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Pastry Queen Parties

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Entertaining Friends and Family, Texas Style

Written by Rebecca RatherAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Rebecca Rather and Alison OresmanAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Alison Oresman

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List Price: $16.99

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On Sale: May 25, 2011
Pages: 256 | ISBN: 978-1-60774-136-7
Published by : Ten Speed Press Ten Speed Press
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
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Synopsis|Excerpt|Table of Contents

Synopsis

No one captures big-hearted, big-hatted Texas hospitality like Rebecca Rather. In Pastry Queen Parties, her eagerly awaited third book, Rebecca celebrates her home state's love of good company and great food. Traversing the Lone Star state's rich culinary landscape, Rebecca offers up a bevy of revel-ready menus for:

• A West Texas ranch-style supper
• Tex-Mex hacienda dining in San Antonio
• A Gulf Coast summer beach bonanza
• A small town homecoming picnic
• A big city cocktail party
• A sweet and sunny Hill Country garden party

More than 100 recipes for starters, sides, main dishes, desserts, and drinks showcase Rebecca's bold and bounteous style of cooking. There's mouth-watering inspiration on every page: dig into a West Texas—sized plate of Beer-Braised Short Ribs, Green Tomato Macaroni and Cheese, and Butter Beans and Mixed Greens; or savor soul food San Antonio style with heaping helpings of Rosa' s Red Posole and Fiesta Chiles Rellenos. But save room for one of Rebecca's justly famous desserts: maybe a piece of that sky-high Giant Chocolate Cake with Cowboy Coffee Frosting, or a couple of Chubby's White Pralines, or–hey, those S'mores Cupcakes look pretty great . . . .

Plentiful stories and useful cooking and entertaining tips from Rebecca and other great Texas hosts and hostesses, a roster of "party express" recipes to pull together quickly, and more than 100 gorgeous scenic and food photos from across the state, make Pastry Queen Parties an irresistible invitation to do it up big, Lone Star style.

Excerpt

Chapter one

Hill Country Garden Party

Hill Country folks will seize upon the smallest of excuses to throw a party. Take Wurstfest, a ten-day salute to sausage held every October in the Hill Country town of New Braunfels. It starts when the town's dignitaries stand on stage and simultaneously bite on a long strand of linked sausage.

Or the annual weekend party hosted at the Johnson City ranch of Texas tycoon Red McCombs, who built a fortune investing in oil, automobiles, and airwaves. It starts with a barbecue and ends with a lively auction of Texas longhorns, an impressive-looking but unpractical breed that has become a status symbol for wealthy weekend ranchers.

Then there's Camey Stewart, who lives on a gorgeous spread just outside of Fredericksburg. Her annual Bluebonnet Bash to celebrate the splendid blossoming of the state flower every spring has grown into what must be one of the area's biggest potlucks. She sets up an outdoor table that stretches as far as the eye can see. Camey provides the meat, and guests–almost 200 showed up last year–bring a side dish and a chair.

For many in the Hill Country, parties are an inevitable part of the landscape, much like the swelling hills, breathtaking vistas, and stands of old oaks that define the area. Perhaps our hearty appetite for entertaining grows out of the isolation of spread-out country living, where the closest neighbor often is far from shouting distance away. Maybe it's just that we are a hospitable lot–thriving on connections, a fine story well told, and good food shared. Whatever it is, my Hill Country compatriots party often, and I'm always impressed with the sense of fun and creativity that they bring to the table.

Bobby Watson, who sells commercial kitchen equipment for a living, built his ranch home outside of Fredericksburg with parties in mind. "We wanted a great big kitchen with a bedroom attached," he says. Bobby and his wife, Linda, stage an annual Fourth of July celebration that starts July 3 with a well-stocked bar and a passel of friends to help decorate a float for the annual Fredericksburg Independence Day Parade. The party continues the next day when thirty-five or so of their closest friends squeeze onto the brightly festooned float and parade through the center of town, Bloody Marys and beers in hand. Then it's back to the Watson house for a down-home lunch with barbecue, pork and beans, coleslaw, and potato salad. It doesn't end there. After a nap and a swim, they head out to the fairgrounds for the fireworks display, grills, folding tables and chairs, tablecloths, and candles in tow. There, they enjoy an all-American cookout, with hot dogs, hamburgers, peach cobbler, and chocolate cake.

Local ranchers aren't the only ones drawn into the Hill Country partying spirit. Art teacher Paige Conn, who lives near the center of Fredericksburg, joined a monthly supper club with twelve friends, and the results have been hilarious. Themes have ranged from Barbie and Ken, with Paige and husband, Blaine, showing up as Mermaid Barbie and Captain Ken; Survivor, with outdoor games in the couple's backyard; and a Pure Polyester Party, where guests came in vintage 1970s clothing. "We dress up, we have drinks and appetizers, and the evening takes its course," says Paige. The couples take turns hosting, and the hosts are in charge of the food.

The Hill Country's mild year-round temperatures mean that outdoor parties aren't just for spring and summer. Even in the middle of December, evenings can be warm enough for alfresco entertaining.

Navajo Grill chef-owner Josh Raymer recalls the two-wheeled progressive dinners he organized as a young bachelor. They started with bicycle barhopping and continued as he and his friends pedaled from one house to the next, feasting on a single course at each stop. Unlike much of the surrounding Hill Country, Fredericksburg's flat terrain and relatively small size make it ideal for bicycle entertaining.

Mary and Marshall Cunningham host casual dinner parties just about every week at their Wild Rock Ranch, and they head out to friends' homes for dinner almost as often.

"This is one of the friendliest areas I've ever seen," says Mary, who grew up in Louisiana and moved to Texas with her family seven years ago. In the Hill Country, regular entertaining begets even more.

"At every party you get to meet new people, and then you want them to meet some people that you already know, and it goes round and round," she says. The parties are always casual, with guests likely to show up in jeans and boots, and everyone pitching in with cooking and cleanup. The food is simple at the Cunninghams', often grilled game and something from the garden. Mary asks what her friends have growing and tells them to bring whatever they have. Food is served buffet style and leftovers go straight to the animals (they have a menagerie that includes pigs and donkeys), so there's not a lot of cleanup.

About four times a year, the Cunninghams throw big parties, with live music–they always hire local bands–and dancing on a stage glittering with lights hung from cedar poles. For parties big or small, Mary doesn't bother with a lot of extra decorating when she entertains.

"In the spring we have the wildflowers, in summertime flowers are everywhere and we have a million stars in the sky. When the whole sky is lit up there's not a lot of need for decorating."


Mini Okra Pancakes

After handing guests a drink, I often like to offer them a special morsel of food to perk up their taste buds and to make everyone feel at home. My friend and Austin farmer extraordinaire Carol Anne Sayle shared this recipe, and it warmed my southern gal's heart. (For skeptics, these little pancakes do not suffer from the slime factor some associate with okra.)

I served these at my annual garden party for chefs and friends, and people couldn't get enough. The trick is to serve them hot off the griddle, so make sure you have someone to fry them in a skillet, and someone else to pass them around while they're still hot. For this kind of job, I often enlist a shy guest or two. It keeps them busy, and frees them from the stress of having to make small talk. I've found that people will eat as many of these as they can get, but one or two per person is plenty and when they're gone, they're gone. (The recipe doubles easily if you're serving a crowd, though.)

I have added a little touch of my own to Carol Anne's recipe. My garden was producing way more jalapeños than I could manage, so I decided to pickle them. I tossed a few chopped, pickled chiles into Carol Anne' s pancakes and loved the result. You can leave them out if you like.

Serves 8 as an appetizer; about twenty-four 2-inch pancakes


3/4 cup cornmeal (preferably stone-ground)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup buttermilk, plus more if needed

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 cups fresh okra, stemmed and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces, or 1 (8-ounce) package frozen sliced okra, thawed

1/4 cup drained, chopped pickled jalapeño chiles (page 254, or use a store-bought version)

2 small onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice

4 cloves garlic, minced


Mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and black pepper together in a bowl, along with the cayenne pepper if desired. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, the 1 cup buttermilk, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and the mustard. Sprinkle the chopped okra evenly with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the okra, pickled jalapeños, onions, and garlic to the egg mixture and stir until combined. Add the cornmeal mixture and stir lightly until just combined. The dough should resemble a thin pancake batter. If it seems too thick, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of buttermilk.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet set over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, drop in 2 heaping tablespoons batter per pancake, leaving room between pancakes so they don't touch. Cook the pancakes, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 11/2 minutes per side. Serve immediately.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

chapter one Hill Country Garden Party 5

Mini Okra Pancakes 8

High’s Hummus with Pita Crisps 9

Sweet-and-Sour Lamb Ribs 11

Rebecca’s Table Caprese Salad 12

Sidebar: Party Tips from a Legendary Host 13

Fresh Corn and Pea Salad 14

Rustic Bread Salad 17

Sidebar: Artisan Cheesemaker Chrissy Omo 18

Roasted Beet Salad with Spicy Maple Pecans and Chrissy’s Fresh Chèvre 19

Watermelon Salads with Tequila-Lime Dressing 23

Avocado-Cucumber Soup 25

Grilled Quail Salad 27

Garden Tomato Lasagna with Pesto 30

Three Pigs Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Candied Carrots 33

Savory Smoked Tomato-Asiago Scones 35

Sidebar: Fred’s Party 36

Belted Galloway Ice Cream Sandwiches 38

Figgy-topped Pound Cakes 40

Plum Tart 43

Kimmie Cookies 45

Garden Party Cocktails 47



chapter two gulf coast beach bash 49

Chicken-fried Shrimp 52

Campechana 53

Marinated Crab Claw Cocktail 55

White Balsamic-Jicama Slaw 57

Seafood Gumbo 58

Farmstand Tomato Soup with Arugula Pesto 61

Sidebar: Gulf Coast Entertaining, Rockport Style 63

Cajun Catfish Tacos with Chipotle Mayonnaise 64

Champagne-marinated Shrimp Boil 67

Crab in Shells 68

Sidebar: Beach House Memories 70

Big Easy Whole Flounder 73

One-Pot Cajun New Potatoes 75

Lemony Artichokes au Gratin 76

Pineapple Bundt Cake 77

Sidebar: Beachside Frozen Pops 78

Cocoa Cloud Icebox Pies 81

Vanilla Sand Dollar Cookies 83

S’mores Cupcakes 85

Watermelon Mojitos 87



chapter three homecoming 89

Deviled Eggs 93

Layered Salad in a Jar 95

You Can Go Home Again Potato Salad 96

Curried Jasmine Rice Salad 97

Double-dipped Buttermilk Fried Chicken 99

Slow-baked Brisket with Bourbon Mustard Barbecue Sauce 101

Ralph’s Six Rivers Tuna with Honey Grain Rolls 104

Sidebar: The Six Rivers Ride 106

Gangy’s Spoon Bread 109

Butternut Squash Bread 110

Walnut Baked Beans 113

Butterscotch Brownies with Brown Sugar Butter Icing 115

Peach-Almond Bars 117

Hostess-with-the-Mostest Cupcakes 119

Sidebar: Tailgating 121

White Chocolate Cake with Spiky Meringue Frosting 122

Peanut Butter and Jam Cake 124

Syrup Cake 126

Graham Cracker-Pecan Crunch 127

Grandma Olfers’s Malted Mocha Bars 128

Homecoming Iced Tea 131



chapter four San Antonio Tex-Mex Fiesta 133

Pork and Tomatillo Quesadillas with Ancho Dipping Salsa 135

Queso 138

Rosa’s Red Posole 140

Lime Soup 143

Fiesta Chiles Rellenos 145

Sidebar: Fiesta 147

Chicken with Banana-Basil Mole 148

Beans a la Charra 150

Cheese Enchiladas with Chile Gravy 152

Rib-eye Fajitas on the Grill 155

El Rancho de la Reina Casserole 156

Puffy Tacos with Bison Chili 158

Rosa’s Mexican Rice and San Antonio Refried Beans 161

Sidebar: Loncito’s Food Salon 163

Cinnamon Crescents 165

Pequeño Chocolate-Pecan Tartlets 166

Chubby’s White Pralines 168

Key Lime-Coconut Cream Cake 171

Corona Sorbet 173

Silver Bullet Margaritas 175

White Sangria 175



chapter five Big-City cocktail party 177

Savory Double Cheese Slice-and-Bake Cookies 179

Polenta Rounds with Cheese, Chive Pesto, and Red Pepper 181

Sidebar: Soignée soirees 182

Tuna Spoons 183

Party-in-a-Shot-Glass Oyster Shooters 185

Wild Mushroom Turnovers 187

Sidebar: Better All the Time 189

Lemon-Ginger Chicken Canapés 190

Homemade Potato Chips 192

Cheddar Soup Cups 195

Avocado Pancakes with Crème Fraîche and Trout Roe 197

Mary’s Crayfish Pies 199

Sidebar: The Buddy System 201

Lemongrass-skewered Quail Sausage 203

Lemon-Chip Cookies 205

Chile Crinkle Cookies 206

Chocolate Mousse Cookies Two Ways 207

Black-and-White Bars 208

Big-City Cocktails 211



chapter six West Texas dinner party 213

El Rancho Chopped Salad with Cornbread Croutons and Creamy Poblano Dressing 217

Iceberg Wedge with Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing 219

Mary Jane’s Bean Pot Soup 220

Not Really Son-of-a-Bitch Stew 221

Beer-braised Short Ribs 222

Blue Javalina Grilled Lamb with Quinoa Pilaf 225

Chicken-fried Steak 227

Stuffed Bandera Quail with Pepper Glaze 229

Green Tomato Macaroni and Cheese 231

Sidebar: Party Maestro Don Strange 233

Achiote-seared Chickpeas 234

Butter Beans and Mixed Greens 237

Sweet Potato Biscuits 239

Bud’s Mashed Potato-Creamed Corn Casserole 240

Jalapeño Cornbread with Cheese, Corn, and Arugula 241

Giant Chocolate Cake with Cowboy Coffee Frosting 243

Sohnne’s Mama’s Double-Decker Blackberry Cobbler 247

Drunken Brandy-Peach Bread Pudding 248

Maple-Pecan Butter Thins 251

Top-Shelf Tea 252

Smoke Old-Fashioned 253



Basics and Sources 254

Acknowledgments 256

Index 258
Rebecca Rather|Alison Oresman

About Rebecca Rather

Rebecca Rather - Pastry Queen Parties

Photo © Laurie Smith

IACP award-winning author Rebecca Rather is the chef-owner of the renowned Rather Sweet Bakery and Café in the Texas Hill Country town of Fredericksburg, where she cultivates the gracious life with plenty of parties. Formerly a caterer, she has planned and cooked for hundreds of events throughout Texas and across the country. Rebecca has been featured in Texas Monthly, Gourmet, Ladies’ Home Journal, Food & Wine, Southern Living, Saveur, and O, the Oprah Magazine. Her previous books include The Pastry Queen and The Pastry Queen Christmas.

About Alison Oresman

Alison Oresman - Pastry Queen Parties

Photo © Laurie Smith

Alison Oresman has been a journalist for more than twenty years, writing and editing for newspapers in Wyoming, Florida, and Washington State. Her weekly columns as a restaurant critic have been featured in Miami and Seattle. Alison coauthored the IACP award-winning The Pastry Queen Christmas with Rebecca; this is their third book together.

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