It's winter. Dreariness abounds. We are caught between the sparkly, gluttonous holiday season and the sun-shiny frolick-inducing springtime. The glimmer of hope in this time is the fruit of the "season": citrus. People always give me funny looks when I say grapefruits are in season right now, but it's true! In the US, citrus from Florida or California is as "local" as it's gonna get in February. And lucky for us, we LOVE citrus. Grapefruit is so hot right now, and its French name (pamplemousse) is possibly the most fun word to say - ever.
So for Xani's birthday a few weeks ago, we decided to celebrate the fruit of the season and bring a little zest (har) into our lives in the form of a citrus-themed ladies' brunch! We had had a similar brunch for Xani last year, but this time we went full out with the theme, from the invitation to the decor to the food and drinks (of course). Even our outfits were citrus-y! We had so much fun planning and executing this party, and after so many years of throwing parties, we have got it down to a science. Bonus: we work really well together :) Here's what we did:
Food & Drink:
As soon as our guests arrived, we plied them with beverages - that's the best part about brunch, right? So many beverages in one sitting (coffee, mimosa, water, bloody, etc.) and nobody bats an eye. We prepared a mimosa bar with orange juice, grapefruit juice, tangerine-clementine-lime juice (which we juiced ourselves), and limoncello, for people who like to put booze in their booze. We purchased coffee from Caribou down the street, and it was quite good. We had citrus-flavored sparkling water as well.
- Lemon-rosemary ricotta mini-muffins
- Tangerine palmiers
- Pistachio citrus poundcake
- Creamsicle cream puffs (cream puffs filled with a vanilla-citrus cream)
|Palmiers and cream puffs|
The palmiers were also a big hit, and I had no idea how easy it was to make them! We put some tangerine zest in the sugar before rolling them out, which gave them a nice citrus-y hint. I will definitely be making these again - lots of "wow" for relatively little work.
The pound cake is a Molly Wizenberg (of Orangette) recipe, and we pretty much love everything Molly does. This cake was no different - it had orange and lime zest, plus lemon and orange juice, and a nice serving of chopped pistachios on top and running throughout the cake. We served the cake from a fancy cake stand with a dome, which made it seem even more ladylike.
The recipe for the mini-muffins was from a diet magazine, so while they were good, they weren't as good as they could have been. Lesson learned.
One of our better ideas was providing goodie bags to our guests, for them to take some of the baked goods home to their families. Thankfully they did and we weren't left with piles of leftovers.
While the ladies enjoyed their mimosas and coffee, and nibbled at the baked goods, we prepared the savory portion of the meal. We served:
For the Citrus Celebration version of this strata, we replaced the parmesan and gruyere cheeses with fontina (for the gooey factor) and goat cheese, and we added a good helping of lemon zest to the egg mixture. It was lovely and a big hit, as usual.
The salad was refreshing and savory, featuring arugula, avocado, radish, scallion, and some grapefruit and blood orange supremes. The salad is drizzled with the grapefruit and orange juices, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Easy, clean flavors, and delicious. And in line with our theme!
We used store-bought mini sausage patties and fried them up as the strata cooked. We cut a corner here in not making our own. So sue us! They were delicious.
|Note the goodie bags on the right|
|Kumquats in a jar|
Finally, we had to make signs for our food - it's tradition.
It was such a lovely party, with great friends, great food, champagne, coffee, and beautiful flowers - we almost forgot it was dreary February.
We're already planning our next party - for my birthday (in July)! You can bet your bippy the theme is a good one.
Happy belated birthday, Xani! We love you!
ps. Here are a few more pictures I had to share:
|Shopping cart at H Mart - no one blinked when I bought an entire cartful of citrus|
|My apartment, all gussied up for a party|
(Note the piggy and cow meat cut prints - my favorites)
|I surprised the birthday girl with a mini coconut cake!|