We live just a few blocks away from the festival locale which meant for a busy weekend of tourists and locals coming to check out the fun. Our party was a blast and our guests were treated to a fireworks display, courtesy of the Riverfest folks at the end of the evening. Now, I had planned on posting a complete party menu but well, you know the "best laid plans", etc.I photographed most of the food prep and none of the final product, save for this little frozen treat. So, if you will forgive me, I will post some of my prep and leave the final outcome to your culinary imagination.
I did most of the cooking the day before the party. If you can do this, it makes for a much more relaxed and organized day of the party for you. I made the Chicken Wings with Red Hot Honey Glaze and Blue Cheese Celery dip found on my post from the 4th of July. They can be served at room temperature and the flavor of the sauce is better when they sit a day.
Also made the day before were the brats. I did this is 3 steps. Step one: heat up 2 bottles of beer in a large pan with 2 sliced large sweet onions to which you have added a bit of salt, pepper and a fat pinch of ground cloves. When the onions begin to simmer, lay on the brats. I had to do mine in batches since I made 15 of them.
Cover the brats and simmer for 5 minutes, then turn them, cover and simmer 5 more minutes. You can then remove them from the pan, let cool and refrigerate. The next day, bring the brats almost room temp, pop on a moderately hot grill and cook about 10 more minutes until nice and browned.
Step two: back to the onions. After removing the brats, take the onions out of the pan with tongs. Place them in a bowl, let cool and in the fridge they go. Next day, cook them on the grill till nice and golden in a pan made for the grill. Yum!
Step three: back again to the pan. Now, add to the beer a bag of fresh, drained sauerkraut. Bring this to a simmer and cook til most of the liquid has been absorbed.
Same as above, let cool and chill. Serve the next day at room temp. Let me tell you, this is a delicious trio!
Another recipe to note was Ina Garten's Herb Dip. You can go to the link for the recipe. I did not use the blanched crudites, instead I used fresh vegetables. I chose golden and regular baby cut carrots, sliced cucumbers, a selection of heirloom cherry tomatoes and celery. I did use fresh herbs from the garden and lightened up the recipe with 1/3 fat cream cheese and 0% fat greek yogurt. Again, I made this a day in advance and it was great with the veggies.
In addition, we had chips, salsa, hummus, and potato salad as well as a selection of beer, wine and pop.
For the filling, I prepared an adaptation of Ina's Vanilla Ice Cream (recipe to follow). Let the ice cream harden in the freezer at least 2 hours, then place in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes to soften. To assemble, first match up your cookies into similar size/shape pairs. Then, working quickly, place a small scoop of ice cream between the cookies and place on a wax paper lined pan. Place the pan in the freezer until the sandwiches have frozen solid, then again, working quickly, wrap each sandwich in saran wrap, place in a large zip lock bag and freeze until ready to serve. I piled them in a bowl and let them sit in the fridge to soften a bit. It's a great party treat, everyone gets an individual serving, complete with a wrapper to hold it with.
2 cups half & half
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup vanilla sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds
Heat the liquids, sugar, vanilla, vanilla pod and vanilla seeds in a small saucepan only until the sugar is dissolved. Be sure the sugar is dissolved - you will no longer feel any grittiness from the sugar if you rub some liquid between your fingers. Strain into a bowl, cover, and chill very well. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer's directions. This may take a bit longer since you are using milk and not all heavy cream. Spoon into a freezer container and allow to chill in the freezer for a few hours. Allow to soften before serving.
I chose to not use the heavy cream as in the original recipe after reading the posted reviews and to save a few calories. I also cut the vanilla bean in half because it was so darn expensive and used the vanilla sugar I always have around. This is a great recipe if you are into vanilla bean ice cream. One taster said it reminded them of Dairy Queen softserve, which is soooo good.
Hope you enjoy these recipes!