Thursday, September 11, 2014


Since my party-giving has been sparse of late, and mostly of a make-your-own-pretend refreshments, or of the buy-most-of-the-snacks variety, I’ve been reminiscing over an album or two, of back when I COULD and DID.

An afternoon Birthday Party for a friend’s Mama’s 85th Birthday.   Miss Celeste had requested some “Tea Party Fare,” and then the hostess chose some more, heartier items to take the Four O’Clock party on way past the Cocktail Hour.

A tray of Tea Sandwiches.   Chicken Salad Fingers on the left, and Paminna Cheese Triangles on the right.

Little cucumber hearts with dill cream cheese. Both the dill and the tiny crisp cucumbers came in from the garden not five minutes before the sandwiches were made: 

Caro did miniatures of several of the sandwich rolls they make at her bakery:

Little subs with salami, provolone, basil leaves and garlic/oregano vinaigrette:

Juicy thick slices of Chris' smoked turkey, warm from the grill, on wheat rolls with cranberry mayo.

Shiny little brioche with deli ham, American cheese, baby garden lettuce, and mustard/mayo for the children, though quite a few adults were partaking:

Broccoli/ham/grape tomato quiche rectangles---one of the most requested dishes at weddings and parties that we catered over the years. This is the crustless version, and it’s sturdy enough to stand up as “finger food” if the occasion merits.   I've mentioned before the Mother Of The Bride who chose from our menu, called me with her selections, and ordered the "quickie." 

Baby red potato salad, the one true recipe I follow to this day; after the pickles are gone from the pantry, I make up just jars of the juice, with vinegar, sugar, cloves and allspice (only one of each per quart), for anointing the still-warm potatoes before adding the minced sweet onion, minced bell pepper, and boiled eggs, along with a mustardy mayonnaise and celery seeds.    Don’t know why some of these pictures are so dark---it was a lovely dish, in sunny yellows, and looked very appetizing in person.

Crudite with herb dip---I've found that leaves of baby butter lettuce or baby romaine are some of the most popular dippers. 

A three-layer mold of a firm egg salad, very little mayo, some mustard, lots of salt and pepper;  a layer of cream cheese with a breath of garlic and gently-stirred-in salmon caviar, and a topping of avocado with lots of lime and salt. Dark breads for spreading. 

Sweet/sour meatballs with pineapple. The sauce is the one used at our favorite Chinese restaurant ever, and since we went there almost every week for fifteen years, they parted with their recipe---very easy and delicious.

The ever-popular devilled eggs---she said "very plain" so I just used a bit of tomato or parsley.

A corned-beef cheese ball--my Mother's recipe. She heard about the dried beef one (probably under the hairdryer) and mistakenly bought corned beef instead of the tiny jar of dried. She smushed up an entire can of Hormel and mixed it with cream cheese, garlic, mayo, and lots of scallion tops, and  a family favorite was born, especially after she started patting on toasted pecans.

Quite good for cocktails, though there was one local guest who, at every party, would seek out whatever kind of bread was available on the buffet and commandeer two slices. He'd come back and cut a great slab of the corned beef ball, fit it between into a sandwich and munch away happily.   I think we served about four of these at our wedding.

I believe I’ve shown this picture before:   A lovely endive tray with mascarpone mixed with dried cherries, topped with walnut halves candied in port. I saved the reduction after I took out the glazed halves to dry and took it along to the party in a little jar. After the tray was arranged and the walnuts in place, I drizzled a bit of the wine glaze down the length of each one. They ate up every bite.


Jeanne said...

Hello dear Rachel, Your list of awesome things to eat makes my mouth water. As always, your description is worthy of printing in a cook book. I mean it. There was a day when I also went all out with preparing untried recipes for any special occasion. I was fearless. HA! Not anymore. However, I am happy with what I do now. Comfort food and not so fancy,suits my lifestyle perfectly now.

I loved your comment on my PS post and I am sorry it has taken me so long to visit. We were happy to be in FL last week and since we have been home my garden club is having their annual flower show at the county fair. Being co-chairman this week has been crazy busy. For Pink Sat. I am posting photos from the fair. It was lovely with so many beautiful entries.

I have to mention that your memory about the wooden box was so sweet and it made me smile so much. Reading your memories makes everything crystal Clear in my minds eye.

Thank you for your visits and lovely comments.
Love, Jeanne

Jacqueline said...

Torture me late at night! I love little bites the best. Sounds like you have always had a lot of fun with food! Enjoy!! You made so many fun and delicious foods.

Kouign Aman said...

I would love thr corned beef ball recipe, please!

racheld said...

Oh, Jeanne!

What a fabulous talk we had!! It's still re-playing in my mind, and I wish I could remember every word. Having you two on the other end of the line was a wonderful hour in my life, though I felt that I did too much bubble and blurt, just jumping right in over you, in my excitement at hearing your voices for the firs time.

love and,

racheld said...


Always lovely to have you drop in! Those were dishes from some time ago, back when I was still making parties for crowds and lugging food, dishes, punch and all all over town.


racheld said...

Dear KA,

I've MISSED you!! Hope all is well and cooling out there in sunny CA. And Herself must be quite the young lady, in school again after Summer.

The recipe is an old hair-dryer hear-about, so:

Pack of Philly cream cheese
Can of Armour or Hormel corned beef (NOT HASH)
Big spoonclop of mayo
Sprinkle of garlic powder
Green parts of three or four scallions, sliced thin crosswise

Have Philly very soft; Put corned beef and Philly in a bowl and smush with a wooden spoon or even mixer, if your is heavy-duty enough

Get them all creamed together til it's a fairly uniform pink all through, mix in everything else, and form into one or two balls. Easiest if scooped out onto Saran or waxed paper, then use it to kinda round up the mass into a sphere.

Wrap in Saran and chill for at least a couple of hours.

Toast a cup or so of pecan halves and chop. (Never-fail Southern method is 200 degrees on a cookie sheet for one hour). Just before serving, spread pecans on waxed paper or a plate, unwrap and roll ball around until coated.

Will keep for a week re-wrapped and in Tupperware, though pecans will lose some of their CRISP after storing.

Lotsa additions you can make: Pimiento or minced green pepper or a few chopped olives of some crumbled bacon. I've even rolled them in toasted sunflower seeds instead of pecans, and they're lovely It's humble and homey, and not at all what you'd call CUISINE, but for a nice hearty spread with cocktails---quite good.

And log-shapes are nice, as well.
Always lovely to hear from you!

No cups on the tree this year; just didn't get to it.


Kim S. said...

Read and savored every word! My favorite in of meal. But I couldn’t see any of the pictures. Tried in Google and IE.