So, remember when I was having party panic last week? Well, we're down to the wire, kids. The shower is tomorrow. We've got something like 80 or so adults and kids showing up in 24-plus hours. I am on orange alert. All hands on deck! Put on your life jackets! Women and children first!
Wait, what? Oh. Sorry. See? Party planning can make a person act nuts. But you know, I feel like it's all under control. My friend Mark (father-to-be of the baby in question) has an awesome mom named Eva who's not only providing me with two ginorous pans of her famous, fantastic lasagna in both meat and vegetarian forms (because she's just a nice lady like that), but she's also making 100 (100!!) meatballs and bringing the cake -- red velvet. Sweet! I ran my menu by my chefly writing compatriot here, Carolyn Grifel, who gave me some good ideas and suggestions (and talked me into ditching a complicated tart I was going to make; thanks, C!). My friend Martha is going to come over early and help me whip this place into perfect party palace-dom tomorrow morning. All that's left: Prepping today.
Like Chris Hanna suggested to me, making things ahead is the way to go, so this afternoon, I'm pre-making the glaze for the ham (always a good party food; I'm using an apricot and white cherry jam I found for it, which I think is going to be really nice), pre-making the butternut squash-mushroom empanadas (vegetarian for the non-meat-eaters in the crowd, and nicely seasonal), and pre-cutting my radishes, which I'll tomorrow I'll smear with butter I got from a local farmer at the Union Square Greenmarket this week and dusting with a little crunchy sea salt. Some other tasks, like the crunch fennel and radicchio salad I'm making, will wait for tomorrow because I don't want that veg to get brown or the radicchio to wilt, but there's one other thing I'm putting together today that hopefully will still be here tomorrow when the guests arrive: Ina Garten's pan-friend onion dip from
Oh my god, have you ever had this? My friend Cynthia introduced it to me years ago when I came to her house for dinner, which nearly didn't happen because all I wanted to do was eat the damn dip. Seriously. It's the kind of stuff you want to grab a nice bag of kettle chips and sneak away to a room by yourself and eat it all!!!! With any luck, I'll be so busy getting stuff together today that I'll be able to show some restraint, but it's one of my favorite party foods, and something I've yet to find everyone will not merely eat, but fall in love with like I did. With Thanksgiving coming up and all, I highly recommend this for a great pre-dinner nosh, or post-dinner with a bunch of great old Godzilla movies (do they still show those on Thanksgiving?) or snuggled up for a viewing of Miracle on 34th Street. Or football! It's good for that, too. I think it's good for anything. I'd wear it if I could.
Pan-fried Onion Dip
(makes 2 cups)
2 large yellow onions
4 TBSP unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
Cut the onions in half, and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about 3 cups of onions.)
Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan on medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper, and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes, until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.
Place the cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well, Taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature.