Gourmet Group 2007

I am busy preparing for my Gourmet Group luncheon on Saturday. I thought it would be fun to show you what I did last year, even though this year I am going in a very different direction. The Gourmet Group is a group of women who love good food and entertaining. The themes and presentation vary a lot, but there is always yummy food that we probably wouldn’t fix for ourselves on a regular basis, and a lot of creativity! Remember this Gourmet Group event?

Last August I was working with my friend and great cook, Kim. She was mainly in charge of the menu, and I headed up the aesthetics department. We settled on a Northwestern theme because although I have never set foot in the Northwest, Kim had just returned from a trip to Washington state and has relatives there that could help in determining appropriate cuisine and decor. (Hey, all of you Twilight fans, you could steal some of these ideas for a Twilight-themed dinner party, since it takes place in the Northwest.)

I made the invitations above, with real ferns behind the vellum, and sparkly cardstock that alluded to the mountains and river rock of the area.

We carried the ferns into the place settings, using them as placemats. We used river rocks in the candle displays, for name cards (or rather, rocks), and Kim made these cool napkin ring/bracelets, that were also their party favor.

Here is the menu, again over ferns. Lots of really good food–as long as you like salmon and blueberries.

The evening wasn’t without a hitch, however. My big frustration was that my vision was an outdoor meal. We did everything possible to make that happen in Phoenix in August. We scheduled the meal for 7:00 in the evening, bought misters and installed them around our patio and had fans to blow it all around. But since Phoenix was in the process of breaking our record of days over 110 degrees, all of our efforts just weren’t enough. So at about 6:30pm we abandoned the plants, fountain, and all of the white Japanese lanterns, and moved the tables indoors. It wasn’t pretty, but the couch ended up in the kitchen (almost) with just one walk way in and out. Of course, this put us behind on cooking, but despite my disappointment (which always comes from unfulfilled vision), the meal was a success.

Here is my pregnant (make-up less) self, relieved that the hard part is over, enjoying some blueberry frozen yogurt (made with Greek-style yogurt) and iced-chocolate chaud, with the girls. What you don’t see is the couch shoved up into the kitchen, where my husband stood to take the picture.

This is the recipe that they are still talking about a year later (and it was one that I made, believe it or not):

Smoked Salmon and Pesto Appetizer Cheesecake

2 teaspoons butter, room temperature

¼ cup fine dry breadcrumbs

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons finely minced onion

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

3 dashes hot sauce

3 eggs

5 or 6 ounces smoked salmon, flaked

3.4 cup basil pesto

¼ cup pine nuts


fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Rub butter or margarine over bottom and up 1 inch on sides of a 9 inch spring-form pan. Mix breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese and coat buttered area of pan with crumb mixture. Beat cream cheese, ricotta, remaining ½ cup Parmesan cheese, minced onion, salt, peppers and hot sauce in large bowl until light. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Gently stir in flaked Salmon. Spoon one-half of cheesecake mixture into prepared pan. Spoon pesto carefully over, leaving 1-inch edge. Spoon remaining salmon cheesecake mixture over and gently smooth top. Sprinkle with pine nuts. Bake 40-45 minutes or until center is just firm. Place on rack and cool. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or longer. Loosen cheesecake by running a small sharp knife around sides. Release sides of pan and place cheesecake on platter. Surround with crackers and garnish with fresh basil leaves.

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  1. dougandcheryl says

    I came to your blog from Mormon moms. I love it. I love parties and hosting and making things! People are always telling me that I’m crazy and that it would be easier to just buy things or have a party at one of the kid party places… but I love having projects! Your blog has so many great and cute ideas!

  2. That is right up my alley. Now I want to start a group like that!! I love this idea. If you ever have someone drop out or move away, then I want to join!! 🙂

  3. GwynnsGifts says

    Everything looks beautiful. I always enjoy hosting parties but I enjoy it even more when I can admire all the hard work someone else has put into a beautiful presentation.

  4. The Motherboard says

    We have added you to Mormon Mommy Blogs. Please add a link to us. Thanks.

  5. Welcome Cheryl! or is it Doug? I know just what you mean! I feel like I am giving my kids the gift of imagination, instead of just chaos and tokens. But easy isn’t usually my main objective. We are creating memories, right!

    Trish, you can totally be my partner, next year, if you want to drive to the other side of the world (I mean valley) each month. If not, I’m sure you could start up a group in your area. It is a ton of work, once a year, but other than that, it’s lots of fun!

    Gwynns, that is the beauty of the gourmet group…most of the time you just get to go and enjoy!

  6. Gorgeous, I wish I could entertain like that.

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