Saturday, July 7, 2007

Who eats French food on Independence Day?!

By Erin

To celebrate the Fourth of July (and the day off!), Xani and I decided to have lunch together. I suggested that we go to Bonaparte, a French bakery in Fells Point (which has another store near Mom and Dad's, where we got our bread for Father's Day), which has great food, beautiful pastries, and is located right on the water.

Now, I know eating French food on Independence Day seems communist or whatever, but we don't hate freedom! We just love pastries! Cut us some slack!

Anyway, Bonaparte is lovely on the inside, with ornate decorations and a beautiful display case of treats. There is also a bust of Napoleon, which we could NOT resist posing with.

We each got the lunch special, which included a sandwich (hot or cold) or a piece of quiche, a small salad, potato chips, a drink, and a dessert from the case. It was a bit expensive ($13 each) but it was delicious and quite a bit of food.

Xani got the brie sandwich, and I got the spinach quiche. The brie sandwich was served cold, on crusty baguette, with some greens and vinaigrette. The quiche was served warm, with delicious eggs and well-seasoned spinach, and the crust was puff pastry - what could be bad?? The salads were standard, as were the chips.

For our desserts, Xani got the cherry tart, and I got the blueberry tart. Both were delicious - sweet, delicate, and freshly-made - the cherry one was especially good.

The bonus at the end of the meal was the cutest dog ever (uh, excluding Gellie, of course...)! He was a tiny Pomeranian named Brazen and we just about died at his cuteness!

Hope everyone's Independence Day celebrations were fun and delicious, and yay for freedom!

Happy eating,


Thursday, July 5, 2007

"Southern" BBQ Party

By Xani and Erin

This past weekend marked the second BCD summer party! Erin wanted to throw a bash to celebrate the successful completion of her and her classmates' first year of law school, as well as get her school friends and work friends to mix and mingle. The "Southern-style" BBQ was held on Saturday, at BCD headquarters (Mom and Dad's house) and here is the menu:

  • Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches with Zesty Coleslaw
  • Bourbon Chicken Bites
  • Mississippi Caviar
  • Hot and Sassy Cornbread Mini-Muffins
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Watermelon
  • D.I.Y. Strawberry Shortcakes
  • Mint Juleps
  • Lynchburg Lemonade
But, we've already gotten ahead of ourselves! First off, we took a page from BCD Dad's book and created a Google Spreadsheet to help us create our shopping lists. Friday night, we headed to various local stores and picked up all the ingredients. We knew we had a full day of cooking on Saturday so we wanted to get the pork started on Friday. We were using this recipe for the pork, so we began by scoring the skin of the pork shoulders (Xani is getting proficient at this), making the rub (which included coriander seeds, mustard seeds, chili pods, and garlic), and preparing the sauce (which was just yellow mustard, ketchup, and molasses). Then we rubbed the pork, placed them on beds of sliced onions, and left detailed instruction for BCD Dad to put them in the oven first thing Saturday morning (we need our beauty sleep!).

Saturday morning, we woke up and got right to work. We had LOTS to do before the party started at 6:30. Dad had dutifully put the pork in the oven and it needed to cook for about 3-4 hours, so we got to work on the many other dishes:

Deviled Eggs: We knew these were going to be very popular so we made a LOT of them. We think we boiled about 30 whole eggs, that's 60 deviled eggs! And each one needed to be boiled, peeled, and cut in half. Then we prepared the filling (we made up the recipe and mixed mayonnaise, dry mustard, horseradish, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper into the yolks) piped it back into the halves, and sprinkled the requisite paprika on top.

Watermelon: BCD Dad also helped us out with the Watermelon. Here's his step-by-step proces for dismanteling a seedless watermelon (which was SOO delicious and summery!)

Coleslaw: As we were using the Cookin' in Brooklyn recipe for the pork, we wanted to serve it with coleslaw, per the chef's reccomendation. We did take a shortcut though-- we used prepared coleslaw for the grocery store as our base. We then strained it to take out the excess liquid (we would be adding more and we didn't want it to get too gloppy). We assumed the coleslaw already had mayo and sugar in it, so we just added the additional ingredients from this recipe (including white wine vinegar, dijon mustard, celery seeds, Old Bay, and Sriracha (a vietnamese hot sauce)) and Voila! Delicious, zesty coleslaw, without all that tedious shredding of cabbage...

Mississippi Caviar: Not real caviar at all, this is a southern bean salad. We used a recipe from BCD Mom's The New Basics Cookbook which is so well-loved it is literally falling apart! Mom put this recipe together for us. It consisted of drained, rinsed black-eyed peas, red peppers, green onions, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, jalapenos, hot sauce and thyme. The final mixture was great-- really flavorful, light, refreshing, with just a little kick of heat. We prepared it early in the day and it was even better after sitting in the fridge for a few hours.

Bourbon Chicken Bites: If we have learned one lession from past parties, it is that people LOVE chicken. Basically you can never make enough. Xani threw a similar party after HER first year of law school (pre-blog; in fact, dinosaurs roamed the Earth during that party!) and we served chicken and people ate SO MUCH that we ran out of food and had to order pizza. Since then it has been our goal to never run out of food again. So we made A LOT of Bourbon chicken bites. We rubbed the chicken thighs with a "secret" spice mixture (read: Xani already forgot what she put in it) and roasted them in the oven. Meanwhile we made the bourbon BBQ sauce, which started with sauteed onions, and then we added ketchup, molasses, mustard, worchestershire sauce, chili powder, and of course, bourbon. When the chicken was cool, we cut it into "bites" and tossed with the delicious, Bourbon-y sauce.

Hot and Sassy Cornbread Mini-Muffins: These were awesome and really fun and easy to make. We used store-bought cornbread mix, prepared it according to the box, then, adapting another recipe from The New Basics, added minced jalapenos, creamed corn, canned corn niblets, sour cream, and brown sugar. We used a mini ice cream scoop and mini-muffin pans to create these adorable, tasty treats!

The sour cream and creamed corn really kept them nice and moist. However, the jalapenos didnt pack much of a punch. Next time we will add some chipotle in adobo (our favorite!) and maybe some shredded cheese to crank up the flavor a few notches!

D.I.Y. Strawberry Shortcakes: These could not have been easier. Xani hulled and sliced 2 pounds of gorgeous strawberries, and got a little camera happy...

Erin prepared the shortcakes according to the recipe on the good ol' Bisquik box, but we added some finely chopped fresh rosemary to give them a little more flavor.

Needless to say, the batter was delicious! The shortcakes cooked quickly in the oven, while the berries mascerated in a little bit of sugar and a spoonful of raspberry preserves. We were going to make our own whipped cream but with all of the other things going on, we settled for good ol' Reddi-Whip.

Finally we had all the cooking done! Then it was time to get dressed and get everything set up. Earlier in the day we had made little signs for all the food (this is a classic tool in the BCD party-throwing arsenal; our signs have become a tradition!). Of course, our signs MUST go with our theme of the party! Unfortunately, however, Erin sort of blurred the lines between "Southern" and "Western" in her Evite and some of the food, so we had a rather confused theme. In keeping with this confused southern/western theme, we used bandanas as the base for our signs, and a kooky southern-style font (is there such a thing??). Xani also felt the need to dress appropriately, hence her adorable hat!

Now let's talk alcohol. Our kind guests showered us in alocholic gifts, and we also had two specialty drinks on hand: Mint Juleps and Lynchburg Lemonade.

Mint Juleps: Special thanks to Lydia for bringing the fixin's for this drink, which included sugar syrup, mint, bourbon, and ice. While you are supposed to make a "mint sugar syrup" by steeping the mint leaves in the still-hot sugar syrup, we only had regular sugar syrup so we did a little muddling of the mint with the ice and bourbon. Dad helped out a lot in putting these bad boys together. Boy were they strong!!

Lynchburg Lemonade: Special thanks to Kim and Ben for bringing the LL ingredients, which included sour mix, triple sec, Jack Daniels, and Sprite. These were fantastic - refreshing, delicious, and you can't even taste the liquor (which could be a very good or a very bad thing...)!

All in all, it was a great, successful party, and we got so many compliments on everything! Erin was so glad to have her friends from high school, college, law school, and work all together in one place! Thanks to all who came!

Happy BBQing,

X & E

P.S. We had a lot of great pics from the party, so take a look at the album!

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