You realize of course that I’m writing this cooking blog for me, forcing myself to create a bunch of menus that I can calmly choose from when I invite friends over and not go into my usual OMG what- will-I-cook mode. So when I offered my house for a reception, including something to eat, after a Red Hen Press poetry reading at the Annenberg Beach Center, I calmly thought I’d try a version of my Christmas Buffet. This zen-like approach lasted for about five minutes. Then I started obsessing on whether I should use plastic glasses for wine or get out 35 wine glasses to polish (all cloudy because of hard water). Then I wondered what do people really want to eat at that hour since the reading would be at 6:30 and the reception wouldn’t start until almost eight.
So I did what I always do when I have a lot of people coming over and no time to cook. I went to Costco. I bought a ham, smoked salmon, a big fruit salad, cheese, wine, bread and crackers, and a huge container of Biscotti. After the reading, I dashed home during the Q & A session and put everything out on the table, R. opened the wine, my friend Nicki lit all the candles (candles everywhere because the house was kind of a mess) and then because it was a cool night, I lit a fire.
The guests were wonderful and fun and it turned into a very cozy, interesting party; all the food was eaten and no one seemed to have a problem with plastic wine glasses.
The Menu: (from Costco):
2 large slabs of smoked salmon
1 ready-made fruit salad
3 kinds of cheese
6 bottles of Toasted Head Chardonnay (plus a few bottles of random reds and sparkling water)
Biscotti and a bowl of large strawberries for dessert
(Add cream cheese, capers, sliced lemons on the side, crackers for the cheese and various breads, including dark or rye cocktail bread for the salmon, and you have enough food to feed over thirty people. And be sure to invite some writers and poets.)