How to Throw the Best Soiree on the Block
Park Avenue Potluck Celebrations offers a complete guide to cooking, decorating, and everything in between for that next dinner party—for a good cause.
There are a few things in life that everyone should know how to do, and throwing a great dinner party from start to finish is one of them. Fortunately, The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is presenting Park Avenue Potluck Celebrations: Entertaining at Home with New York’s Savviest Hostesses, a follow-up to the original bestselling Park Avenue cookbook. Written by The Society and in conjunction with award-winning food writer and contributing New York Times columnist, Florence Fabricant, this guide offers advice on how to celebrate in style with a compilation of sensational recipes, entertaining ideas, party-planning tips, and personal anecdotes from members and friends of the MSKCC society.
And it’s all for a good cause: A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the books will provide funding for The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s patient care, research, and education programs. Within the book’s pages can be found great menus like this one, suited for an adult Halloween dinner party, and plenty of others that will make any gathering a success, year round. The only thing left for readers to do is put together the guest list.
Butternut Squash Soup with Parmesan and Sageby Kathy Thomas
This recipe calls in some nontraditional flavors to amp up this traditionally sweet autumn soup.
“This soup has a long history—I concocted it as a newlywed when most of the butternut squash soup recipes I tried were too sweet. I began serving it from Italian coffee mugs at relaxed fall suppers and eventually it became part of our Thanksgiving dinners.”
Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 butternut squash, peeled, cut in half, seeded, and cubed 2 leeks, white part only, cleaned and chopped 2 carrots, sliced ½ cup chopped onion 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 teaspoon salt 4 cups well-seasoned chicken stock 2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano ½ cup heavy cream, optional Sage leaves for garnish Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling, optional
Place the squash, leeks, carrots, and onion in a saucepan. Add the butter and salt, cover, and cook over low heat until the vegetables start to soften, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bring to a simmer, and cook, covered, until the vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Using a tablespoon, drop about 24 small mounds of the cheese onto a nonstick baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake until the cheese melts and forms lacy crisps. Remove from the oven and cool. Set aside.
When the vegetables are soft, cool briefly, then puree them, along with the stock, in a blender or food processor in two batches. Return the puree to the saucepan and bring to a simmer. Season with salt to taste. Add the heavy cream, if using, and heat through. Serve in bowls or mugs, each garnished with Parmesan crisps and a sage leaf. If you like, drizzle the surface of the soup with olive oil.
Patsy’s Popoversby Ashley Potter
Simple and always a hit, these dinner party necessities will have guests’ mouths watering.
“This recipe can make any meal festive. It came from Patsy Hansen, one of my mother’s dearest friends. Patsy would bring the popovers to our house and my mother would serve them with roast beef. And they smell absolutely delicious while they bake!”
10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled 6 large eggs 1 teaspoon salt 2 cups whole milk 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and brush 12 popover molds or a large 12-cup muffin tin with 4 tablespoons of the butter.
Place the eggs in an mixer, blender, or food processor, and beat until light and bubbly. Add the salt, the remaining 6 tablespoons melted butter, the milk, and flour, and process until well-blended. Divide the batter among the buttered tins.
Place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Remove from the molds and serve immediately.
Beef Stroganoff in a New York Minuteby Laura Harris
Somewhere between couture and comfort comes a dish that will make any guest feel right at home.
“This is a favorite of my brother David, who was a pilot in the Marines. My mother made it for him when he returned from Iraq in the middle of summer, even though it is not a light summer dish. It’s a delicious supper dish that’s easy to make and can serve a crowd around holiday time.”
Makes 6 servings
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 large onion, thinly sliced 6 ounces white mushrooms, thinly sliced 1 pound ground sirloin 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1½ cups hot beef stock Salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 1 pound noodles or fettuccine 6 tablespoons sour cream 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and mushrooms and sauté until they barely start to brown. Add the meat and cook, breaking it up with a fork, until it has lost its pink color and is evenly crumbly. Remove from the heat.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, cook a minute or so, then gradually whisk in the stock to make a creamy sauce. Season with salt and pepper and whisk in the mustard. Pour the sauce over the meat and mushroom mixture. Reheat briefly and check the seasoning again. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Cook the noodles or fettuccine according to the package directions and drain well. Place in a large warm bowl. Reheat the meat mixture and fold in the sour cream. Spoon the meat over the noodles, garnish with the dill, and serve.
Moist Autumn Apple Cakeby Maria Villalba
No amount of candy bars collected around the neighborhood can compare to this perfect seasonal dinner party dessert.
“Here is a dessert my family would serve for Thanksgiving, but it’s perfect anytime in the fall. A scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side is a delicious accompaniment."
Makes 6 to 8 servings
½ tablespoon unsalted butter, softened 3 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon salt 1½ cups corn oil or grapeseed oil ¾ cup granulated sugar ½ cup light brown sugar 3 large eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 3 Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples, peeled cored and sliced (about 3 cups) 1 cup raisins 2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar Whipped cream, crème fraîche, or vanilla ice cream for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform cake pan and dust it with a little of the flour.
Sift the remaining flour into a large bowl with the cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
Place the oil in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the granulated and brown sugars and beat for about 4 minutes, until the mixture is very creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the vanilla. Gently stir the flour mixture into the oil and sugar mixture. Fold in the apples and raisins. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 1 hour, until golden and the top of the cake is firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and cool, then remove the sides of the pan and set aside until ready to serve. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the top and serve with whipped cream, crème fraîche, or vanilla ice cream if you like.