I ‘ve recently become a partner with DIY Weddings Magazine and am now writing a wedding catering advice column 4 times a year. This issue of Lowcountry Weekly features my first column originally published in December 2012 along with food photography by the incomparable Susan DeLoach!
Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials! With the right vendors and planning, you can have the wedding and reception you’ve always dreamed about.
Planning your wedding reception is an exciting experience! Having a caterer that you have complete confidence in to guide you throughout the planning process and execution of your wedding celebration is priceless. Most caterers have endless resources at their fingertips. They are available to assist you with every aspect of your wedding from exceptional food to location selection, event planners, bar service, linens, china, flowers, photography and entertainment. The success of every wedding depends greatly on the team of professionals chosen to bring it all to life.
While you certainly do need to hire a caterer for your wedding reception, you can easily prepare the food for smaller nuptial events. A great example is your bridal luncheon! My recipes in this issue have all of the makings for a fun and festive luncheon and everything can be prepared a day or two ahead of time!
I recently catered a bridesmaid’s luncheon where the mother of the bride had purchased charms for her daughter’s friends as bridesmaid’s gifts. She had them individually tied with ribbon and inserted in between the layers of a cake. At the luncheon, each bridesmaid pulled a ribbon from the cake and found her charm. Each charm represented something different. For example, an anchor symbolized a ‘life of stability’ and a star promised that a ‘wish will be granted.’ A butterfly ensured ‘eternal beauty,’ a high heel shoe promised a ‘life of style and fashion’ and a treble clef pledged a ‘life of harmony.’ FUN! I revamped the cake idea by using an easy to make tunnel cake in a Bundt pan. This way, the charms can be laid across the top of the cake and they won’t get covered in frosting. Besides being a fun and unique idea, the cake is delicious!
Pull out your grandmother’s antique silver, your mother’s wedding china, purchase some inexpensive floral handkerchiefs and invite your girlfriends over for a beautiful luncheon lovingly prepared by the bride. What a special treat!
Begin the festivities by offering your guests a Pink Lemonade Spritzer. You will need to freeze the fruit-filled lemonade ice cubes at least 24 hours before the event. Quantities are hard to determine because ice cube trays come in all sorts of shapes and sizes these days. Plan on 3 to 4 lemonade cubes per guest. Save any extra pink lemonade for the flower girl!
Crispy Phyllo Wrapped Asparagus with Honey-Mustard Dipping Sauce is a great hors d’oeuvre to serve while your guests are gathering. You can make them a day or two ahead of time and reheat them in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes before serving. To be perfectly honest, they’re actually crispier when they’ve been reheated!
Lunch is served buffet-style. Plates, forks and napkins are placed at the end of the table and the Fruity Blackberry Salad, Shrimp Remoulade and Petite Cocktail Muffins are arranged so that guests may serve themselves. I like to use cosmo glasses for the Shrimp Remoulade but everything can easily be served on a luncheon plate.
The Chocolate-Raspberry Charm Cake can be used as the centerpiece or can be displayed on the buffet. When dessert is served, each bridesmaid will take home a happy reminder of a delicious luncheon from your special day!
Pink Lemonade Spritzers
This is an easy and fun recipe for a festive luncheon! Quantities will need to be determined depending on the size of the ice cube trays and the number of guests. One bottle of wine will fill approximately 5 glasses.
Pink lemonade, prepared from dry mix (Country Time, Crystal Light, Kool-Aid)
Fresh mint leaves
Pinot grigio or ginger ale, chilled
To make the ice cubes: Pour lemonade into individual ice cube trays; filling about ¾ full. Insert one or two raspberries and blueberries in each cube, then add a small piece of fresh mint. Freeze for 24 hours or until frozen solid. To make the spritzers: Place 3 or 4 fruit-filled lemonade ice cubes in a wine glass. Top with pinot grigio or ginger ale to cover. Serve immediately.
Crispy Phyllo Wrapped Asparagus with Honey-Mustard Dipping Sauce
These are a great make-ahead appetizer! They’re even better when they’re reheated.
For the phyllo wrapped asparagus:
½ (16-ounce) package frozen phyllo dough
1 stick butter, melted
24 slices of thinly sliced ham
1 bunch green asparagus, trimmed (24 pieces)
2-3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
For the dipping sauce:
¾ cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons mustard
½ teaspoon lemon juice
Dash hot sauce, optional
Thaw phyllo dough in refrigerator, according to package directions. (You will not use it all.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, honey, mustard, lemon juice and hot sauce. Reserve until ready to serve. Remove phyllo dough from package and place a barely damp paper towel over it to keep it from drying out. Remove one sheet of dough and lay it on your work surface; brush with a thin layer of melted butter. Place another sheet of dough on top and repeat until you have 3 layers. Using a sharp knife, divide the phyllo into 4 equal strips and then slice down the center so that you have 8 rectangles. Place a slice of ham on each rectangle. Position a stalk of the asparagus on the bottom edge of each slice of ham and roll it up. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, seam side down, making sure that the rolls do not touch each other. Repeat, until you have 24 pieces. Brush the outside of the rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until rolls are golden brown and crispy. Serve hot with the dipping sauce. To reheat, place on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until crispy. Serves 8 to 12.
Fruity Blackberry Salad with Blackberry-Basil Vinaigrette
You can use any combination of fresh fruit and berries for this delightful and refreshing salad!
For the vinaigrette:
5 tablespoons seedless blackberry preserves
¼ cup red wine vinegar
6 fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup vegetable oil
For the salad:
8 cups mixed salad greens
1½ cups sliced mango
1½ cups pink grapefruit segments
4 kiwi, peeled and sliced
2 cups fresh blackberries
½ cup pomegranate arils
Place preserves, vinegar, basil, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender. Pulse until blended. With blender running, pour vegetable oil through lid in a slow, steady stream; process until smooth. Place greens in a salad bowl. Toss with vinaigrette to coat. Add fruit and toss lightly. Serves 8.
Remoulade is a mayonnaise-based sauce with pickles, mustard, herbs and chopped hard-boiled eggs. Sometimes capers are added.
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 stalks celery, chopped
½ cup red onion, finely chopped
6 hard-boiled eggs, diced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¾-1 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing (Miracle Whip)
3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Fresh lettuce leaves
Cook shrimp in boiling water until just pink; drain and refrigerate until chilled. Cut larger shrimp into bite-sized pieces. Place shrimp in a large bowl. Add celery, red onion, boiled eggs, mustard, mayonnaise, pickle relish and parsley; mix well. Cover and chill until ready to serve. To serve, arrange lettuce leaves on a dish or platter; top with shrimp mixture. Serves 8 to 10.
Petite Cocktail Muffins
I have made thousands of these yummy muffins! They’re great with salads!
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon chopped chives
1 cup self-rising flour
½ cup sour cream
Spray two miniature 12-cup muffin pans with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Remove from heat and add cheese and chives; stir until cheese is melted. Add flour and sour cream; mix well. Batter will be stiff. Divide batter evenly into miniature muffin pans. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until muffins are golden and cooked through. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack. Serves 10 to 12.
Chocolate-Raspberry Charm Cake
The center of this cake is a delicious raspberry-scented cream cheese. What a fun idea for a charm cake! Simple to prepare, too!
1 (18.25-ounce) package dark chocolate cake mix
Eggs, water and vegetable oil, according to package directions
For the filling:
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam or preserves
For the chocolate glaze:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
Grease and flour a Bundt cake pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, prepare cake mix according to package directions. In a separate mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, jam and eggs; mix until smooth. Pour cake batter evenly into prepared pan, reserving 1½ cups of the batter. Spoon cream cheese mixture over center of cake batter. Spoon reserved batter over cream cheese mixture; covering completely. Bake cake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes; then remove from pan and place on a wire rack until completely cooled. Heat whipping cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat just until cream begins to steam. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate, stirring until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is dark. Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Place cake on a cake stand or platter and drizzle with warm chocolate mixture. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. To serve: Place charms in the center of the cake letting ribbon drape down the sides. Fill the center of the cake with fresh raspberries; garnish with fresh raspberries. Serves 12.
The writer owns Catering by Debbi Covington and is the author of two cookbooks, Celebrate Everything! and Dining Under the Carolina Moon. Debbi’s website address is www.cateringbydebbicovington.com. She may be reached at 525-0350 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.