Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring Fling Cocktail Party

How do you know when you've thrown a successful party?

When it's over you can't fit all the empty champagne bottles in your recycling bin.

Miss Social Butterfly Cassandra assembled a great bunch of friends at my place for a spring fling to celebrate her weekend vacation in the Mini Apple. The party did have culinary highlights other than the endless glasses of bubbly. Such as: a local cheese assortment from Surdyk's, an avocado and pea puree, and some sweet and spicy roasted nuts. Ang and Ben brought a killer chopped salad with tofu, sunflower seeds, and a ridiculous peanut butter/maple syrup dressing, and Katie brought some otherworldly 7-layer bars.

The avocado and pea puree was really delicious and so green and springy. I did follow the recipe's suggestion to put the puree on pumpernickel rounds. Sadly, the little loaf of pumpernickel bread I bought was dry and disgusting so the plate looked really beautiful but the taste was just so-so. I recommend this puree on crackers or veggies, or as a sandwich or wrap spread.

The sweet and spicy nuts got their kick from cayenne pepper and I overcooked them just a teensy bit but it didn't matter because they were still pretty good. Good enough that Terrin may have even said that they were better than the ones at 112 Eatery...whoa. I can not wait to put these nuts on a salad with some leftover Northern Lights blue cheese and pears.

And I also made Smitten Kitchen's chocolate pudding, which she calls "the best" but I call "the average." A rare disappointment from that blog. The instructions were to cook the milk, sugar, and cornstarch for 20 minutes but I cooked it for over 30 minutes and it still didn't get as thick as I would have liked it. Regardless, the pudding looked so pretty in the beautiful dishes my Aunt Barb sent to me from Japan.

Worry not - I do not waste food so the leftovers have already been put to good use. I found this cute popsicle mold in the dollar bin at Target last summer and my pudding was much better as a frozen pudding pop!

We started our evening at the yoga studio where Angela led us in a great class. Sorry for the cheesiness here, but the entire night filled me with such a sense of utter contentment. It was soul satisfying, even, to begin the night with inner focus/self meditation and then spend time socializing with such a great group of people. Thanks to all of you who came to spring fling with us!

Avocado and Pea Puree (adapted from Nigella Lawson)
2 avocados
1 bag frozen green peas, rinsed under cold water
1 large clove garlic
juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Mix all ingredients in a food processor. Garnish with a thin slice of radish if desired.

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Nuts (adapted from the Seattle Times)
5 cups raw nuts (I used walnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, and peanuts)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water

Mix the nuts with all the spices and the brown sugar. Mix honey and water together and microwave for about 20 seconds or until honey is runny. Add to nut and spice mixture and mix well. Bake on a sheet lined with parchment paper (this is very important, otherwise your nuts will totally stick to your pan!) at 350 degrees for about 15-18 minutes or until nuts are a nice dark brown color.

Let cool, then break apart and try not to eat them all in one sitting.


  1. It was a fantastic night! Thank you for hosting and all the great food and of course the bubbly too!

  2. WHOOOOO HOOOOOO! Thanks to all of you for such a beautfiul evening! Couldn't agree more!! Fabulous on all accounts!! XOXO!!!

  3. Ali,
    I just got to taste the snap pea, sundried tomato salad that Bridget brought to our Easter Feast and it was wonderful! Now I am on your blog and loving all the foods. I love to cook and will try some of your ideas. Probably the broccoli and tomato roast will be my first this week. Thanks for all your work on this blog.

  4. NEsal - welcome to Green and Lean! I love getting new readers, especially people who love food as much as I do. From what Bridget told me, you are a very talented cook and your Easter Feast was delicious all around!

  5. Very interesting Spring Fling Cocktail Party!! I adored all these photos a lot. The cocktail parties are my favorite. At domestic venues in Chicago I am also going to host cocktail bridal bash for my best friend. I will surely use your ideas to use leftovers.