Caren’s Cookin’ Bridal Shower

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My wonderful assistant, Caren, is getting married this Saturday and I hosted an intimate bridal shower for her a week ago. Rather than the usual round of shower games, we opted to have a cooking theme, as the bride loves spending time in the kitchen. I hired a personal chef to give us a cooking lesson, the favours were all cooking related and we showered Caren with kitchen gadgets (you know, those fun things you see in the store that you'd never buy for yourself, like bread warmers or cooking stones or 20-piece pizza kits). 

(Photos are by yours truly and are a testament to why I'm a wedding planner and not a wedding photographer).

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I went with a white, black and orange colour scheme. The linens featured black velvet circles, which mimicked the little white bowls I used as part of the guest favours. Bright orange napkins and balls of orange gerber daisies and roses added a jolt of colour. Simple set up but fun and fresh for a laid back Saturday afternoon.

Long story short, I only had a couple of days to put everything together. The night before, I was runningIMG_0789  like a mad woman into the only gourmet kitchen store to find a gift for Caren as well as something to give as favours. Bursting in the door 10 minutes before closing time, the gods were smiling on me as these little bowls matched the linens perfectly. Dashing through the store, I found mini-bottles of flavoured olive oil, mini-spatulas, cocktail spoons and Kahlua & chocolate coffee stir sticks that all fit into the bowls perfectly. All I can say is that the gals at Bocart were incredibly helpful and didn't seem to mind that I was the human version of the Whirling Dervish hyena cartoon. 

Strawberry Basil Margaritas were the signature cocktail and talk about deeeelish! Yum! Have to say, this is one keeper of a recipe and I highly recommend trying these at home.

IMG_0794 Chef Marco was fabulous and taught us how to prepare Vietnamese Summer Rolls with a Tamarind Sauce. Easy to make, nutritious and fun. We all felt like Martha Stewart or Julia Child by the end of the class. That's Caren and her mom assembling the rolls (photo at left).  Here's the recipe:

Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Tamarind sauce

1 pack rice sheets (spring rolls wrappers)

1 head of lettuce, washed, drained and chopped

1 carrot, finely grated

1 cup alfalfa sprouts

1 cup cooked peach palm, peeled and julienned

½ cup ground macadamia nuts

½ cup red cabbage, grated

½ cup fresh basil, chopped

1 avocado, sliced

2 quarts Hot-Warm water to soften rice sheets

Sesame to garnish

 

Sauce:

1 package tamarind

1 cup hot water

1/3 cup brown sugar

¼ cup soy sauce

1 tsp rice vinegar

1 tsp hot sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tbsp fresh grated ginger

¼ tsp Chinese 5 spice powder

1.     To
make the sauce, mix the tamarind in the water and bring to a boil until all
flesh has been removed from the pits. Mix well.

2.     Strain
into another container and return to pan at medium heat.

3.     Add
remaining ingredients and bring to a boil whisking firmly.

4.     Cook
until desired thickness. Adjust flavors and reserve.

5.     For
the rolls, prepare your mise en place of the fillings in a flat surface.

6.     In
a wide bowl, pour ½ Qt of the hot water and submerge the rice sheet for a few
seconds until soft enough. Remove from water and transfer to a clean plate or
damp towel.

7.     Quickly,
filled the inside with the veggies making sure the soft items are on the
outside and the rough one on the inside part of the roll.

8.     Roll
the sides to the middle then fold forward to close the roll firmly and tightly
but gentle enough not to rip it.

9.     Sprinkle
sesame seeds and set aside. Repeat operation with water and sheets until all
the fillings are used.

10.  Served with the
chilled Tamarind and the rolls cut in half.

11.  Refrigerate for no
more than 4 hours, cut only when ready to serve.

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Do those look gourmet or what? 

A fun time was had by all and we all left with a few new culinary skills under our belts. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I think I'll have a cooking party just for the heck of it! 

 

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