Category Cookbook Club

Parties That Cook Holiday Season Recap: December 2010

Hello again, my long lost friends!

I realize it has been a couple of weeks that our blog posts have been MIA, but I promise it was for a good reason! We’ve been busy incorporating feedback, perfecting our events, and putting fail-proof systems in place in anticipation for the madness of the holiday season. Here at Parties That Cook, the final few weeks leading up to Christmas are easily the busiest (and craziest) of the year! With some days packed with as many as 10 events, much preparation is needed to ensure smooth sailing. On the busiest of days, it is truly amazing to see all the moving parts that go into pulling off a successful event working together!

Aside from all our events in the field, the PTC office staff was busy in the kitchen! This December we squeezed in a cookie exchange AND a cookbook club meeting! As expected, there wasn’t a cookie I didn’t like. A self-proclaimed cookie fiend, I was surprised to find myself all cookied out by the end of the day. In my defense, after trading for over 3 dozen cookies, who wouldn’t be? Details on the cookies made for the exchange coming soon!

The featured cookbook for December’s cookbook club was Tyler Florence Family Meal. The recipes made for a diverse and delicious meal! There was an abundance of food, and no clear choice for a group favorite –trust me, that’s a good thing. The dish on the evening’s dishes as well as the Parties That Cook Holiday White Elephant Gift Exchange Bonanza –or as it’s fondly referred to: the PTCHWEGEB –coming soon as well!

We REALLY appreciate our clients and vendors who have helped make this a busy and fruitful December. And we are SO grateful for all our wonderful chefs, servers and dishwashers who worked so hard to make each and every event a success! Happy Holidays from the Parties That Cook Team –but don’t worry, there will be another blog this week…

September Cookbook Club: A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes

Yesterday I had the pleasure of experiencing my first Parties That Cook Cookbook Club. In case you are not familiar with the format of a cookbook club, as I wasn’t until recently, participants each pick and execute a recipe from a particular cookbook. Sounds easy enough, right?

As the lunch hour approaches, one can feel the tension building. Those with dishes to submit add the final touches to their item or items, and begin the plating process. In the few minutes before lunch, the office kitchen hosts a whirlwind of activity. The kitchen becomes the place where everyone congregates at a party.

The purpose of our cookbook club, aside from a great excuse to sit and chat and EAT together, is to ultimately evaluate the featured cookbook. Up for dissection this month: David Tanis’ A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes. Tanis is the current co-chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., where he has been a fixture on and off since the 1980s. Tanis is also well known for the private dining club he hosts in Paris.

Green Chili Stew: Beth started us off with a delicious labor of love. She definitely picked a challenging recipe, and I loved it! She found herself a little frustrated by the lack of instruction, or even instructions like, “Fiddle with it”. This was the first hint that A Platter of Figs may be written for your not-so-average cook. Beth ultimately decided to deviate from the recipe, which she felt did not allow for the fat to burn off.

Corn, Squash, and Beans with Jalapeno Butter:
Tanis’ recipes are categorized by season, which is a great thing to keep in mind when trying to decide on a recipe! Rosie’s dish fell in the category of summer foods, and called for fresh vegetables. Luckily, she was able to find her favorite veggies at a local farmer’s market. The jalapeno butter was a nice touch, and not at all overwhelming. Rosie was able to stick to the recipe. Unfortunately, a lack of information on the number of servings produced led her to make a dish that could feed an army!

Provencal Toasts with Olive Tapenade, Grilled Eggplant Paste, and Spicy Walnut Paste: Crissy’s execution of each of these spreads was great! She could not find the specific olive called for in the recipe, though substituting a different type of olive did not compromise the quality. Everyone loved them! The recipe noted that the pastes were meant to be thin, so even a small amount packed a punch. Again, problems arose with lack of details and yields. Because the Eggplant Paste recipe gave no size specification, Crissy ended up with SO much more than the other two pastes.

Chicken Tagine with Pumpkin, Chickpeas, and Harissa Oil: Bibby did an excellent job interpreting this dish -a definite contender for the group’s favorite! Using her chef’s eye, she was moved to deviate from the recipe, which didn’t call for searing the chicken. Also, despite halving the recipe, these was such an abundance of this dish! No complaints here, as the chickpeas and chicken were nicely complemented by the Harissa Oil. Strangely, there was no suggestion for what to serve this dish with, though the consensus was that it would be great over rice.

Lavender Honey Ice Cream: Carolyn took the coveted position of ice cream maker extraordinaire, and this dish was delicious! She was commended for her use of lavender, which can easily be overdone and made to taste like soap! Though this recipe calls for 5 egg yolks, Carolyn used 2 eggs, and the result was an incredibly rich and creamy dessert. I’m sure the remaining ice cream in the office freezer will be my downfall.

Peaches in Wine: Much to everyone’s surprise, two people chose to bring in this dish! Great minds must think alike. This dish was low-maintanence, simply calling for raw peaches soaked in wine for “several hours”. Open to interpretation, Michelene made her dish the night before, while Susanne made hers the morning of. I don’t think anybody could tell the difference in timing, though there were opposite preferenes for wine choice and peach flavor.

A Platter of Figs offers some amazing recipes. These delicious dishes are probably best suited for individuals who do not need to follow recipes down to a tee, and are okay wingin’ it in some cases. If all of our cookbook clubs result in meals as delicious as this one, I have no problem being a Parties That Cook guinea pig in the future! All in all, it was a wonderful day had by all.