Saturday, October 16, 2010

An italian night - Retirement Party

My Boss of 13 years is set to retire at the end of December before which she is going on an extended holiday and so I thought I should host a retirement party.  We did not want to have one of those formal do's which people go to to out of obligation, but have a party which we could all enjoy and really spend some time together outside of the office.  Since I am who I am food had to be front and center and because she and her husband are hoping to spend a couple of years in Italy,  Italian had to be the theme.

I will give some rough recipes as I was kind of cooking on the fly and really did not measure anything.  Several people asked for the pasta recipe, well I have tried but really I was making it up as I went along, so I will give my best guess of measurements.  There were 30 people in attendance and I think we all ate well and my fridge is  a happy place to explore today.

Menu consisted of:

Antipasto platters easy to make all the ingredients were purchased except the peppers I grilled myself

Every body's favourite Italian appetizer bruschetta

French bread sliced then in a 350 oven until they are just turning golden brown.  Rub each slice with a piece of garlic (thank you Connie) the topping consists of chopped tomatoes, salt pepper and fresh basil.  Spoon the topping on at the last minute so they do not go soggy, this was done by the first to arrive thank you Pearl.

Foccacia bread(this deserves it's own post another day) with a nice fruity olive oil and good balsamic vinegar to dip it in.

There was also some cheese and crackers and chips etc.

The main course consisted of my version of chicken diable

 Chicken legs and thighs which were marinated in lemon juice, (about 1 lemon to 12 pieces to chicken) and a handful of hot pepper flakes (about a teaspoons for 12 pieces) They marinated for about 3 hours.

Put the chicken in one layer in a roasting tin then top with blobs of herb butter.  (butter mixed with fresh chopped sage parsley basil and rosemary)I used about 1/2 cup for all the chicken that I cooked.

Roast in a 350 oven for about an hour basting regularly (thank you Nancy)until the skin is crispy and brown.  If you were using breasts you want to make sure not over cook as they can dry out, which is why when I am cooking for a crowd, and not as in control of the timing I prefer to use legs and thighs. And sorry you have to have skin on, but you are dowsing in butter any way so no real way to make them healthy.

Seafood fettuccine

One of Beverley's favourite foods is shrimps or prawns so I had to include them in the menu.

OK here goes this is what I did:-
1 onion finely chopped sweated in butter and olive oil (about 1/4 cup in total)when the onion was translucent I added 2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced then I added enough flour to soak up all the butter and oil.  Cooked that for about 1 minute then added about 1 cup of milk and a 1/2 cup of tomato sauce that I found in the fridge.  (it was only a couple of days old) and the juice of two lemons.

I took the shells and tails off the prawns and put them back in the refrigerator and then added the shells to some boiling water.  I cooked them for about 1/4 hour and reduced the liquid to about 1/2 cup then drained off the shells and added the liquid to the sauce.

I did this ahead of time and then when I was putting the fresh fettuccine in the boiling water. I added the prawns (1 1/2 lbs) and the fresh crab leg meat (1/2 lb) to the heated up sauce and simmered it until the prawns were just cooked through and the fettuccine was al dente.  I added 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese (thank you Iris) and enough of the pasta water to get the sauce to the right consistency.

I then tossed it all together and topped it with some more of the freshly grated Parmesan and parsley.

We also had rosemary roasted potatoes and roasted eggplant, zucchini and peppers marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and the good old standby Caesar salad.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and think so did everyone else.  What was especially nice for me was my good friend Nancy was my scullery maid all evening and cleared up and topped up so that I could really enjoy my own party what a treat.  And then Nancy and Lorelei and probably some others (I was in the other room) cleaned all the dishes and left my kitchen better than when they found it.  Earlier in the day my cleaning lady bailed on me and Connie and Nancy dropped everything and washed my floors and vacuumed my carpet and shared a glass of wine in the sun on my deck. I am blessed to have such good friends.


  1. It was nice to reciprocate the assitance for a change......
    You pulled the event together like a cat out of excellent....the pasta, and the roasted peppers and zuchinni, chicken....amazing


  2. Oh, those all look so delicious! What a way to kick off someone's retirement. You did a good job in hosting your boss's retirement party, and I'm sure she appreciates this. Good luck and congratulations to your boss!