Sunday, February 26, 2012

The First Tea Klatsch

I.e. 'you need to crack a few eggs... to make oefs en cocotte'

The undertaking of a new action brings new strength.

How exciting it is to start out fresh!

This Tea Klatsch is another first, following on the heels of the Literary Tea, and I am totally jazzed about these initial successes!

Since I usually document the cooking and baking process with photos but can't do the same for the event-planning process, I will weave in the event steps here, alongside the I'm-sure-tantalizing food photos.

Who doesn't need maple-oat scones?
1) Identify the need
Having kept my ear to the ground during discussions with friends, I noticed that many of us were going through transitions, and were feeling the need to talk about it, get advice about it, vent about it, and/or hear about others' experience. So, how 'bout a party?

2) Come up with Idea to Pitch to Serve the Need
Since people are busy, and people going through transitions usually more so, I needed to come up with an idea for a gathering that would be fun and inviting, not just a happy hour or brunch in DC. Being me, I like themes, and this one was easy to see: transitions!

3) Organize and Invite
I chose to twist the traditional coffee klatsch idea to my purposes, creating a 'Tea Klatsch," and promising to bake some goodies. This turned into brunch as I let my imagination run away with me (usually a good thing). I used Google calendar for the email invitation again, even though it created some non-gmail address problems last time...

4) Prepare!
I combed my spreadsheet of waiting-list recipes the night before, honing in on the tab for breakfast, and easily landed on the Maple-Oat Scones from Smitten Kitchen. I followed her recipe almost exactly, except that I substituted an extra 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour for all-purpose, and didn't have space to roll out dough, nor a cutter to cut (plus I'm not good at this), so used the (patent-pending) ball-and-squash method for shaping.
Next I found a couple great resources online for how to plan a brunch, one at Smitten Kitchen itself, and a similarly witty one at A Dinner Party, a favorite blog. From the former I took the idea for latkes, but neglected to take her suggestion to make them ahead, since I was struggling with a cold and hoping it would go away. Oops. 
From the latter I struck on eggs for a balance of protein-- baked eggs seemed the least fussy. Found that recipe (also called 'oefs en cocotte' for those who like to get fancy) here. Didn't change anything except the cooking time, which was foiled by two late arrivals, hence 'shirred eggs' became basically hard-boiled. Ah well. Also, for those who have crappy baking pans like me: I couldn't make a bain-marie of 1 1/4 inches, so I set the timer for every 3 minutes to check if I needed to refill the water in the shallow pan so it didn't go dry. That worked out well.

The Latkes: Having gotten the idea for these from Smitten Kitchen, I was immediately drawn to making them because:
1) I never got my annual fix of latke fever last Hannukah and was still craving it
2) I had a sack of premium Dutch yellow potatoes rarin' to go (thanks, Trader Joe's)
3) they were not bread and not protein, so seemed to offer some balance to the brunch spread (if pressed, I would include them in the vegetables group)
My one hang-up? When I Googled the how-to's for latkes, starchier potatoes were recommended for crispiest results. Where the heck were Dutch yellows on the scale of starchiness? More Googling ensued. It turns out the company which produced the potatoes, Melissa's, had a recipe for latkes on their site. Bingo! I went back to following SK's approximate recipe, approximately doubling the ingredients. My ingredients included:
1.5 lbs dutch yellow potatoes, rinsed and grated (held in water-and-lemon-juice while preparing the rest)
1 large yellow onion, chopped finely
2 small fall apples, peeled and grated
the beaten egg from the scones plus another medium egg, + flour
salt and pepper
The teas chosen were again from Capital Teas, a purveyor now available in Dupont Circle: Caramel Toffee Pu-Erh, Love Affair (a rooibos), South Pacific (a flavored black tea), and Lemon Basil Oolong. No complaints, except that I need more tea strainers for this kind of thing!

The results?
 I think they speak for themselves.

Or at least the smiling faces might.

Going forward, I would:
1) do the latkes ahead of time as suggested and reheat in a medium oven
2) ditch the individual baked eggs and go for one big cheese souffle

In terms of non-food results, some of them remain to be seen, but it was oh-so-energizing to get such positive vibes and unconditional support from other gals facing their own tough decisions.
I look forward to checking in with them about the steps they are taking to reach their goals, and expect them to be checking in on me with mine as well!

No comments:

Post a Comment