March 19, 2012

A Fort Worth Bridal Celebration

The Bridal Shower

We attended Catherine's bridal shower yesterday afternoon. The sky was overcast, that infamous Texas wind was blowing, creating a beautiful picture of bluebonnets bending in the fields and the Bradford Pear trees shedding their blossoms, as they cast their cares over the lawns. It was a lovely day spent in Fort Worth at the mission style home of the hostess. We talked about the wedding plans, caught up with each other's daily lives, sipped Chardonnay and played fun bridal shower games. We were divided into teams and dressed our chosen "pretend bride" in a gown of Charmin' tissue and crepe paper.  We guessed the bride's favorite things and learned more about her favorite likes, such as movies, foods, music, etc. The food was incredible and if you are needing good recipes for a family gathering, put these on your list....absolutely incredible!

Tarragon Chicken Salad Tea Sandwiches
4 cups of roasted and shredded chicken
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon (or more to taste)
1/2 cup chopped red grapes
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sliced whole wheat bread, for sandwiches

In a medium bowl mix chicken, mayonnaise, sour cream, and tarragon until well combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Fold in grapes and pecans. Chill for at least one hour. Check seasoning again and adjust, if desired. The chicken salad can be made at least 24 hours in advance. Scoop chicken salad onto a slice of bread. Top with another slice of bread. Cut off crusts, then cut sandwich into your desired shapes of rectangles, triangles, or rounds!

Tiramisu Cupcakes
1 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup milk
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
3 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
1 cup sugar
Coffee-Marsala Syrup
Mascarpone Frosting
Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Heat milk and vanilla-bean pod and seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat just until bubbles appear around the edge. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter until melted, and let stand 15 minutes. Strain milk mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, and discard vanilla-bean pod.
With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk together whole eggs, yolks, and sugar. Set mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk by hand until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm, about 6 minutes. Remove bowl from heat. With an electric mixer on high speed, whisk until mixture is fluffy, pale yellow, and thick enough to hold a ribbon on the surface for several seconds when whisk is lifted.
Gently but thoroughly fold flour mixture into the egg mixture in three batches; stir 1/2 cup batter into the strained milk mixture to thicken, then fold milk mixture into the remaining batter until just combined.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until centers are completely set and edges are light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.
To finish, brush tops of cupcakes evenly with coffee-marsala syrup; repeat until all syrup has been used. Allow cupcakes to absorb liquid 30 minutes. Dollop frosting onto cupcakes; refrigerate up to overnight in airtight containers. Dust generously with cocoa powder just before serving.

Coffee Marsala Syrup
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly brewed very strong coffee (or espresso)
1 ounce Marsala
1/4 cup sugar

Stir together coffee, Marsala, and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Let cool.

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