About a month ago, a good friend of mine asked if I would cater a party for forty people. Of course, I said yes. Before I knew it, the day was here. I spent three days shopping, prepping, and cooking for the party. It was a lot of work but loads of fun.
I cooked for about 14 hours the day before the party. I warned everyone in my house that I wouldn't be available to cook him or her any food, or drive him or her anywhere or do anything else for anyone for that matter. I would only be cooking for the party. I'll admit I did get a little nervous the day before. I had so much to cook and only two ovens. I tossed and turned the night before going over the order in which I would use the oven. I needed to make mushroom pizzas, baked brie, piedmontese pepper salad, dauphinois potatoes, spinach quiche, and roasted chickens.
First, I made the peppers because they take at least four hours to prepare. The house smelled so good. The smell of the peppers woke up my teenage kids. They are used to smelling my cooking but not so early in the morning. Four heaping trays of peppers and tomatoes roasted quietly in the oven. About halfway through the day, Daphne joined me in the kitchen and helped peel potatoes. I was touched. I hadn't asked anyone to help. I figured, this was a job I signed up to do and didn't want to burden anyone else with it. Besides, cooking is my passion and is so much fun for me.
Spinach quiches fresh from the oven.
Sautéed spinach in the pie crust.
A quiche ready to go in the oven.
Stagger the pies for even baking.
Daphne and I stood side by side for a long time peeling tons of potatoes and talking about how much fun this summer has been. I made six casserole dishes of daphinoise potatoes.
Then, I moved on to the easiest dishes. I sliced up all of the fruit, which I would use for the Pimms. I sauted mushrooms in butter, cream, and herbs for the three mushroom pizzas. No, this was not a low fat party. This party was going to be full fat, full flavor, and full fun. This was the kind of afternoon party where a person would need to put on elastic waist pants and take a long nap afterwards. Don't blame me for this high calorie meal. I was just making what the people ordered. Anyway, parties aren't for dieting. Parties are for letting loose and having fun. Dieting should be in moderation like everything else and parties are when you throw that aside.
Next, I made four spinach quiches. Usually, I make the dough myself. However, I am aware of my weaknesses and making quiche dough is one of them. I don't know how my mom and Julia Child make it look so simple and effortless. Mine always turns into a mess and I have to paste it together inside the quiche dish. It still tastes good, but it isn't as pretty as I would like it to be. This time, I was being paid to make dishes that were delicious and beautiful. So, I opted for the ready-made crust. What an excellent idea! I will always make quiches this way. It cuts out about half the time. You can whip up a quiche like this in 20 minutes and it looks amazing. I highly recommend everyone make quiches with a ready-made crust, unless you are incredible like my mom and Julia Child and can do it without any problems.
Time: 25 minutes
1 ready-made pie crust
1 tablespoon olive oil
10-12 ounces fresh spinach
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup ricotta cheese
cup low fat milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large saut pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the spinach and garlic and let it wilt for about four minutes. Add a dash of salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine cheese, milk, eggs, and mustard. Mix well. Place the spinach into the piecrust. Pour the cheese mixture on top. Sprinkle the Parmesan on top of this. Bake for fifteen minutes or until you can stick a fork in the middle and it comes out clean.
Once the quiches were finished, I popped the chickens into the oven and I was done for the night. My lower back hurt and my feet ached. I popped open a bottle of Pinot Noir and plopped myself onto the couch.
The following day, I headed over to the house with the food. I was ready to heat up and serve everything to the guests. Claud offered to stay at the house and help me with the chickens: cut them and make the gravy. He said he would bring them to me in an hour. I almost cried when he said this. I was feeling overwhelmed and nervous that I might not warm everything and plate it all up in time on my own. Claud was an absolute lifesaver. He not only showed up with the chicken and gravy, he helped with everything. A little while later, Daphne showed up to in a beautiful dress ready to help me serve everyone. Not long after, Jack showed up and helped with the serving and removing dishes. I was filled with so much love and gratitude that they all showed up to help me. I really don't think I could have done it without all of their help.
The guests were drinking and enjoying the Pimms and eating all of the food that I cooked. Amongst the chatter and laughter coming from the dining room, I could hear lovely comments about how good it all tasted. I felt happy and pleased that everything turned out so well. Mostly, I felt blessed to have the most amazing family I could ever dream of.