Monthly Archives: September 2014

Adventures in Wedding Catering

On September 27, I got to attend the wedding of my friend-for-life, Michelle. In fact, she invited me to be “man of honor” – and her groom, Todd, had a best woman. It looked to be a wonderful wedding. Besides the loving, in-tune couple, there was the lakeside ceremony, the tiny guest list, the casual atmosphere, the well-written original vows, and (let’s be honest here) the organizers’ impeccable taste in booze. Everything was kept in the metaphorical family: Todd’s best woman would bake the cake, I would bring the rings to the ceremony, Michelle’s father got assigned decorating duty, Todd’s family knew somebody who knew the officiant, and both bride and groom were good friends with the professional caterer who agreed to supply nibbles.

Until the caterer canceled a week before the wedding.

People have told me it was nice to step in and bring food. That’s flattering, but I don’t know. I never realized that other options existed. I simply thought, “Huh, now I’m catering,” and texted our mutual friend-for-life, Rory, to ask him if he would help. Yes, of course: off we went.

To be sure, our attempt would not be that heroic. For one thing, I recklessly decided not to tell anybody other than Rory, and make the whole thing a surprise. For another thing, there was going to be some food already. Scardello, Dallas’s foremost cheese shop, was providing two big cheese platters with prosciutto, salami, nuts, and figs, and of course there would be wedding cake.

Based on my questions to Michelle (it really helps you plan a surprise if you have a reputation for asking a lot of questions), she had hoped for bruschetta and a few other simple dip-type appetizers. Nothing complicated and no full fancy meals. With a little help from Michelle’s own online directory of recipes idea (thanks, Pinterest!), Rory and I settled on four items:

  • traditional bruschetta topping (tomato, basil, and balsamic)
  • another topping featuring artichoke and parmesan (recipe considerably modified from an original in Southern Living)
  • a dip of white beans, Hatch green chiles, cumin, and garlic
  • oil-brushed, salted, and toasted baguette slices for the three dips

This is probably the most I have ever cooked without using onions. (Well, okay. I used green onions for garnish.)

The bean dip could not have been simpler. Step one: put your beans, chiles, and spices in a bowl. Step two: put them in the blender. Step three: garnish and eat.

Bean dip recipe

Pictured: Step 1 (left); Step 3 (right)

The traditional bruschetta was simple, too, but not easy. For one thing, Rory had to slice about 20 Campari tomatoes (aka “the flavorful kind of tomatoes”). For another, the tomatoes released moisture over time, so that the texture in the bowl started as “bruschetta,” by reception time was “stew,” and today is “lake.” Not that it is really a problem. I mean, lake water was never this delicious.


Mildly terrifying sight for anybody who doesn’t love prep work. Who loves prep work? By the way, paid celebrity endorsement for Global chef knives, although you should use a serrated edge for tomatoes.

Consensus scene-stealer, though: the artichoke dip. No, you don’t need spinach and a hot broiler to make artichoke appetizer magic. Here was the recipe I used (notice that this produces approx. 1 wedding reception’s worth of dip):

What You Need
– 2 jars marinated artichoke hearts
– a standard bottle of grated Parmesan
– two or three Hatch green chiles (or another pepper, like chipotle or poblano)
– a jar of mayonnaise

What You Do
1. Finely chop up the artichoke hearts and chiles. Throw them in a 9×13″ baking pan.
2. Add the whole bottle of Parmesan to the pan (it’s okay to do less, depending on your preferred flavor balance)
3. Mix in 1.5 to 2 cups mayo
4. Bake at 400 (F) for about 5-6 minutes. You’re not looking for it to change color, just to get it hot for a bit. It can be served cold just fine. Give it another good stir.
5. Eat.

This could be eaten with bread, crackers, or by itself on a spoon. To quote my own first reaction to the taste-test: “This is the savory version of chocolate frosting.” Rory adds that it might be great served hot on chicken breasts or pork.

artichoke dip

I like green onions, okay?!?!

The No-Longer-Super-Secret Trick to Killer Artichoke Dip!
Lemonaise. The Ojai Cook’s Lemonaise is a miracle ingredient, the kind of thing you should put alongside shallots, fish sauce, lime juice, capers, and cumin on your Secret Ingredient Shelf. Instead of high fructose corn syrup and the approx. 15 weird chemicals listed in Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, Lemonaise is spiked with an acid kick of lemon, a drop of garlic, and a healthy swirl of mustard. You can see the mustard seeds. Sometimes I eat Lemonaise with a spoon. It is the best mayo outside of Belgium, a total delight, and available at Whole Foods, Sprouts, and other fine stores. Seriously, for this endorsement these people should pay me. In jars of mayonnaise.

Uh, did I mention I don’t like mayonnaise? This stuff is the bomb.

Look for this. You know you want to.

Anyway, Back to the Wedding

The day couldn’t have been more perfect. The weather was perfect: a sunny Texas day, without the excess heat. The food prep went without a hitch, which is weirdly fortunate. At lunchtime Rory and I saw Michelle, who was utterly calm. “I feel great,” she said. “I’m not worried about anything anymore and I haven’t felt cold feet once.” She asked what we were planning to do before the ceremony. We said, “Drinking!” She believed us without question, which is a little insulting. But we do keep our promises, so we took care of an excellent South African shiraz during the three-hour cooking process.

The shores of White Rock Lake were a beautiful venue site. Casual, too: runners and bikers kept stopping with congratulations, and some of them zipped through the photos. I believe the photos were great anyway, since there were such wonderful people in them. The ceremony was short and achingly sweet, and in case you’re wondering, the ring looks like this:

Michelle's ring

Not too shabby

The reception was a rousing success. Having only 25 people means that everyone actually meets everyone else–and that the happy couple get to sit down and eat something. They didn’t need to spend two hours working the crowd or shaking hands. The cheeses disappeared instantly, I never saw a trace of the prosciutto, and then people started devouring the bruschetta. And there was cake: Jean Marie, Todd’s best woman, had baked the cake the night before, put it on the cake stand, and then watched in horror as it fell to the floor. So she stayed up until 3:30 a.m. baking a second one.

Somehow I got stuck with the chore, “take home leftovers.” The top layer of cake was whisked off by the groom’s family for safekeeping, but the rest of the cake was charmlessly mashed onto a platter and handed to me, along with about half the bean dip and just under half of the two bruschetta styles. So at this point I’ve enjoyed three slices of Jean Marie’s early A.M. handiwork. Please, if you live in Dallas, come eat some of this cake. You seriously have no idea how much cake I have.

A great time was had by all. Plates quickly filled and emptied. The bride sat down with Rory and me and said, “Everything’s going well. I don’t know where all this food came from.” Rory said, “We do.” Delicious cake with preposterously great frosting was served. Todd gave every guest a bottle of his home-brewed lager. (It’s good.) The reception was over in a rushed 75 minutes, too short, but older family members had to get home and the glowing couple had to go off honeymooning. A hardcore group of celebrants moved to a bar to celebrate our mutual joy with beers.

“Is anyone going to order food?” the waitress asked.

Guiltily, Jean Marie confessed: “I’m starving.”

So the father of the bride bought everybody hamburgers.


Filed under Edibles

Sex Crime in the 21st Century

We didn’t have enough national nightmares already this year, so some anonymous, pitiful men on the internet decided to create another one. This weekend, someone hacked into dozens of celebrities’ phones and stole their private photos. Some are nude selfies, but others are just normal pictures. Now they’re all on the internet. Alarmingly (even in the context of this entire theft being alarming), some of them are labeled “unknown,” because they hacked somebody’s phone and stole nude photos without even knowing who it was.

Now we have graphic, viral proof of America’s woman-hating underbelly. There’s a whole subculture of men out there applauding this and shaming the photo-takers:

“Johnny M. Pozzi” (real name John M. Pozzini) also wrote this on Twitter recently: “Muslims have no sense of humor. They’re too busy worshiping false gods and wearing stupid shit on their head.” [sic] [sick]

Ladies, "Do you have a Reddit account?" is probably something you should ask on the first date.

Ladies, “Do you have a Reddit account?” is probably something you should ask on the first date. Apparently this applies to lesbians too.

Johnny Pozzini’s comment, “It’s not fair that only the guys of your choosing get to see the photos,” made me wonder if this theft is a hate crime. (No: hate crime statutes require the threat or use of physical force.) But the sub-human Pozzini is saying that women do not have civil rights. He’s contending that it is perfectly legal and “fair” for women to have their property stolen, if their property is something that he wants. By this logic, it’s not fair that only Bill Gates’s family gets to enjoy his wealth, so I should take his money.

Of course, few people put that into practice with money. We don’t help ourselves to the rich. But men do this to women, every single day, every single minute, because so many men still consider their fellow human beings to be property. Have you noticed that men are calling this a “leak” while women call it “theft”? This creepy culture of pick-up artists, “Red Pills”, men’s rights activists, and anonymous hackers legitimately doesn’t believe that women have the right to control their property, their sexual choices, or their bodies.

"Wait," you ask. "What is this Red Pill thing you mentioned?" "Ugh," I reply, "did you really want to know?"

“Wait,” you ask. “What is this Red Pill thing you mentioned?” “Ugh,” I reply, “did you really want to know?”

There’s more evidence that these men deny women basic rights. The evidence is that thousands of women, professional sex and pornography workers, willingly offer up their sexualities to this audience. Why would these men rather see pictures of famous people? Because they’re famous, and because they’re unwilling. Stealing the private sex lives of famous people is pretty damn close to rape.

And it’s not like pornographers are falling short of demand. You can find that stuff for free in about a billion places, often professionally shot, well-lit, in focus, and in high definition. These celebrity nude selfies are definitely not professional. I’m about to describe some, and I apologize if this offends you, but you can’t understand just how stupid, offensive, and aggressive this theft is without seeing at least a description of the stolen articles.

To the pond slime of the internet, “you’re famous” is more important than “you have rights,” “you’re a human being,” or even “you take hot photos.” Why else would they be clamoring to see Kate Upton naked, but seated right in front of a lamp so she’s a grainy dark blur? Or a photo of Upton, fully clothed, eating yogurt? I’m pretty sure none of them thought they would be downloading a photo of her boyfriend, pitcher Justin Verlander, passed out on top of his bed, pants around his ankles, his shirt failing to cover his smooth, shaved testicles. (That photo raises another question about consent. Did Verlander know the picture even existed?)

In other words, the photos are boring. They’re worthless except as shaming devices and weapons. If they belonged to non-famous people, nobody would care. If they came from a porn company, nobody would buy them. The reason they have been leaked is that men in our society believe that if a woman becomes famous, she deserves sexual assault.

So to summarize, we have a lot of famous people taking uninteresting photos of themselves, some of them sexual and all of them private. Then we have anonymous hackers who believe they are entitled to see these photos, because the famous people won’t publish them, and that’s unfair. The hackers steal this property for men everywhere who feel no guilt enjoying it. They blame the victims (why did you leave it somewhere hackable?), shame the victims (why did you take these photos?), and loathe themselves (we needed to see them because we’re undateable).

It’s fashionable to say that sexual assault perpetrators “objectify” women. But “objectify” is not the word for what has happened with these women (and Justin Verlander’s shiny balls). They’re the victims of a theft and an assault. Ironically, the men who downloaded these photos out of lust also downloaded them out of hate. They hate that women are no longer subjugated. They hate that women are sexually active. They hate that women have rights. They hate that women are human beings at all. There is no graver threat to the citizens of this country.


Filed under Ill-Informed Opinion