|"did someone say boozy raisins" - Llama|
|plating the first course, fresh pea soup, crab salad,|
pancetta, brioche breadcrumbs
I have really enjoyed the creative process of planning and designing a menu and I was definitely pleased with how this one came out. The themes usually change from party to party, but its usually some combination of five courses (plus one surprise) with everything made from scratch. It being spring and all, I wanted to make something super seasonal and fresh, so I thought a fresh chilled pea soup would be perfect. While tasty, I don't think I want to go through the process of hand shucking 10 lbs of favas, english, snow and sugar snap peas by hand again - without the help of at least 3 sous chef friends. I did however burn through 3 episodes of last season's Game of Thrones while working on the peas, so I suppose it wasn't a total loss.
|cast iron, you the real mvp.|
The main course of the brunch was my riff on chicken and waffles. Instead of the traditional fried chicken, I went for a pan roast of chicken thighs which I let brine for 12 hours (Thanks Thomas Keller for the recipe). I'm telling you now, if you want the most delicious chicken you've ever had, brine it first. the lemony, herby, salty flavor seeps all the way to the bone and stays moist through cooking. I promise you will not be disappointed.
The one thing I've learned after almost 5 years of throwing this big food parties is that timing is everything. The more I make ahead and the less I plan to cook or finish the morning/day of the better. This leaves more time to actually hang out with my friends. So a little hesitant at first, I decided to make the Belgian waffles the night before and freeze them over night. A few minutes in the oven at 425 and they seemed like they were fresh out of the iron.
|really digging my new decorative plate from Sur La Table|
And then finally, the dessert. When I asked if there were any requests, multiple friends demanded french toast, so french toast dessert they got. Banana Cream Pie French Toast to be exact. For this one, I got a couple fresh white sandwich loaves from Metropolitan Bakery in Reading Terminal Market. I then sliced them about an inch thick, then sliced those down the middle 3/4 the way and stuffed them full with a banana and cream cheese custard. I let them soak overnight in the french toast solution and then they were ready to fry off in the morning. Of course, I never met a caramel that I didn't salt, so these got topped with some homemade salted caramel sauce. And done.
|there is never a reason to not salt caramel. i dare you.|
And there it was, a brunch among friends. who all met over 10 years ago. Incredible to see that in spite of all the advanced degrees, world travels, marriages, and other life events, we still genuinely enjoy each other company and are still close. Days like Saturday are the reason I cook.
Oh, and also to open champagne with swords.
A few more pictures to highlight the rest of the day. (Photo Credit to IG: @JASONDERCK the incredible photographer capturing all the moments throughout the day)
|crispy skin chicken can be had without the deep fry. inquire within.|
|the chicken is now ready to be waffled.|
|getting the french toast ready to come out and play|
|banana cream pie french toast, salted caramel and fresh blackberries|
|here's the main spread minus a few additional dishes. but this is pretty much what started the party.|
|feels like just yesterday that Megan and I were midnight shopping the aisles of walmart trying to select the perfect fabric for our Beerlympics togas|
|Thank you Penn State.|