Tag kale salad

July 2013 Cookbook Club: A Summer of Salads

There is never a boring day in the PTC office. We once spent an entire week debating which cookbook to feature in our next cookbook club. Emails zinged back and forth before Christina had a brilliant idea. Everyone was asked to bring in their favorite summer dish. (The perfect theme for this girl!) Earlier that week, I visited B Patisserie in the Pacific Heights neighborhood. I was thrilled to discover a variation of  Flammkuchen, a delicious German “pizza”, on their menu. B’s substituted toasted ciabatta for pizza dough, and I was enamored with the extra chewy texture.

I knew what I was going to make for cookbook club!

Coming into the office on the day-of, the refrigerator was packed with various containers of this and that. I barely found room for my own shopping bag of ingredients. At about 11:30am, we trickled into the kitchen and started the prep-work for our dishes. We were soon peeking over each other’s shoulders and discussing the best way to plate. As completed dishes began appearing on the table, I pulled out my camera and started playing food paparazzi.

Kale Salad First up: Heather made an INCREDIBLE Kale Chopped Salad with a pleasant Spicy Peanut Dressing. I was a big fan of this tangy take on kale. Kale has a pretty distinct flavor, so the peanut dressing really added an unexpected depth. Needless to say, this was well received by all in the office.

Cabbage SaladAlso on a summer salad bend, Erica, our warehouse manager, made a delicious Cabbage Salad with Avocado and Jalapeno. I simply could NOT get enough of this. In fact, I copied the recipe and stopped by the grocery store on my way home so I could keep some in my fridge!

Tomato SaladMary surprised us with a gorgeous old fashioned Heirloom Tomato Salad from Frank Stitt’s Southern Table. I loved these tomatoes. With much more complex flavors than tomatoes you find in the grocery store, I was immediately transplanted to my favorite farmer’s market.

Mango SalsaEmily reminded me how refreshing a great Mango Salsa can be. Tangy and spicy, like a salsa should be, but with a sweetness that added even more depth to the flavor. I loved her mango-to-jalapeno ratio.

Tomato Basil SoupCrissy’s delicious Tomato Basil Soup was the perfect thing to brighten the cloudy day’s mood. Warm, comforting flavors beautifully combined with a slight citrus kick: YUM. I know what I’ll be making this winter!

PolentaRebecca made a deliciously rich Mushroom and Herb Polenta from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty. Though this cheesy dish was not making it’s first appearance at our table, nobody cared. I mean, it’s addictively good. Seriously, just go make it. Only then will you understand the heaven our taste buds were in.

Pasta Salad with MushroomsKelle must have read my mind (or my stomach?) when she brought a delicious Mushroom and Herb Pasta Salad with  Corn and Feta. It was the perfect summer dish! Actually, I could see myself making a warm version in the winter. Anything to be able to enjoy this simple dish year-round.

Turkish Lettuce WrapsAt long last, Bibby had the chance to bring in Turkish Lettuce Wraps from Food and Wine. Incredible. I particularly loved the light sauce, kept on the side for drizzling pouring making it rain. Assembly was quick, as we each piled on a little of everything. And just like that, they were gone…

Chocolate Chip Cookies with ToffeeRosie made a guest appearance (cameo by her bright-eyed son, AJ) and really took our breath away with her Chocolate Chip Cookies with Home Made Toffee. Almost dangerous, they were just too good. The sticky toffee left everyone craving more.

Stone Fruit CobblerChristina has been cracking me up for the past month by literally singing praises of stone fruit… but I shouldn’t be laughing. I fully agree that stone fruit is seriously awesome, and we should sing songs about it. Anyway, with the help of Paulina, our Polish Warehouse Intern, Christina created a deliciously simple Stone Fruit Cobbler. She even left out most of the sugar to let the fruit flavors stand out. Absolutely perfect.

Sweet Corn Ice CreamFinally, Beth surprised us with Sweet Corn Ice Cream. I’ve sampled some unusual ice cream flavors in my day, but nothing quite like this! The striking corn flavor made for a slightly sweet yet oddly savory dessert. My taste buds were a bit confused, but some folks in the office were clearly impressed.

All in all, it was a great culinary adventure. We actually ended up with a pretty balanced meal (not too many summer salads), and everything was spot on! Who knows, maybe cookbook club will become more of a favorite recipe club…

Parties That Cook’s Party Crew Brings Portlandia to San Francisco

Last weekend, the Parties That Cook party crew took over Bibby’s house. With her permission, of course (we’re not pirates!). We came together to say goodbye – for now – to our wonderful Operations Manger, Carolyn. She’s moving on to bigger and better things as Parties That Cook’s new Manager of both our Seattle and PORTLAND outposts! Congratulations, Carolyn!

A couple of office folk spent the day decorating according to the hilariously fitting theme: Portlandia! If you haven’t had the privilege of checking out the hilariousness that is this TV show, I recommend you do so now…

OK, now that we’ve got that sorted out, let’s continue. Bibby’s dining room was decked out in such theme-appropriate garnishes as BIRDS. There were birds on the chandelier, birds on the wall, and even birds on the cupcakes! The sign to the left says it all… There was also a dedicated shell art station giving guests the opportunity to take a moment and glue a few shells or some sand on a picture frame for Carolyn! (She’s gotta be up on current trends..)

For dinner, we ordered some absolutely delicious pizzas from Little Star Pizza (we had to give Carolyn a little taste of San Francisco while she’s still here!). Bibby made yummy (and popular) kale salad. Rosie made addictively good cupcakes and brownies for everyone to scarf up. Leave it to our witty Queen of Rules, Regulations, and Laws, Beth, to come up with the PERFECT menu placards.

Adabelle, whose name means Joyous and Beautiful, was raised with her sisters Daisymae and Maisysue on a beautiful farm, where them romped along 4 acres of rolling green hills and jumped in lots of puddles. Her diet consisted of a veritable smorgasbord-orgasbord-orgasbord of organic table scraps hand fed to her by Harold and Mildred Tucker, of Beaverton, OR.

Colin, whose name means The Victory of The People, was raised by the loving Reese family of Lake Oswego on a diet of sheep’s milk, soy and hazelnuts. Traumatized as a young chick when wee Benjamin chased him around the coop, the Reese’s took Colin into their home as a juvenile, where he spent the rest of his days coddled even more lovingly than his eggs.

Armed with this rare inside look into the lives of the animals who so graciously gave their lives for this meal, we were much better prepared to make an informed decision about which pizza to eat. Thanks, Beth!

Guests arrived ready to party — dressed as one of the many Portlandia characters! I have to say, there was a plethora of plaid and flannel ensembles and beanie-like hats. After an impromptu costume contest, we declared two winners: Chef Scott (with his bright blue goatee and facial piercings) and Bibby (with her entire flannel outfit, socks and sandals, and nose ring). Gina created a master playlist of 90s music that kept the party going until it was time to move on to karaoke.

Despite the very incriminating video-graphic evidence we have of Carolyn during this last portion of the evening, I will just say that karaoke was extremely entertaining and fun for all who showed up! Carolyn, though we are missing you already, we wish you the best in Portland! I know you’ll be great up there, and will make us all very proud.

Now come back.