Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sunday Lunch at Home: Paella, Sangria, and Chocolate Mousse Duo

There are a few people on my list of to-invite-at-home-peeps and I decided that with the nice weather we've been having I would start inviting some. I handed out my invitations about a month ago, way before we found out that my husband, MR, would be working on that day. There wasn't much I could do about it and it was too late to cancel. Hosting a lunch party (and making sure it all goes perfectly) can be tricky business. But I figured that with advanced planning and organization, everything would go just fine.

All the food shopping was done during the week and stored.
The table setting I prepared with MR the night before. The colors and designs reflected our youth and playfulness. I decorated the center of the table with my favorite Marguerite flowers in pink color. And each table napkin was topped by a sea shell to represent our island roots.

I kicked off the lunch party with homemade Red Sangria and White Sangria to go with our appetizers.
The appetizers consisted of various tapas - Marinated Anchovies, Green Olives, Tapenade, Sundried Tomato Tapenade, Crab Meat Toasts (click here for the post), and Jamon Serrano. 

The highlight of the lunch was the Paella. I've been making Paella for several years now, but I think this one was the best one yet. It was generous in chicken pieces, pork cubes, shrimps, gambas, seafood, chorizo, vegetables, and rice. And topped with lots of lemon slices for an additional zing. I heard my guests go ohhh and ahhh all the way from the kitchen and go completely silent when it was time to eat. LOL. You know something is good when one prefers to be busy eating than talking!

Next up was the Cheese Platter. I served 4 of the cheeses I bought at the Fromagerie de Benestroff (click here for the post), accompanied by a Simple Green Salad.

The Chocolate Mousse Duo was not my original choice for dessert today. I had something way more complicated in mind, but when I found out MR wouldn't be here to help me on D-Day, I knew I had to change this. The Paella already required to spend a lot of time going back and forth to the kitchen to stir and check if it was done. So I wanted the dessert to be stress-free, something I could make ahead that would allow me to sit down and enjoy my meal. At the last minute, I thought I'd take advantage of the beautiful and delicious strawberries the season has brought in and I made a simple Fresh Strawberry Salad topped by a mint leaf. It was naturally sweet and refreshing!

It took me several days to come up with the final dessert product. I wanted to make a Chocolate Mousse, but I also wanted to work on it. Give it a special touch. It was a risk, but it paid off. I, first, mixed crushed Crepe Dentelle with Nutella and put some on the bottom of the ramekin. This brought a crispy texture to the mousse, which was highly appreciated. Then I put a layer of dark chocolate mousse. On top, I put a layer of white chocolate mousse. While I was confident about the turn-out of the dark chocolate mousse, I was slightly hesitant about the white chocolate mousse. This was my first time to make some and I feared it wouldn't take and harden, but thankfully it did. To bring out color, I placed a single raspberry in the middle and at the last minute I sprinkled with chocolate shavings. This was beautiful and more importantly, sinfully delicious!

The tricky part of hosting a lunch / dinner for me is to exude confidence, while trying to contain my fears and worries. I want everything to be perfect. My husband has the ability to let things go, especially when it's tiny and not life-affecting; I can't. If something doesn't go my way, I will go on for hours mentally kicking myself. By the end of the meal, at the moment I am done serving coffee, I can literally feel a huge breath of relief leave my body. LOL. It's a challenge and although I am tough on myself, I love it!!!


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