Is it possible to have a fun going away party? No matter how joyous you’d like to be, it is still difficult. One of our good friends left Los Angeles for the shiniest Apple in the land, and of course there was a dinner to celebrate his new beginnings. Great food, dancing, laughter, cocktails, memories. As part of the dinner’s round up, we contributed a number of dishes to the affair. We’ve done dinners for five and we’ve done dinners for 50, so this was a nice middle range of only 15. Our friend had a few requests, and everyone was happy to make that happen. We decided to rock out an appetizer, side dish and not one, but two desserts. Because that, friends, is how we roll. When you’re seeing a friend off, you want to be sure they don’t forget you, and how better to do that than with food!
This dinner was interesting because it was a sit down potluck. It can be difficult to make a meal cohesive when it’s a potluck, so with our appetizer and side dish, we went in a general direction sure to please most: chicken and potatoes. Spicy chicken wings and buttery, roasted potatoes to be exact. The desserts…well, this is where we just get so excited. The first was a batch of dense, rich chocolate brownies complete with an array of toppings and a Hummingbird cake. Actually we took an adapted Hummingbird Cake and flipped the switch on it. Surely not yo momma’s version. So here are our top three faves, from ‘our kitchen to yer’s’ as Paula Deen likes to say. And a hearty good luck, not goodbye, to our friend. May he do well in his ventures and never forget who makes some of the world’s best dishes!
Hot Wings – Serves 12 to 16
48 chicken wings and drumettes
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups hot sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Melt butter in a sauce pan on medium heat. Once melted, add remaining ingredients, stir well and turn heat down to a low simmer.
2. Pour oil in a deep fryer or a deep pan or pot. Once hot, add chicken pieces in small batches. Fry until browned, approximately 3-4 minutes.
3. Toss wings with sauce before serving. (Keep wings warm in an oven as the batches cook.)
Blue Cheese Sauce – Approximately 2 3/4 cups
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup blue cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Put all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk until well combined.
Not Your Momma’s Hummingbird Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Pecans – Serves 16 to 20 (adapted from MyRecipes)
3 cups plus 6 tablespoons cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 medium-large bananas, mashed
1 tablespoon dark rum (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Zest of 2 oranges, minced
1 cup carrots, grated
8 ounces can crushed pineapple, undrained
1. Whisk 3 cups flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a large bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, zest, applesauce, vanilla, rum and oil. Add to dry ingredients just until moistened.
3. Stir in mashed banana, carrots and pineapple. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
4. Spray 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with floured baking spray. Pour cake batter evenly into the cake pans about half way up.
5. Bake in a preheated oven at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cakes spring back upon touching. Cool in pans for at least 5-10 minutes. Remove layers from pans to finish cooling on wire racks.
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 tablespoons butter, softened
5-6 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon dark rum (optional)
1 tablespoon Cointreau
Juice of 1/4 orange
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1. Beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
2. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed just until smooth. Stir in Cointreau and rum followed by coconut flakes.
1/2 pound pecan halves or pieces
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Toast pecans slightly over medium flame just until they become fragrant.
2. Add butter and allow to melt over nuts. Toss to cover nuts with butter.
3. In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, sugar and salt. Pour evenly over pecans and toss again, so they are all covered in sugar.
4. Pour nuts onto a waxed paper lined baking sheet. Spread out in an even layer. Place in freezer to cool completely.
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