Whether you enjoy or despise cold weather, a glamorous and sparkly winter-themed cocktail party is a fabulous idea! We recruited famed designer David Meister and amazing chef Graham Dodd to help us create the ultimate winter soiree, a Sequins and Snowflakes Party!
Both gentlemen are super-experienced in the art of creating memorable and stylish masterpieces, both culinary and artistic.
Here is a bit of scoop on our esteemed panelists:
A popular television personality, David Meister has appeared on numerous news and entertainment programs, including Access Hollywood, the Today Show, The Insider, TV Guide’s The Fashion Team, E! That Morning Show, Today in LA, and Hollyscoop. Meister’s red-carpet-worthy fashions have graced the pages of InStyle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, O: The Oprah Magazine, People, More, and Glamour, and he has personally been profiled in Angeleno, LA Confidential, and WWD.
Graham Dodds is Central 214′s award winning Executive Chef, known for his passion for using locally sourced ingredients for farm to table cooking. His first national exposure was in Bon Appétit magazine in December, 2009. He frequently appears on morning shows on local TV stations promoting local sourcing and his recipes and has given cooking classes at Market Street, The Farmers Market and the State Fair. He is on several “top lists” in the Zagat guide for Dallas, including “food” and “decor”.
I first spoke to David Meister regarding his general techniques in creating an amazing party. Of course, it all starts with a theme.
“My partner and I usually host a party at one of our two homes. The theme of our holiday party in Palm Springs is always white, silver and glass. We accent with over-sized black bows. When we celebrate in LA, the theme is black. Everything is black. Black shine and black matte with gunmetal. I’m not a traditional person so I think that when decorating it is important to start from your space and your personal taste,” he advised.
In terms of party decor, David recommends keeping your theme simple and consistent. For this party, we are suggesting a combination of black, white, and silver sparkle. This allows the hostess to collect items to enhance the decor as needed. “Every year we keep the theme but add to it. We make small changes here and there. We tend to find these additions in abstract places. We do change food and drink choices every year but the theme is consistent. It’s really all about the presentation. Maybe we serve sushi one year in Palm Springs but we are still using silver or white serving trays to keep with the theme. Decorations don’t have to be expensive. You would be surprised what you can do with a can of silver spray paint. You have to be creative but you certainly don’t have to spend a fortune. We found these illuminated disco balls that float in the pool a couple years ago. They were around $20 each but I can’t remember where we found them. It just goes to show that you can find inexpensive things and turn them into a fun decoration,” David stated.
Another important gem of advice: allow yourself to enjoy the party! If you keep things simple, you won’t be trapped in the kitchen all night! “We always have a bartender. As a host, you want to be able to spend as much time with your guests as possible and not worry about filling drinks! We typically have a drink menu with 3 or 4 signature cocktails. We also serve wine and champagne,” Meister said.
Time with guests is truly the ultimate gift, according to David. “We don’t play games or make anyone wear a name tag. As guests arrive we like to greet them individually. If there is ever a person attending who doesn’t know anyone we make sure to introduce them to other guests. In the end people are only going to remember three things, the food, the drink and most importantly, the company.”
A few items for creating David’s sparkling decor scheme? Try these:
I next spoke to Executive Chef Graham Dodds to get some ideas on unique and fabulous party foods to serve at our Sequins and Snowflakes soiree. He offered some of his favorite and most delicious menu ideas from his repertoire!
For starters, he suggested a simple, healthy, and yummy kale salad.
1 large handful of Tuscan (black) kale, stem removed and torn into pieces
1 T ricotta salata, grated
2 T artichoke vin (separate recipe)
1 watermelon radish, sliced julienne
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Heat large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add canola-olive oil blend until it coats the bottom of the pan. Once oil is hot, add kale- careful- you may want to stand back as it will splatter oil sometimes. Once it wilts slightly, after 10-15 seconds add the artichoke vin- try not to get too much of the lemon and oil with the artichoke or the salad can become greasy. Toss in the watermelon radish and season to taste, careful not to use too much salt as the ricotta salata is slightly salty. Sprinkle the ricotta salata over the kale and serve.
His next idea is actually a traditional British party food loved by many.
Yield: 6 eggs
About 3/4 pounds banger sausage meat (removed from casing if store bought)
Chopped thyme leaves
1 1/4 oz Dijon
1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika Caliente
1 bunch chives, sliced thin
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Seasoned flour as needed
1 cup milk
3 cups of Panko
Place six of the eggs in large pot and cover with water. Add salt to taste and a splash of sherry vinegar.
Bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat for 12 minutes.
Remove eggs and place them under cold running water for 10-15 minutes.
Put sausage in food processor with 6 oz water and pulse 6 times.
Turn into a bowl and add thyme, mustard, smoked paprika, chives and season with salt and pepper. Mixuntil combined. Divide into 6 balls- about 2 oz a piece. Place between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and flatten into a circle.
Place egg in middle of sausage circle and wrap meat around egg-press the edges to seal.
Chill 20 minutes.
Mix remaining two raw eggs with milk.
Dredge sausage wrapped eggs in seasoned flour.
Dip into milk and egg mixture.
Roll in breadcrumbs making sure it is completely coated.
Fry the eggs at 375 degrees for 2 minutes.
Finish in 375 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.
Dodds’ final suggestion is a fabulously awesome dessert!
Chocolate Pot de Creme
1 1/4 cups half-and-half
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon hazelnut-flavored liqueur, such as Frangelico (optional)
Whipped cream, for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bring half-and-half just to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from heat; add chocolate and sugar. Let stand 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, stir together yolks, vanilla, cocoa, salt, and liqueur if desired. With a fork, stir chocolate mixture until smooth, then gradually stir into yolk mixture. Pour through a fine sieve into a glass measuring cup.
Place 4 custard cups or ramekins (3 to 4 ounces each) in a shallow roasting pan, and divide chocolate mixture among them. Pour hot water into the pan so it reaches halfway up the sides of cups.
Bake until custards are almost set in centers, about 30 minutes (custards will firm as they cool). Carefully remove cups from hot-water bath; let cool slightly.
Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate. Just before serving, dollop with whipped cream, if desired.