs, sliced
Japanese mayonnaise
shredded nori
white sandwich bread, crusts removed

Spread a thin layer of mayo on one side of all the pieces of bread. Place a layer of the sliced egg on a slice of bread, top with nori and sandwich with another slice of bread. Cut sandwich in half to make finger sandwiches.

Baked Brie with Dried Fruits & Nuts

1 round of Brie or Camembert
apricots, diced
muscovado or brown sugar

Toss the dried fruit in a bowl then mound on top of cheese round. sprinkle tops with brown sugar. Bake in 350 F oven until sugar caramelizes, about 10-15 minutes. Serve with French bread or crackers.

Burnt-Butter Brown Sugar Cupcakes
from The Domestic Goddess

These cupcakes are unbelievable good. This is the third recipe from Nigella Lawson's bake book that I've tried and all were incredibly successful. Another keeper.

12 bun muffin tray lined with muffin papers

for the cupcakes:
150g butter
125g self-raising flour
60g golden caster sugar
65g light brown sugar (or muscovado)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons milk

for the icing:
150g butter
250-300g golden icing sugar, sieved
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 200c and start burning the butter. Put butter in a small saucepan on medium heat, stirring all the time until it turns a dark golden colour. Take the pan off the heat and pour the butter into a bowl or cup. In other words, this is like clarified butter, but with a smoky note. Let the butter solidify again, so it remains soft for the cupcakes (although the book says not to refrigerate, I did or I would have been waiting for days for the butter to solidify, stir well to soften before adding to the rest of the ingredients).

When the butter is solid, but still soft, put all the cake ingredients except the milk in a food processor and blitz to a smooth batter. As normal, add the milk down the funnel, pulsing sparingly to form a soft, dropping mixture.

Divide between the paper cases, and cook for 15-20 minutes. While the cupcakes are baking, get on with the icing. It's the same procedure for the butter - burn, sieve, solidify - then beat it with half the sieved sugar or enough to make it stiff. Add tablespoons of the milk and the remaining sugar alternately to reach a good consistency, and finally the vanilla.

While the icing's still soft, smear messily over the cooled and waiting cupcakes.