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THAT TIME I SPILLED SEA BASS ON KEANU REEVES

And a recipe for Mac & Cheese Tacos

From The Cocktail Party: Eat, Drink, Play, Recover

I’m not the strongest of athletes. I was on one team during my entire high school and college career – the 8th grade basketball team – and the sole time I was asked to leave the bench and join the game, I did score a basket, sadly though for the opposite team. (special thanks to Coach Sulinski for letting me cry on his clipboard during the long and humiliating bus ride home).

I still don’t know any of the proper rules of the game, nor can I honestly say that I have ever watched more than 30 seconds of any televised sports (do national anthems or half-time shows count?) My husband knows me so well that when he is stuck with an extra ticket and literally no one on the planet is available to join him at a game, he’ll try to bribe me with, “Come one! You can get cheese fries delivered to our seat.”

And while I'm very proud to say that I've catered a party for the New York Jets where Joe Namath was present, other than once attending a bat mitzvah where Jimmy Connors was signing tennis balls, that's all I've got in the sports department.

Actually, that's not true; I did once pull a very sportsman like maneuver with our waiters to remove an offending piece of sea bass that had accidently fallen onto Keanu Reeve's jacket while we were French-serving a dinner at the Woodstock Film Festival. My captain (literally, my service captain, Chris) was the offensive coordinator, alerting me to the fallen piece of fish. My server, Shawn, as quarterback, did a hand-off of a service napkin to me, playing the role of running back, so that I could travel through the party with stealthlike precision. But....dammit!! Interception from Vera Farming, who leaned in to chat with Keanu. Finally, after a short time-out, I approached Neo, I mean Keanu, and casually placed my hand with the napkin on his sleeve and swatted away the fish while asking if I could get him anything from the bar. Touchdown...I think? Either way, crisis averted.

And since I'm a good sport (ha ha ha), I don't want to leave any sports fans/party throwers out in the cold, so I've decided to consult a glossary of sports terms that you can apply toward your next party. I'll pretend I'm your captain (which is funny coming from a girl who joined cross country just so she could run past the players at football practice in short shorts and a cropped tank top), but let's go with it.

the sports fans guide to hosting a party

  • You are the QUARTERBACK of your party; you set the tone, look, feel, smell, mood, and time for your event.  You are in control and have to read the players and be aware of their moves, even if it's just steering them in the direction of the powder room.
  • KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL.  Anticipate your guests' needs before they ask; have drinks ready when they arrive; have snacks set out for nibbling; have a delicious scented candle and hand towels in the bathroom; know when to serve dessert and when to say good night.  You always want to end the party with your guests wanting more.
  • You will be grateful to have RECEIVERS to enjoy all the hard work, planning, love and efforts.
  • There may be INTERCEPTIONS; an unexpected guest, a burnt cake, a spilled glass of wine, or a late arrival. Be all that you can be (oh wait, I think that's the Army slogan). Just go with the flow. Don't sweat the small stuff; have a "more is more" or shake-it-off attitude.
  • Your first GOAL will be very rewarding; whether it be a compliment on your cheese platter, a "Hey! This is the best cocktail ever!" remark or the ultimate...an impromptu dance party erupts. This is a moment when you can SPIKE your vodka...again in celebration.
  • If a FULL COURT PRESS moment occurs (party conversation becomes a little too heavy, debates erupt, your drunk neighbor mistakes your dog for his wife's coat), time to confetti bomb the hell out of everyone.
  • HAIL MARY:  Something I do before all my parties and after my guests leave.
  • PUNCH DRUNK:  A boxing term and also the objective of your punch bowl.
  • VICTORY LAP:  When you guests call or email to offer their thanks, don't waste time telling them you wished the steaks were less well done or that the whipped cream had more airy peaks.  Odds are no one noticed anything amiss but you, so THREE CHEERS FOR THE HOME TEAM.
  • The less you fret about winning their hearts, minds and stomachs, the more they'll love you...and if they don't, please see PUNCH DRUNK.

BEERBON cocktail recipe

Yields 12 Servings

Ingredients

12 12-ounce cans of beer

1 24-ounce bottle of your favorite bourbon

You can either pour the ingredients into a drink receptacle and serve OR serve the beers in a beer tub with a bottle of bourbon and encourage your guests to mix together.

The maco aka THE MAC & CHEESE TACO

MACO the Mac And Cheese Taco with Guacamole (the single greatest game day food on the planet...says me ;)

Makes 24

Ingredients

1½ cups whole milk or half and half

½ cup Velveeta cheese, diced small

¾ cup each Gruyere, sharp Cheddar, Fontina cheese, diced small or shredded

¼ cup blue cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon Chipotle pepper puree

½ box elbow pasta

Kosher salt

3 teaspoons canola oil

36 mini taco shells (see recipe below)

½ cup guacamole

Taco Shells Recipe

8- soft corn tortillas 6"

2 tblsp olive oil

Method

  1. Pre heat the of to 375
  2. Cut out small 2" circles from the larger corn tortilla (yi elds 3 per tortilla)
  3. Brush the shells with the olive oil on both sides to make them more pliable.
  4. Place the tortilla circles in a mini taco shell mold, s eason with salt & pepper and bake until golden approx 6 minutes. 
  5. Let the shells cool and cover in a air tight container until ready to use.

Method

  1. In a medium pot on high flame bring 3 quarts of water to a boil, add a generous amount of kosher salt to the water. This will flavor the pasta. Add the pasta, stir and simmer for approximately 8 minutes or according to the package. Once the pasta is cooked, drain into a colander then lay out flat in a shallow pan to cool down to room temperature.
  2. Wait about 10 minutes then add 3 teaspoons oil and mix through the pasta to avoid it becoming clumpy. Set aside to cool until needed.
  3. To prepare the cheese sauce: Fill a medium pot one-third of the way up with water. Place a larger stainless bowl over the pot, set on a medium flame. Add the milk and allow it to heat up. Using a wooden spoon stir in the cheese, in handful size amounts and repeat until all the cheese is melted in. Check the consistency. If it is too thin and won't stick to the pasta, add more cheese. Add a bit m ore milk if it appears to be too thick.
  4. Stir in the teaspoon of chipotle puree, add salt and taste, adjust if needed. Stir to heat through.
  5. Spoon the macaroni into the taco shells and garnish with guacamole and chipotle cream on top.
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