Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Strawberry Party

May 10th was my birthday.  May 3rd was my cousin’s birthday.  On top of that, our friends from Seattle were visiting this past weekend and wanted to see everyone.   So, as usual, any reason to have a party...  :)

Since May is strawberry season, our grandmother would always make Hillary and I the Duncan Hines Strawberry cake.  This cake is what started the ball rolling on the party.  I’ll have a separate post about the cake, but basically I decided I wanted to recreate it from scratch.  Then I saw a strawberry cocktail recipe and I thought “Why not have a strawberry themed party?!”  After weeks of looking at strawberry recipes, here’s what I settled on:
Strawberry Bruschetta
Strawberry mascarpone bites
Cheese tray with strawberry jam
Strawberry scones
Strawberry and mixed field green salad
Strawberry chicken club on homemade bread
Strawberry amaretto cocktail
(And of course the cake)

Funny little story... to make all of these dishes, I needed 12 pints of strawberries.  While in line at the checkout, I’m putting my strawberries on the conveyer and I hear “Whoah!  That’s a lot of strawberries!”  The little girl in front of me (about 7 yrs old) was in shock.  She asked “How many is that?” and I said “12!  I’m having a strawberry party.”  She then turned to her Dad and said “She’s got 12!  We only got 2!”  Then, my favorite part, she proceeded to help me unload my groceries onto the conveyer.  What a great kid!!

So I’ll just walk through each one of the dishes...
Strawberry Bruschetta
I bought one loaf of a long, wide french baguette, sliced it down the middle, brushed it with olive oil and grilled it.  It was long enough that each half gave me roughly 13 slices, which was perfect.  I made 2 types: A caprese style with chopped strawberries, diced mozzarella, olive oil, good balsamic vinegar and chopped basil; and a goat cheese, strawberry and honey.
I got the idea from this site/recipe.

They were both quite tasty, but I think the caprese was my favorite.  I like tomatoes in general, but I am picky about what I like them on and have never loved caprese.  But the strawberries work so much better than tomatoes in my opinion!  I think my palate just prefers the slightly more sweet flavor of the strawberries to most tomatoes.  Hillary reiterated this because she really doesn’t like tomatoes, but the strawberries worked quite well for her too.  I may even make this into a salad.  One complaint - it was hard to eat without everything falling off.  Which, granted, is a common problem with bruschetta.  Next time I would try layering the strawberries with the mozzarella.

Caprese Bruschetta

Strawberry Mascarpone Bites
I wanted something that people could just pop into their mouth when they were hanging around chatting and these were perfect.  Simply strawberries cut in quarters and filled with a mascarpone cheese mixture.  I followed this recipe, but I used amaretto instead of chocolate liquor since I had the amaretto on hand.  They were so, so tasty!  One of the favorites of the day based on an informal poll.  :)

Thanks to Jessica for assembling these!!

Cheese tray with strawberry jam
Nothing too fancy here... we had Beecher’s Flagship cheddar and a Forme D’Ambert blue, with rosemary crackers and Strawberry Mojito Jam that our friends brought from Seattle.  It was a perfect compliment to the 2 cheeses.

Strawberry Scones
Ok, so this was by far the favorite of the day.  This is one of the best scone recipes ever!!  I got it here and I just used fresh strawberries instead of the frozen berries.  These are super light and fluffy and the ingredients are wonderfully healthy.  She even offers vegan options.  I would highly recommend trying these scones.  They were easy to make, but you do need a lot of flour for handling because the dough is sticky.  I plan on trying them with blueberries and then later in the summer, peaches.  I also want to try a savory version - maybe cheddar and rosemary.

Strawberry and mixed field green salad
I looked at A LOT of salad recipes.  I wanted something more interesting that just strawberries, spinach and a simple vinaigrette.  I ended up picking this recipe strictly because of the dressing.  It’s nicely complicated with flavors that seemed like they would go really well with all the other ingredients.  It calls for spinach, but since there in spinach in the sandwich, I didn’t want to use it twice.  So I replaced it with mixed field greens.  It really needed the spinach though.  It needs a hardier green.  Arugula may work as well.  The dressing however is one of the best.  I plan on making a batch for the fridge to use on random salads.  It’s really unlike any other dressing I’ve had - tart and slightly sweet and a beautiful coral color.

Strawberry chicken club on homemade bread
I wanted at least one fairly hearty dish that could act as the “entree” - even though everything was finger food.  I looked at several sandwiches and settled on this one because most people like club sandwiches.  Also it just looked good in general.  And I thought the homemade “outback” bread would make a really good sandwich bread.
So I baked off 4 loaves the weekend before and froze them.  Took them out 2 days before the party and put them in airtight containers.
I didn’t want anything too large so I didn’t do a “stacked” version - I just made one layer.  And the only other thing I changed is I marinated the chicken in a lemon, rosemary, garlic marinade because I really wanted the chicken to be juicy and flavorful.  I’m really glad I did that.  The chicken came out super yummy - very lemony and herby.  My husband and I were very glad that we had leftover chicken.  We will be making yummy sandwiches and salads for a while.
Overall the sandwiches were really good.  All of the flavors worked really well together.  And again, I think the fact that the strawberries were just slightly sweeter than tomatoes, it just worked a little better.  Plus, they have bacon on them.

A HUGE thanks to Jessica and Alex for assembling the sandwiches!!

Strawberry amaretto cocktail
I was a bit disappointed in the cocktail.  Not because of the recipe, which was this one, but because I don’t think it was really what I wanted.  I thought I wanted a champagne or prosecco based cocktail, but when it came down to it, I think I would’ve preferred a punch of some kind.  I wanted something more mixed and fruity.  And my husband had to spend too much time making drinks.  I think I’m going to stick with punches for parties from now on.

Overall we really enjoyed our party.  I was really happy with the food and it was great to have everyone together and visiting and eating and laughing.

Tomorrow I will post about the cake....  :)


  1. I can confirm that all of these foods tasted amazing! Leave it to you to pull off a strawberry-themed party, all of it was terrific and I'm glad I got to be a part of it :)

    1. thanks!! we were happy to have you there. stay tuned - there may be old pics of hillary in the cake post. :)

  2. Everything was so delicious. I can't wait to try to make the scones!