Friday, March 9, 2012

How to - More GREAT Bridal Shower Food - Punch with Panache

By Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist
www.CheesecakeFarms.com





I'm in a bridal shower mood because we've just hosted several here at Cheesecake Farms and I'm tickled "pink" at how wonderfully they came together.


When I think bridal show food, I think "girl food".


Fancy sandwiches, fussy cookies, fluffy cakes, rich soups, punch with floating ice rings.... that's what I call girl food.  Little treats we can oooo and ahhh over...... YUMMY!!


Girl food does not have to be overly sweet or difficult to prepare.
It doesn't have to be expensive.


Bridal shower food can be healthy, light and low cal while still tasting (and looking) extravagant. 
YUM!


Let's start with punch.......


You Must Serve Punch
Here in the south,  punch is a staple at every gathering.  We southerners just love our punch.


You'll see punch in parts of the mid-west, too.  But in the north and in the west, punch is a novelty.


No matter where you come from (or where you're holding your bridal shower), punch is a good thing to serve.  The punch bowl is an ice breaker.  It's the ladies equivalent of an open bar.  It's a place where the guests can meet, mingle and engage in polite conversation.


Punch is nothing more than juice with a block of ice floating in it.


Some punches add sherbet or ice cream for panache.
Others are spiked with ginger ale for fizz.
Punches are occasionally alcoholic..... but never at a bridal shower.


There are many punch recipes out there but you can just buy your favorite bottled juice (or 2) and pour into the punch bowl.


The night before, fill a mold with some of the juice and freeze.  This way you'll have a block of ice that doesn't dilute the punch as it melts the way ice cubes would.


Add a few slices of fruit or a few sprigs of mint to the bowl....some ginger ale or lemon soda for fizz and, if you're feeling frisky, a little sherbet.  (Sherbet is optional...some people love it, others don't.)



Properly raised southerners always have someone to serve the punch to the guests.


We will, in these modern and more casual times, pretend to not mind if the punch bowl is self serve but brace yourself for a few raised eye brows and lots of whisper-ing.


Keep an eye out for those who can not (or will not) serve themselves.... like the elder aunts or great ladies who stick to traditional ways.  If you notice hesitation at the punch bowl,  be prepared to swoop in (or direct a charming young lady to swoop in) and start pouring punch.


There you have it!   Punch!!


Need a recipe?
Here's some recipes we like and recently served:


Orange - Apple Punch
Makes enough for 1 punch bowl full - 30 to 32 (6 oz) servings
(This means it will serve 20-24 people because some will have seconds)


1/2 gallon orange juice
1/2 gallon apple juice (sweetened or unsweetened)
Sugar to taste (optional)
1/2 gallon ginger ale
3 or 4 springs fresh mint or lemon verbena (a garden herb) - well washed and dried


Night before 
Fill a mold 3/4 full with orange juice.  Freeze.


A 4 to 6 cup mold is about right but one that's slightly smaller or slightly bigger works well, too.  Just stay away from cubes because they will melt too fast.


No mold?   Use any container - even a plastic food storage container.


For serving 
Remove the frozen juice from the mold (turn the mold upside down and run some hot tap water over it until it falls out into your hand) and put it into your punch bowl.  Put the punch bowl where you'll be serving.


Pour the remaining orange juice into the punch bowl.
Add the apple juice.  Taste.  Stir in some sugar if you think it needs it.  Stop here.


When the guest arrive
Toss the mint sprigs into the punch bowl and pour in the ginger ale.
Stir once around with the punch bowl ladle and leave the ladle in the bowl.  
The punch is ready!



Pomegranate and Sparkling Cider Punch

Anti-oxidants in the punch bowl?   Why not!

Makes about 16 (1/2 cup) servings

(This means it will serve about 10 because some will have seconds) 

1 handful fresh mint (about 1 cup) left on tender stems (remove stems if woody) - well washed and dried
1 (32 oz.) bottle pomegranate juice (chilled)
1 (1 quart) bottle sparkling cider or sparkling white grape juice (chilled) plus extra for the ice mold

(You can also make the ice mold from orange juice) 


Night before 
Fill a 2 to 4 cup mold 3/4 full with the extra sparkling cider, white grape juice or orange juice.  (A mold that's a little bit bigger is OK, too.)  Freeze.



For serving 
Remove the frozen juice from the mold (turn the mold upside down and run some hot tap water over it until it falls out into your hand) and put it into your punch bowl.  Put the punch bowl where you'll be serving.


Pour the pomegranate juice into the punch bowl.
Stop here.


When the guest arrive
Toss the mint sprigs into the punch bowl and pour in sparkling cider or sparkling grape juice.
Stir once around with the punch bowl ladle and leave the ladle in the bowl.  
The punch is ready!



Iced Almond Tea Punch
A variation on the fruit juice punch.... but perfectly acceptable even in the most traditional southern settings.



Iced tea, by the way, is required at all southern functions.  It's the house wine of the south!


Makes about 24 (1/2 cup) servings
(This means it will serve 12 - 16 people because some will have seconds) 

12 tea bags (plain, regular tea)
18 cups water (divided)
3/4 cups sugar
3 lemons (juiced- about 3/4 cup)

4 tablespoons almond extract
A couple of thin lemon slices or mint leaves (or both) for serving garnish


Night before 


Bring 10 cups of water to a rolling boil.  Add tea bags.  
Cover.  Steep 10 minutes.
Remove teas bags and gently squeeze dry.  
Stir in sugar till dissolved.  Cool.


Fill a 2 to 4 cup mold 1/2 full with prepared tea.  
(A mold that's a little bit bigger is OK, too.)
Add plain water to fill mold 3/4 full.  Stir.  Freeze.


Chill remaining tea separately.  Do not add any water.



For serving 
Remove the frozen tea from the mold (turn the mold upside down and run some hot tap water over it until it falls out into your hand) and put it into your punch bowl.  Put the punch bowl where you'll be serving.



To the punch bowl add the cooled tea mixture, lemon juice, extract and remaining 8 cups (cold) water.


Toss in a couple of lemon slices or mint sprigs (or both).
Stir once around with the punch bowl ladle and leave the ladle in the bowl.  



The punch is ready!




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