Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Nonalcoholic Wedding Drinks

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Like peanut butter and jelly, like shoes and socks, like you and your future hubby, weddings and alcohol are two things that just, well, go together. But not always, and not for everyone.

While most weddings feature alcoholic beverages in some form—a full premium bar, beer and wine, champagne, alcoholic punch or a signature cocktail—there are always going to be wedding guests who prefer to abstain. Do you really want to leave your nondrinking guest—whether a recovering alcoholic, designated driver, teenager or simply someone who chooses to forgo or limit her consumption—out in the cold?

In addition to sparkling water and sodas (for extra panache, you may want to throw in a selection of fancy or retro-looking bottled fizzes such as IZZE Sparkling Juice, Thomas Kemper Vanilla Cream Soda, Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry Soda, etc.) there are plenty of perfectly celebratory nonalcoholic “cocktail” options you may choose to feature at your wedding. Your caterer or bar service may specialize in certain no-booze beverages, so be sure to ask what’s on the menu. And make sure your bar is stocked with the necessary juices, syrups, mixes and garnishes to make a great nonalcoholic drink should a guest request one.

In the meantime, here are two of our favorite festive, fabulous nonalcoholic “cocktails” to wet your whistle:

Madras

Madras

Perfect for hot-weather weddings, the Madras is a refreshing blend of orange and cranberry juice. Just omit the vodka that usually goes into this vibrant cocktail, serve in a highball glass with plenty of ice and an orange-slice garnish, and you’ve got a perfect beverage for a sunny al fresco or tented reception. Tip: Sub grapefruit juice for orange juice and you’ve got an alcohol-free Sea Breeze; sub pineapple juice for orange, and, voila, it’s a Bay Breeze!

Nojito

Nojito

This one takes a little work to prepare fresh to order, but it’s well worth the effort. Fill a pint glass halfway with ice, add a handful of clean, fresh mint leaves, add 3 ounces of fresh lime juice and 1 ½ ounces of simple syrup. Gently muddle the mix with a wooden pestle. Add more ice, top with club soda, and serve with a mint/lime garnish. Delicious! Tip: You can prep the mint leaves and squeeze the lime juice ahead of time, but DON’T muddle the mint beforehand, or it will blacken and wilt. Ick.

Caffeinate with Care with a Coffee Bar

Friday, October 30th, 2009
Java Pura Coffee Bar

Java Pura Coffee Bar

Your fave coffee has been the unsung hero in planning your wedding, keeping you going as you’ve stuffed envelopes, freaked out over the seating chart and flipped through bridal magazine after magazine in search of the perfect up-do. So, why not give your liquid sidekick a special part at your reception by offering a full-service coffee bar?

Our vote for the honor goes to Java Pura, a local coffee roasting and catering company that does events for heavy-hitters like Neiman Marcus, The Houstonian Hotel Club & Spa and Tootsies, and is quickly becoming a must-have vendor among Houston brides.

Hire Java Pura for your big day, and they’ll send their professional barista—commercial grade espresso machine and grinder in tow—to your reception to serve up made-to-order specialty coffee drinks, like crème brulé (latté with caramel), almond joy (latté with dark chocolate and almond syrup) and espresso. Your guests can even opt for frozen cappuccinos, Italian sodas, hot chocolate and an assortment of teas.

Summer brides-to-be, worry not: Java Pura can put any drink over ice, so you can justify the coffee bar as a way to keep your guests cool and caffeinated for plenty of dancing.

And yes, we’re sure your guests will use the coffee bar, no matter the season. Even if you’ve somehow made it to your big day without several dozen carmel macchiatas, at least half of your guests like coffee, says Java Pura co-owner Richard Colt.

And they’ll like it no matter when you serve it during your big day. Java Pura’s first brides just wanted to serve coffee with the wedding cake, but now lots of Houston brides are opting to offer a coffee bar throughout the reception. (Some guests even forego cocktails for a cup—or three—of java!) Speaking of which, a coffee bar makes a fun drink alternative if you’re having an alcohol-free wedding.

If you want to really wow your guests, try this idea from an event held at River Oaks Country Club: Java Pura set up two coffee bars—one in the main area, the other near the exit, so guests could grab a to-go cup for the road. You could even sweeten the send-off gift with a personalized coffee sleeve or mug that reminds guests of how you caffeinated them with care. Your guests will thank you for it. We know we would.

Dig In: Delicious, Guest-Friendly Cocktail Reception Hors D’oeuvre

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009
Photo: DW Photography

Photo: DW Photography

Nothing stokes the appetite like a wedding ceremony. All that pre-wedding preparation and gussying-up, all that pomp and circumstance, all that love being pledged and promised and celebrated. After sighing and smiling their way through your ceremony, you can bet your guests will be hungry. So give them what they need, Houston bride: sustenance, served up with special-occasion flair.

Remember, your cocktail reception hors d’oeuvre will be the first taste guests get of your wedding, and they need to set the right impression. Where presentation is concerned, elegance and artistry are de rigueur, but don’t overdo it—nobody wants to confront food they can’t identify or figure out how to insert into their mouths.

We suggest keeping things simple and delicious, with a focus on quality and handle-ability. As for cocktail reception hors d’oeuvre no-nos? They include messy items (save the Buffalo wings for a post-wedding poker night), bad-breath and heartburn inducers (raw onions do NOT make for pleasant close-quarters mingling), and a lack of choices for vegetarians or guests who observe religious food restrictions (maybe rethink that all-pork smorgasbord your fiancé fancies, Houston bride).

Here are some of our all-time favorite hors d’oeuvre items, any one of which your caterer is likely to be able to provide, along with unique signature specialties of their very own. Can’t decide just by browsing? That’s what tastings are for, Houston bride! Isn’t wedding-planning yummy?

•    Goat cheese tart with fig jam
•    Smoked salmon tartare on potato slices
•    Tuna tartare on crispy wontons
•    Tandoori or satay chicken skewers
•    Scallops wrapped in smoked bacon
•    Coconut shrimp
•    Stuffed mushroom caps
•    Crispy spring rolls
•    Baby lamb chops
•    Mini Beef Wellington
•    Mini crab cakes
•    Mini gourmet pizzas
•    Gourmet sliders
•    Assorted crostini (savory toasted crackers topped with cheese, vegetables or meat—make sure they’re not too crunchy or they’ll shatter when guests try to bite them!)

Signature Cocktails By Color

Monday, September 21st, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, the Wedding Buzz, our must-have weekly e-newsletter, featured a recipe for a fabulous, bright red Pomegranate Champagne Cocktail. Well, seeing as how you brides went ga-ga for this refreshing “ruby sipper,” we thought we’d offer up some more fun ideas for yummy cocktails that can be color-coordinated with your reception palette.

Matching a signature cocktail to your wedding reception color scheme isn’t just a cool design touch, it’s also a smart choice for brides on a budget. At your cocktail reception, instead of offering a full premium bar (at a premium price to you—or whoever is footing your wedding bill), have waiters tray-pass one of these eye-catching drink choices, or a custom-designed, color-matched mix of your own invention. Give your signature cocktail a cute name—the “Mike and Lisa Love-tini” or the “Together Forever,” for instance—and dress up trays with hand-lettered signs letting guests know what they’re sipping.

Photo Courtesy of White on Rice Couple

Photo Courtesy of White on Rice Couple

Green Scene
We love the tropical look of the Green Flash Cocktail, which we found on this happy couple’s great blog, along with the recipe. Concocted by a bartender at Club Med Columbus Isle in the Bahamas, the drink gets its pretty green color and sweet-citrusy flavor from a combo of Blue Curacao, Peach Schnapps and orange juice.

Photo Courtesy of Blue Cocktails Blog

Photo Courtesy of Blue Cocktails Blog

True Blue
For a veritable library of blue-hued libations, you can’t do much better than the Blue Cocktails blog. Our favorite? The Blue Sapphire Martini, a tart, stylish blend of Bombay Sapphire, Cointreau, Blue Curacao and sour mix.

Photo Courtesy of Deep Glamour Blog

Photo Courtesy of Deep Glamour Blog

Purple Passion
We couldn’t believe our luck when we stumbled upon the oh-so-sophisticated Deep Glamour Cosmotini at the blog for which this jewel-toned gem of a cocktail is named. Check out the recipe, which includes purple-dyed tapioca pearls—a fabulous look for a wedding with a high-style, lounge-y vibe.

Photo Courtesy of Laylita.com

Photo Courtesy of Laylita.com

Well Red
More and more wedding palettes seem to feature the color red, whether it’s teamed with celadon or violet, tangerine or watermelon, black-and-white or gold. This lovely Valentine’s-Day-inspired fizzy cocktail from Laylita makes a gorgeous day or evening reception drink, and those blood orange garnishes? Perfection!

Hot Cake: Red Velvet

Monday, July 13th, 2009
NYC Cake Decorators Wedding Cake Walk

NYC Cake Decorators Wedding Cake Walk

Wedding cake shapes and decoration styles come and go, but a moist, luscious, delicious cake is always in style. For pure cake yumminess it’s tough to beat red velvet. Despite its humble associations—church picnics, backyard gatherings, grandma’s house—this rosy-hued favorite dresses up gorgeously for weddings. Brides in the planning stages for autumn and winter weddings take note: What could be a lovelier addition to a seasonal reception than a cake the color of turning leaves?

Red velvet cake is an eternal Southern favorite that’s fast becoming a wedding star on the national stage. Part of its appeal is its inimitable flavor, which typically comes from a combination of cocoa powder, vanilla and buttermilk, all covered with a rich, sweet, ever-so-slightly tangy cream-cheese frosting. Then there’s the surprise and excitement (not to mention excellent photo op) of cutting through wedding-white frosting to reveal a brilliant ruby cake underneath (red velvet cake gets its sensational hue from nothing more complicated than a good dose of red food coloring).

We love the idea of a red velvet cake done up in formal black-and-white, or decorated with dewy red rose petals, for a more romantic look.

Talk to your wedding cake baker about other red velvet wedding cake ideas—Cupcake tower? Gift-box cake done up in red or silver “ribbon?” Red velvet overlay for the cake table?—and check out these images for more inspiring ideas.

Louisa Morris Cakes

Louisa Morris Cakes

Pink Cake Box

Pink Cake Box

Artsy Carmen

Artsy Carmen

Whisking on Pens & Needles

Whisking on Pens & Needles

Martha Stewart Weddings

Martha Stewart Weddings