I met Donna when we worked together in the travel industry, and we reconnected a few years ago at an airline reunion. Once a traveller, always a traveller, and Donna decided to celebrate her birthday in Venice. I didn’t want our Vancouver friends to miss out on all the fun, so I hosted a 4-6 p.m. Happy (Birthday) Hour for about a dozen guests.
Beverages were the first order of business. I made Jargaritas (frozen margaritas served in jars) and picked up three 1.5 L bottles of Mateus Rosé, that 1970s frizzante wine that tastes like a day at the beach.
Donna’s favourite, devilled eggs, topped the appetizer list. I took a shortcut and ordered a platter of them, but I’m sharing a recipe for a clever vertical version that will lend a fresh look to your next cocktail party.
I served two platters — a Mediterranean spread with smoked hummus, mixed olives, cornichons, preserved lemon, balsamic onions and pita plus a crudité tray with sour cream herb dip. My bacon-crusted cheddar bake filled the hot-bite slot.
As I recount it here, that sounds like plenty of food, but I still panicked about running out, so a friend picked up two trays of sushi from Fujiya on Clark Drive. You don’t usually have dessert at a Happy Hour, but I was craving Twixter Bars and Lemon Squares from the Dirty Apron Cooking School and Deli, so ordered a batch of them.
It’s a good thing I erred on the side of excess: The last guests left at 11 p.m.
You will need a dozen 8-ounce glass canning jars with lids. I buy them at the Dollar Store.
1 — 12oz (355 mL) can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
Juice of 2 limes
1 1/2 cups tequila
¾ cup Triple Sec
1 cup Chambord or red raspberry liqueur
4 cups cold water
Combine all the ingredients in a large pitcher and stir well. Divide the mixture among 12 8-ounce jars, filling them to within ½ inch of the rim. Place the lids on the jars and screw them on fairly tightly. Freeze overnight or for at least 5 hours.
You may serve the Jargaritas with spoons or simply instruct you guests to warm them in their hands until they are slushy enough to sip.
Makes 12 servings
Vertical Devilled Eggs
Organic eggs are an affordable luxury that makes you feel indulgent and healthy at the same time. (Adapted from On Boards: Simple & Inspiring Recipe Ideas to Share at Every Gathering by Lisa Dawn Bolton, Appetite by Random House, 2018.)
12 extra-large organic eggs, hard cooked and chilled (see Kitchen Hack)
1/4 cup crème fraîche
2 tbsp full-fat mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp flaked sea salt
Sweet paprika and minced chives for garnish (optional)
Carefully peel the eggs. (Slide a small spoon under the shell if it sticks.) Cut a small slice from the more rounded of the two ends of each egg so they stand upright.
Slice a quarter to a third off the top of each egg. Use a small spoon or the handle of a teaspoon to scoop out the yolks. Place them in a small bowl along with the trimmed whites. Mash them with a fork, working in the crème fraîche, mayonnaise, mustard, cayenne and salt.
Use a spatula to scoop the filling into a medium-size piping bag fitted with a small round tip. (Or use a medium-size resealable plastic bag, snipping a small hole in one corner.) Pipe the filling into each standing egg white.
Garnish the eggs, if you wish, with a sprinkle of paprika and chopped chives. The eggs may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Makes 12 servings
Kitchen Hack: Hard-Cooked Eggs
Place the eggs in a single layer in a pot, cover with cold water and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to a bare simmer and cook the eggs, partially covered, for 8 to 10 minutes. Immediately drain off the cooking water, run cold water over the eggs and add ice cubes to the pot to cool them as rapidly as possible.
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