Saturday, July 17, 2010

Poker Night Initiation

When I posted the menu for Party #47 I knew some would scoff as I was once again preparing a meal of sandwiches.  Determined to make the most of this menu, I channeled my inner Barefoot Contessa and arose bright and early to bake fresh honey white bread.  With a beautiful bread rising in a pan, and the sweet smell of homemade cake filling the air, I thought this was going to be a fantastic and low maintenance day.  Enter the outside world.  

Since I do have a life outside this blog, errands often emerge at the most inopportune times.  It began with a trip to the Target pharmacy when a most unhappy woman answered all questions with 'how should I know.'  I felt the need to inquire as to whether or not pharmacy technician was an appropriate career goal.  Moving on to the grocery store.  With just a few ingredients in the cart the kids and I moved from one excruciating line to another before we were privy to the 'systems down' situation.  Yes, the grocery store could not check out customers.  Once this issue was resolved, I had the luck of being behind a customer demanding 10% discounts and a Manager insisting that unless CenterPoint energy was offering such discount it was not possible.  Enter a long sermon on the corrosion of customer service in today's retail establishments.  Once this ended, I had a sermon of my own on how visa logo cards were in fact credit cards.

One hour later I was home with my groceries and embarking on dip and frosting creations.  A bit later, the birthday boy arrived home from class to request a new addition to the evening's menu: the panini press.  Yes, it was his party and he would demand a pressed sandwich despite my insistence that avocado did not sound appetizing once heated on a press.  He concluded that avocado was high in cholesterol and therefore not necessary.  With the dips prepared and chilled, the chips bowled and the new battery-operated card shuffler wonderfully tested, I iced an ugly but love filled cake and primped just enough for a poker night.

Our first guest arrived with a large case of beer and his own coozie; wine deemed inappropriate for a poker night.  However as they continued to arrive we went up market with lovely bottles of wine, including an 11 year old cab which was promptly hidden behind the bar.  The men partook in chips and dip and I  awarded Ina the winner of the Martha Ina onion dip showdown but was there ever a doubt?
With the men finding their poker groove and Padma graciously keeping me company in the kitchen, I checked on our main sandwich components: chicken breasts and bacon.  It is quite scary how easy it is to cook a pound of bacon when you separate it on a sheet pan.  No splatters, no burns, just perfectly crisp bacon finished at the exact same time.  Sandwich construction was a bit more involved than I had anticipated.  The addition of the panini press unknowingly made me the starbucks of sandwich creation.  With orders like 'non-pressed avocado' or 'chicken breast pressed with avocado on the side' Padma and I discussed all things important and soon delivered sandwiches to the boys who, as it turned out, weren't exactly clear on how to play poker.

After devouring my own BLT, I made up for a lack of matches by lighting a piece of spaghetti on the gas stove and brought fire to the wax 3 and 9.   We sang, we offered well wishes, we cut the cake, and some became sorority sisters by requesting kailua and milk.   About an hour later the group slowly lost their steam and began to say goodbye.  And though they don't agree on the perfect sandwich, or the appropriateness of wine and cards, it seemed that a monthly poker group was on the horizon.  As my husband confessed a scotch buzz, and an exhausted mind he retired to bed but not before he thanked me for what was ultimately a great guy's birthday.  Who knew these could happen at home?

Cooking Notes:
Pan Fried Onion Dip: This was amazing, although I don't recommend eating large amounts the evening before a work event.  You will have onion breath I don't care what the sonicare promises.
Nigellas's Cake Icing: This cake icing was fantastic in its presentation as it dried smooth and beautifully.  I'll try and figure out why and repost!
Honey White Bread: The next time you are faced with a rainy day, make a loaf of bread.  However I must warn you on two things: 1) you will not achieve the thick crust of bakery bread with a home oven, and 2) there is no Joy in the bread recipes published in Joy of Cooking.  I recommend Nigella's brown bread for everyday, or Ina's Honey White for an evening when the wonderbread of our childhood is calling.

The Party in Numbers:
Parties Completed: 46
Weeks Before Deadline: 7
Bottles of Wine Consumed: 2.5
Justified Purchases: Poker Set and Card Shuffler

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