Mel's Bridal Shower!

I hosted my second bridal shower on Sunday, for my dear, dear friend Melanie. She's joining the ranks of the officially taken on 8/23, and apparently thought I was up to the challenge of impressing the various women in her life with my hostessing skills. I'm not sure who she thinks she's been hanging out with all these years...but I did my bestest (with much help from my bestest lady, Krysta and the amazingly patient Mr. David) and I think we actually pulled it off!

Lovely flowers from the Flower Mart, arranged by Krysta

A bit of the spread: hummus with whole grain pita bread; heart-shaped lemon sandwich cookies; heart shaped chocolate cups (I loved Surfas so very much this weekend) filled with caramel mousse; one of the TWO vanilla and strawberry marshmallow trees, with caramel and fudge dipping sauces (I cheated and bought them at Whole Foods. I was in crisis, people.)

Cheddar and Parmesan Cheese Crisps, though they really ended up being more like Cheese Chews; Turkey, for those protein crazies out there

White bean and Shiitake Mushroom crostinis. I didn't cut the bread thinly enough. Again, crisis. It was 2:50 and guests were due to arrive at 3. A Note: the Shiitake Ragout makes pretty much nothing. It's delicious but best served at a small dinner party unless you want to buy about 10 pounds of mushrooms...

The Perfect Chocolate Cake. In theory, anyway. I'm so thankful this isn't a detailed shot. This cake gave me more of a headache than anything else I made all weekend. I broke two of the first layers I made clear in half and had to start over. Then the frosting was a failure, but I'd run out of butter and couldn't start over. Disaster. However, Melanie made a point of leaving me a message just yesterday telling me that they were just talking about how delicious it was, so I guess it worked out. Again, I need to work on aesthetics big time. Maybe my baby sister will give me some lessons. Thank God for those flowers...

A closer look at one of the Marshmallows Trees! I have to admit that the idea was not mine--the brilliant Sherry Yard mentions it in her fabulous cookbook, and I pilfered it. It took a lot more doing than I expected, in terms of gathering the supplies. D found the branches online after searching for some time...the vases and stones are from Michael's, as was the foam in which the branches were 'planted.' Next time there will be more rocks, but otherwise I was really pleased with them.

Favors from Paulette's-Madagascar Vanilla and Violet Cassis flavored macarons
(delicious AND their wedding colors-kismet!)

The blushing bride-to-be flanked by friends


Dinner with BHPCers

There was a time not too long ago when I would look forward to going to church every Sunday. If you know me even a little, that may come as an overwhelming shock. I can't even believe I am typing it.

Thing is, at my church gig (yes, I get paid to go to church. Get over it.) at Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church, there came a time when there were a whole bunch of fabulous, fun, like-minded young folks that enjoyed hanging out together and generally just made the experiencing of hearing about Jesus that much more enjoyable.

As it goes far too often, life went on. Organist Steven and Lovely Lawyer Elizabeth got hitched. Curly Haired Composer Coreen moved to Miami and fell in love (and then moved back). Spectacular Mezzo Nichol made plans to move to San Diego and got preggers. And so it was that Tenor Marc and I were left, bored to tears and frustrated with Sundays once again.

Anyhoo...sorry for the awful lot of intro! I decided I missed all those wonderful friends and that I wanted to have one big dinner while we all still lived in relatively close proximity. So, we settled on a date and I got to work on a menu. I stuck to some old standards--tabouli, spanakopita, hummus, grilled chicken and tilapia--but I was inspired to try something new for dessert. Fruit-based seemed the way to go along with this lighter fare. 'Tis the season for strawberries, and I came across the perfect recipe in the Boston Globe. I had never made an upside down cake, but I discovered it really was a piece of cake! It didn't look as perfect as their version, but honestly, I'm still working on my aesthetics in cooking. Isn't it enough that it tastes good?

The recipe recommends serving the cake with whipped cream (and ok, so I did), but I wanted to do something more. I recalled a fabulous ice cream I had a long time ago by Dr. Bob and strove to find something similar online. The Sour Cream Brown Sugar Ice Cream recipe I found on DesertCandy's blog was seriously the easiest ice cream recipe I have ever made (no custard step!) and the perfect tart complement to the sweet, sweet strawberry cake.

It was a fabulous night with some of my favorite people, and I have to say a very successful culinary night for me! I feel so lucky that I have so many wonderful and appreciative people with whom I can share my cooking. It just means I'll keep doing it!