A Dinner Party | with Hummingbird Cake + morning-after French toast

Recently I threw a dinner party for two of our closest friends and their two children, and I thought it would be nice to make the kids' table as fancy as the adults'.  My own little nine-year-old appreciates grown up drinking glasses (she asked for a "fancy glass goblet" for Christmas this past December). But more importantly, our friends' eldest daughter is a very lady-like and sophisticated twelve-year-old girl, so I knew that she would love it!

Sadly I have almost no pictures of the food I served because I was both entertaining and drinking copious amounts of cocktails and wine. But I can share that in addition to the easy platter of cheese/baguette/grapes, we had fresh mussels from the Poway Farmer's Market in a white wine sauce for the appetizer, followed by my classic pot roast (which I devoted a prior blog entry to... it's from Ree Drummond, and along with her mashed potatoes, it never disappoints.) Both were perfect for entertaining because in the case of the mussels they are quick and easy, while the pot roast you can make ahead to let roast while you chat.

Since the weather was balmy and my guests are known for loving champagne, I made them Elderflower Fizz* cocktails. It's one of my all-time favorite cocktails when it's nice out because it's so refreshing!

Now here's the kids' table ~

We used a bench to accommodate two children on this side instead of one.  It's a pretty small table, but this worked!

For the place settings I borrowed a cute idea I saw on Pinterest ~ a wreath made of extra-long rosemary with the names taped on, and I draped that over our own tangerines from the backyard.

The original Pinterest post suggested one look at your local Farmer's Market for the long rosemary, but ours didn't have any. Luckily I literally ran across some on my morning jog... San Diego loves wild rosemary and the City often plants rosemary bushes and lets them really grow!

After dinner I served this cake, called a Hummingbird Cake,** along with vanilla ice cream:

The inside looked like this (from link above ~ I also used the recipe in the link above):

Believe me when I tell you that this cake is TO DIE FOR!  The animals on top are just something fun I do with cakes now - I spray-painted plastic animals shiny metallic colors.  The animals also make the kids go crazy because I let them choose their favorite to keep. ;)

And the next day we still had a good amount of baguette left. What do you do with it? You can make a delicious bruschetta or crostino, but if you're looking to make something sweet and breakfast-y you can make French toast*** out of it!


After! Mmm...


*Elderflower Champagne Cocktail: Fill a tumbler with ice. Fill three-quarters of the glass with dry champagne or prosecco. Add thinly sliced cucumber and fresh mint. Top off with St-Germain.

**Hummingbird Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans 
2 cups granulated sugar 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
3 large eggs, beaten 
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil 
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple in juice, undrained 
2 cups chopped ripe bananas (about 3 bananas) 
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted 
Vegetable shortening
2 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened 
1 cup salted butter or margarine, softened 
2 (16-oz.) pkg. powdered sugar 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup pecan halves, toasted
Step 1
Prepare the Cake Layers: Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in vanilla, pineapple, bananas, and toasted pecans.
Step 2
Divide batter evenly among 3 well-greased (with shortening) and floured 9-inch round cake pans.
Step 3
Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely, about 1 hour.
Step 4
Prepare the Cream Cheese Frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Increase speed to medium-high, and beat until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.
Step 5
Assemble Cake: Place 1 Cake Layer on a serving platter; spread top with 1 cup of the frosting. Top with second layer, and spread with 1 cup frosting. Top with third layer, and spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Arrange pecan halves on top of cake.

***Fluffy French Toast
1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1 cup milk
1 pinch salt 
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 tablespoon white sugar
12 thick slices bread Add all ingredients to list
Measure flour into a large mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in the milk. Whisk in the salt, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla extract and sugar until smooth.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium heat.
Soak bread slices in mixture until saturated. Cook bread on each side until golden brown. Serve hot.


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