A Small Cocktail Party for 25

This year I opted to take a hiatus from my annual holiday party which typically sees anywhere from 40 to 80 guests.  I started the tradition in 1992 and it’s the first year that I chose not to do it due to my recovery from a recent neck injury.  But since I love to host and wanted to do something to celebrate that same road to recovery, I decided to host a smaller party to thank all the people who helped me while I was down and out for a few months and contributed towards it.  I really appreciate all these people who did so much for me from providing physical therapy to bringing over food to taking walks with me to inviting me over for dinners and in so many other ways.  And so last night, I had this small group of friends over for a cocktail party.  


The forecast looked ominous with snow and ice predicted and I woke up with one of my intense sinus headaches.  I had bought all my food and planned a menu and really hoped that the evening would not need to be cancelled.  Lots of warm compresses and a bit of Advil took care of the headache.  The snow started early and continued throughout the day.  I was determined and continued with my prep and cooking.  My friends M & R came over early to help.  Always more fun to cook for a party with others so we had fun and kept our fingers crossed.  A few “maybe” texts, emails and calls started coming through but we kept on going.  If no one came, the three of us would be gaining a few pounds that evening.  At 6pm, I went out and cleared off the steps and walkway and made a walking path on the driveway.  There were only about two inches of light fluff on the ground and I felt hopeful.  By 7pm I had received a couple of cancellations but some guests started arriving too.  I put out towels for the snowfilled shoes that were sure to trek in and began greeting those who braved the weather.  And so the party began……

Soup & Cava Stations by the Front Door

I had warm soup waiting for everyone at the door along with filled flutes of Cava – perfect for coming in from the cold.  The snow was left outside (well mostly) and I ended up with about 20 guests and we had a fantastic time.

When I host a party I like to serve food I can make ahead of time and reheat or serve at room temperature.  This allows me to enjoy the party and talk to my guests.  Planning ahead and making lists is key to the success of any party.  I prepare the house during the entire week, late at night, after work and dinner have been taken care of.  Sleep is not something I get a lot of before one of these but there’s always time to catch up after the party.  So my menu was……

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Salmon Roe marinated in Smoked Olive Oil
Asian Beef Salad
Spicy Thai Shrimp served chilled on a Himalayan Salt Block
Crostini with White Bean puree
Batata Wada (spicy potatoes fried in a coating of chick pea flour)
Spiced Rosemary Walnuts
Cheese/Salami/Olive board
Smoked Salmon with Capers, Dill & Red Onion served with Pumpernickel Bread
Meatballs (provided by PK)
Crudite with a Greek Yogurt Herb Dip
Desserts – Brownies, Custard Squares with Prunes, & Lemon Ginger Tart (provided by IN & MG)

Plate Tags
For drinks I kept it simple and served some Cava and lots of wine.  I had planned to make a cocktail but shoveling snow took away the time I needed and so it was skipped.  I don’t think anyone missed it.  Since it was going to be a somewhat smaller group I decided to forego the paper goods and use real plates, cups, etc.  I served the soup in espresso cups (borrowed some from neighbors) which is a great way for guests to walk around and sip the soup, and used small appetizer plates that I have collected over the years.  My only concern with the plates was that most people, at parties, will take a plate, put it down and lose it.  Well since I didn’t have enough plates to allow for multiple takings, I came up with the idea to tag each plate with festive looking binder clips and asked the guests to write their names.  This way plates could be put down and found again for refills.  

Asian Beef Salad with Watercress, Herbs & Red Chilis
Creamy Cauliflower Soup w/ Salmon Roe

Here are photos of some of the food….

Smoked Salmon with Dill
Spicy Thai Shrimp on Himalayan Salt Block

Crudite with Greek Yogurt Herb Dip

Happy Holidays and a Fun 2014 to all my readers out there!!!!!

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