10 July 2013

Concept Party.... an afternoon in the garden

Thinking of throwing an ultimate relaxing summer party in the garden.... and there's no better iconic hostess to inspire than Jane Berkin....her boho chic beauty and style is perfect for a free spirited afternoon. 
The Hostess: Jane Berkin
I love the idea of celebrating the warm weather, beautiful blooms and the bounty of the garden harvest with a laid back event.  The great thing about summer afternoon events is how they linger into the evenings magical hour... how the soft glow of afternoon light gives way to twinkling fairy lights strung in the trees, candles on table tops and the glow of the stars above....all lending itself to hours of conversation and togetherness.

The Drink: Blackberry Smash
The Blackberry Smash is minty and refreshing and just the right amount of sweet and sour.  Blackberries remind me of days spent with my Grandmother driving down dirt roads on the farm gathering berries for pies and jam, so I love the thought of using them for a refreshing summer drink.
Blackberry Smash
2 tbsp coarse sugar
2 1/2 tbsp lime juice
8-10 fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 oz. Chambord
1 oz. Jack Daniels Whiskey
Handful of fresh blackberries
Club soda

Muddle the sugar, lime juice and 6-8 mint leaves for about 30 seconds or about 8 twists of the muddler. Add the Chambord and whiskey and muddle for another 8 twists or so of the muddler.  Shake over ice and pour with the ice into a tall glass. Mix in the blackberries and fill the rest of the glass with club soda. Add remaining mint as garnish.  I love to pluck the blackberries from the bottom, after they've been soaking in the 'smash' for a while and enjoy their juicy goodness.

The Food: 
Cucumber and Napa Cabbage Coleslaw

1 small head Napa Cabbage, finely sliced (about 8 cups)
4 small cucumbers (1 ½ pounds), julienne cut (6 cups)
½ cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/3 cup peanut oil or canola oil
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Red chili flake to taste, optional
Combine cabbage, cucumbers, peanuts and cilantro in a large bowl. Whisk oil, lime juice, sugar, salt, garlic powder and red chili flake if using in a small bowl. Pour over the vegetable mixture and toss to coat.

Grilled Turmeric Chicken (Gai Yang Khamin)

2 tablespoons finely-chopped cilantro stems or 2 cilantro roots
2 teaspoons whole white peppercorns
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
4 large cloves garlic, peeled
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar


Combine cilantro, white pepper, coriander and garlic in a mortar and pestle and pound into a fine paste. Alternatively, combine in a small food processor and process until a fine paste is formed.

Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes; Transfer a large mixing bowl along with fish sauce, oyster sauce, ground turmeric, brown sugar, and the prepared paste. Mix everything together well, cover, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Thread the chicken pieces onto bamboo skewers, pushing them tightly against each other to form a tight, compact body of meat on the skewers.

Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals over the full surface of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set the burners on a gas grill to the medium-high, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.

Grill the chicken, turning occasionally, until thoroughly cooked through and slightly charred, about 8 minutes total. Remove the chicken from the grill and serve.

The Vibe: Decor & Music

Lots of candles and twinkling fairy lights in the trees, natural color baskets, weathered wood furniture, lace and pastel summer accents surrounded by a lush garden.  Have some upbeat Jazz playing softly in the background; perhaps some Harry Connick Jr., Diana Krall, Micheal Buble and Joss Stone.

Hoping everyone is inspired to plan their own Saturday Evening party.

Happy Wednesday Musings!

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