"May your home always be too small to hold all of your friends."
In the month of August, we happily invited groups of friends and my whole family over to our place for the first time. Because our apartment is cozy, we had to host on a few different occasions, so I wanted to make the food and drinks distinctive for each gathering. We hope to have more guests over soon, and would like to thank those who made the trip out to Brooklyn!
Last of the London Olympics Get-Together
I always enjoy watching the Olympics. On the final weekend of the 2012 London summer games, a few friends came over on short notice to visit us at our new home in Brooklyn, and help break in our new TV -- which I find monstrous at 43" -- as we had what I declared London-inspired food and drinks.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Ham Sandwiches with Dijon-Apricot Jam
Fish and Chips
Curry Olympic Onion Rings
Vegetable Crudités and Hummus
English and Irish Cheeses, Water Crackers and Grapes
Vanilla Cupcakes with Royal Icing
Earl and Lady Grey Teatini
Gin and Tonic
|Dinner and dessert preparation|
Did you know chicken tikka masala is one of Britain's most popular foods? I cooked chicken breast on the stove and then added Maya Kaimal's simmering sauce, purchased at Williams-Sonoma, for a quick and easy dish.
|Chicken tikka masala served with brown rice|
An important English food category is the sandwich. After all, wasn't it the invention of the Earl of Sandwich? I read somewhere that a basic sandwich could consist of hearty bread, slices of ham, and a sweet and savory spread. I mixed 1 part dijon mustard with 1 part apricot jam to create a dijon-apricot jam to go with the ham. Our Roadhouse bread was from Zingerman's, an Ann Arbor, MI gastronomical institution, which -- thanks to my sister-in-law, Grace -- ships a different loaf to me each month according to the Zingerman's Bread Club. (I just received the second loaf, a Paesano bread, and that will be followed by Chocolate Sourdough, Farm Bread, Better than San Francisco Sourdough, and Pecan Raisin!)
|Ham sandwiches with dijon-apricot jam|
My fish and chips were not traditional at all. Loosely following a recipe from Anna's Table, I baked a whole wheat panko-crusted cod, to have with tartar sauce, malt vinegar, and sea salt (the ketchup was for onion rings). I meant to also make a version of chips by baking strips of potato, but I was short on time and sweating from the oven in our tiny kitchen in August, so I put out a basket of salt and vinegar potato chips. Ta-da! Still fish and chips.
|Fish and chips (upper right corner)|
Using a similar dredging and dipping technique, I made Rachael Ray's Olympic Onion Rings, which my husband loved and continued to ask me to make for the next couple of weeks. Like the fish and would-be chips, these onion rings were baked and not fried, and included curry powder, cornflakes, and whole wheat breadcrumbs.
|Curry Olympic onion rings|
The vegetable crudités were just miniature sweet peppers, baby carrots, and cherry tomatoes, served with plain hummus.
|Veggies and hummus|
I love English Stilton so I knew I wanted to include that as one of the cheeses, and I was going to buy a regular cheddar but saw Guinness Cheddar at Union Market, a nice grocery store near my apartment. You could really taste the Guinness, which I know is Irish -- not English or British -- but Northern Ireland is part of the UK, and people in England drink Guinness, right?
|English/Irish cheese board with water crackers and grapes|
For dessert, I used a Nigella Lawson recipe to bake vanilla cupcakes with royal icing. They tasted very buttery, and like other reviewers, I found these were more muffin-y than cupcake-like, so while I enjoyed them, I may try baking them again (plus, I recently bought an oven thermometer). Aren't the cupcake wrappers and topper picks adorable? They're from the Meri Meri "It's British" Cupcake Kit, purchased at Sur La Table, which is also where I bought the Union Jack napkins and red paper straws.
|Vanilla cupcakes with royal icing|
When I thought of English drinks, I naturally considered tea. My teatini consisted of Earl Grey and Lady Grey iced tea, vodka (Stoli is the preferred brand in our house), and St-Germain, which is a really lovely, surprisingly versatile elderflower liquor. For the Pimm's cup, there are countless variations, so I made mine with Pimm's No. 1, San Pellegrino limonata, sliced lemon, orange, apple, cucumber, and sprigs of mint. We also drank gin (Henrick's) and tonic (Q Tonic), another classic British cocktail.
|Cocktail preparation ("Robyn," my KitchenAid mixer, does double duty)|
To round out the drinks, we had bottles of Newcastle and Bass ales in addition to the cocktails and San Pellegrino.
|English ales and Earl and Lady Grey teatini|
Summer Sunday Brunch
Brooklyn Cocktail Party with Home Blessing
I thought I would be able to include everything in a single post, but there's too much. Luckily it's a long weekend, so I hope to be able to catch up on my updates. May your long weekend be as productive or as relaxing as you need it to be!