What’s a hungry foodie to do when all the current food trends have been sampled, the must-taste ingredients have been savored, and the hot new cooking techniques have been tested? Leave this world behind and examine new ones!
Ellyn took us on an inter-planetary adventure with this dinner party theme – Pick Your Planet, Pick Your Course. Super-cool theme which became more challenging as we trained for the mission. Martian beverages? Venutian sweets? And what about Uranus??!
(You may be pleased to know that no one actually picked Uranus as their planet, so we were spared the juvenile jokes. Well, mostly.)
For this post’s musical accompaniment, we’re taking a classical turn.
Please enjoy Gustav Holst’s seven-movement orchestral suite, The Planets, performed by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and conducted by Leonard Bernstein. This version was remastered in 2017.
Appetizers – Kathleen and Karen – Jupiter: Gruyere-Thyme Cheese Ball
Dessert – Ilise and Ann – Venus: Galaxy Chocolate Mousse Cakes; Cinnamon Candy Apples
We wanted to honor the Red Planet by creating a layered presentation that would represent the ruddy tones of the Martian atmosphere. Shaken together the drink is reminiscent of an Old Fashioned. The addition of seltzer helps tamp down the sweetness and provides a refreshing sparkle to the drink.
David Bowie famously, melodiously, wondered, “Is there life on Mars?” That I don’t know, but can attest that the crowd in the living room got quite lively after a few mouthfuls of this magnificent Martian cocktail. Just take a look at this recipe (also available to download).
Recipe source: Gregory Beckett and Dan Dexter
- 2 ounces grenadine
- 2 ounces Patron Citronge (tequila based lime liqueur)
- 2 ounces Pamplemousse grapefruit liqueur
- 2 ounces Pama pomegranate liqueur
- 2 ounces Cointreau
- 4 ounces lemon juice (1/2 cup - from 3-4 lemons)
- 2 ounces Calvados apple brandy
- 12 ounces bourbon, divided in half (1 1/2 cups)
- 6 drops or more hot sauce (Tabasco or Cholula)
- Maraschino cherries
- Large columnar cocktail pitcher
- Large cocktail shaker
- 8 small rocks glasses
- Large ice cubes
- Squeeze the lemons and strain the juice.
- Layer the ingredients in the order shown (except for the hot sauce) in a large glass cocktail pitcher, using only half the total amount of bourbon for the layers. When you add the lemon juice it will ﬁnd its way to the middle, but the other ingredients should stay on top of each other as added.
- Add the drops of hot sauce; they will be suspended about midway through the layers.
- Add crushed ice to a large cocktail shaker along with the other half of the bourbon.
- Add one or two large ice cubes to each rocks glass.
- Spritz some seltzer in the bottom of each glass.
- After admiring the cool layers in the pitcher dump all of it into the cocktail shaker and shake well.
- Strain mixture into prepared rocks glasses. Top each with a maraschino cherry garnish and serve.
We were at a loss for a while, but finally settled on Jupiter for our planet. We chose it because it’s a giant planet with—as of January 2009—49 official, named moons and 14 more unofficial ones still under consideration. Though we wanted to make some reference to the Roman version of Zeus (talk about a master of sexual harassment!), we finally decided to settle for a simple representation of the planet itself. And, to stand for an edible Jupiter, a cheese ball. Ultimately we determined to flatten that ball on one side, presenting just the most recognizable side of the planet. We tried out two different cheese ball recipes—one using gruyère and thyme (recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit), the other smoked gouda (from Martha Stewart). We ultimately used both, but made our representation of Jupiter from the gruyère and thyme recipe. We used ground roasted and salted pepitas and ground toasted Chico almonds to create the coloring of the planet surface and some roasted red pepper slivers to create the Great Red Spot that is Jupiter’s most prominent feature.
Next we determined to make 49 moons of different sizes. They included craisins, stuffed olives, stuffed dates (stuffed with the gouda mix noted above), toasted tamari almonds, and spinach balls (no particular recipe—fresh spinach, kale, eggs, cheddar and mozzarella, panko, whatever). To place our planet and its moons in context, we added glow-in-the-dark stars and tiny lights.
Tell us what it takes, Ellyn:
Grease a round Jell-O mold using canola oil. Place on the bottom of the mold, alternating them, canned Oregon sweet black cherries and walnut halves. Do not discard the cherry juice from the can. Save it for making the Jell-O.
Make 7 to 8 packages of black cherry Jell-O according to the directions on the box, EXCEPT for one of the cold cups of water use the cherry juice from the can and fill the remainder of that 1 cup with Maneschewitz Concord grape wine. (Yes...that wine!)
Stir liquid Jell-O until all dissolved.
Using a turkey baster, gently just cover the black cherries and walnuts with the liquid Jell-O. Then refrigerate until Jell-O is firm. This will keep the cherries and walnuts in place when you add more liquid Jell-O. Otherwise, they will float around. Once firm, add another shallow layer of Jell-O (maybe and inch) on top of that and refrigerate again until firm. Then gently fill the mold and refrigerate until ready.
To de-mold, carefully run a very sharp knife along edges to loosen Jell-O from sides of mold. Soak mold briefly in warm water (put mold in sink and then fill gently with warm water around the mold). Then put serving platter for mold on top of the mold (what will be the bottom once unmolded). Flip and gently lift mold off of the hello. Voila! You will see the pattern of cherries and walnuts on top! Fill middle with parsley for decoration. Serve!
There will be a separate post detailing the creation of these colorful, decadent, space orbs but for now all you need to know is … YUM! Core elements: brownie base, rich chocolate mousse piled on top, gelatin-based glaze, and free-stylin’ fun with food coloring.
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