first fête

entertaining with style- making it work for you

Categories: Appetizers, Desserts, Cocktail Party, Breakfast/Brunch, Setting the Stage, Fête Fact, Posted on June 9, 2019 by Sandy Bergsten

So excited for my first Chicago party. My youngest, who is in business school at Northwestern, wanted to invite some of her classmates over to meet me and see the apartment before they took off for their summer internships. With my husband and I driving back across the country the week before, time was going to be too tight to pull off a proper cocktail party that weekend, but a Sunday brunch would work. Sadly, that day my husband would be away on business, so my daughter and I decided we’d have her girls over for an afternoon tea but swap out the Earl Grey for rosé and mimosas.

For me planning a party is just as fun as having one. I love thinking about the menu, table, lighting and music. And because the week leading up to the party I would be driving through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois it would afford me plenty of time to think about what I’d like to serve and how I want the event to happen. But not a lot of time to actually pull it off.

When having a party- the reason, guest list and invitation all set the stage. My daughter covered those bases weeks ago. Leaving me with the menu and timeline. Here’s an entertaining secret- the amount of forethought you put into your event will exponentially increase the ease with how it comes off. 

Anything in life that looks seamless actually has a lot of structure. That includes parties. That said you also to keep it simple. Nothing is more tedious than a fussy affair. Be sure to maximize what you personally do best and outsource where you fall a bit short. That way everyone, including yourself, is guaranteed a good time.

For our party I want to serve some fun tea fare- savory sandwiches, sweet scones, mini quiches, and tiny tarts. Sounds complicated but let me show you how easy it can be literally in a day. The trick is making and prepping everything ahead of time. And incorporating some premade components that look extravagant but are as easy as opening a box.

For the bar I am going to keep it simple and offer rosé, mimosas, and sparkling water. All three can be served in the same type of wine glass which will keep my bar uniform.

Speaking of the bar and table, save yourself some grief and set it a day or two ahead of time. The only last-minute placement should be your flowers and food.

The curry turkey finger sandwiches are simply raisin bread, spread with scallion cream cheese, topped with chutney, smoked turkey, and arugula.

Cut off the crusts and cut into triangles.

I adore smoked salmon on cucumber rounds. It’s light, so pretty and a cinch to make.

Wonton wrappers pressed into mini muffin tins are the secret to this recipe.

For the wonton quiche cups combine, eggs, flour half and half, scallions, bacon and swiss cheese.

Spoon into the wonton cups and bake until golden.

Best part- you can make them the day before and just reheat when your guests arrive.

Mini scones look complicated but mine are from a mix.

Just add water and drop into tiny spoonfuls onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake.

Serve with mock clotted cream, which is just mascarpone cheese and heavy cream whisked together.

And lemon curd from a jar.

Here’s an entertaining secret- anything tiny for some reason always looks fancy. 

Cheesecake tarts are another way to take something you purchased and break it into little pieces.

Start with a premade sweet mini tart shell.

Then deconstruct a slice of cheesecake.

Layer the pieces into the tart shells and top with a raspberry.

So much fun raising a glass with these girls to our first of many Chicago fêtes!

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