Jun 9, 2011

DJ Party! Electrolux "Are You Party Ready?" Event

Scenario:  I'm at home in my jammies, watching pre-recorded episodes of reality shows I'd rather not disclose, fast becoming one with the couch, and there's a knock at my door.  Jack, the Jack Russell Terrorist, flies off the couch and with as much macho as his little body can muster, yaps a series of annoyingly high-pitched warning barks at the unseen threat on the other side.  After I clumsily pull the little monster away from his inscrutable prey, I open the door to find my good friend and his family, who thought they'd drop by on their way to Lake Tahoe.  Jack does a 180 and greets them warmly.  I do the same, but in the back of my mind, I'm wondering...

Am I Party Ready?

As is the important question posed to me and a bunch of other bloggers, who have been presented by FoodBuzz and Electrolux, the challenge of offering impromptu party tips.  

Here's what I came up with...

Tip #1:  Feed your guests in a fun, interactive, non-boring way.
The most fun food I've ever had at a party, was a make-your-own-pita-pocket bar.  When you're involved in making the food (or assembling it)... it just tastes better!

Appetizer Cocktails

This is a slightly more elegant D.I.Y. food bar, that can be done with any assortment of glassware that seems appropriate to you, and some cute little shrimp forks (forking cute) that I picked up at World Market. 

This can be done with a variety of different ingredients.  You can use potatoes, pasta, rice, bread, etc. as the base.  I used baby potatoes, and deep fried rice balls (I like to call them "rice cubes").  I had fun with the theme, and served them in my ice cube bucket.

"Rice Cubes" shaped, frozen, battered, and fried.  
Making these rice cubes is a great way to save and use your leftover rice.  My family eats a LOT of rice, and when there's leftovers, I roll them up into balls and stick them in my freezer.  Just use and reuse a small square of plastic wrap to shape the balls and place in a single layer into a zip lock freezer bag. 
I originally just put them into a deep fryer until crisp on the outside.  They were delicious, but turned hard after cooling down.  I remedied this by dunking them into a tempura batter (rice flour, cold seltzer water, pinch of salt) before frying.  They kept a good texture, and stayed white- good for the ice cube theme!  Do make sure to use sticky medium or short grain rice.

Next, serve with complimentary foods.  I made vegan sausage skewers, marinated sauteed tempeh, sauteed mushrooms, peas, and artichokes, caramelized onions, fresh cilantro, and homemade garlic aioli and terriyaki sauce.  All of these were easy, flavorful, and quick to make.

Tip #2:  (This is the hard one) Keep good stuff in your freezer for unexpected occasions.
Mini Cheesecakes... make 'em and freeze 'em... then eat 'em later.
Oh, who am I kidding?  Things fly out of my freezer like tweets about lying congressmen.  But even though I haven't been following this tip, I think I should start... I really really do.  It cuts down on time- the most precious thing you'll need when entertaining!

For this particular event, I played around with different things that would be good to keep in my freezer, and froze some things ahead of time to test my theories out.  Yeah, it's sort of cheating, but what the hell?
For my Appetizer Cocktails, I used frozen peas, frozen leftover rice (above), frozen artichoke hearts from Trader Joe's, and frozen veggie egg rolls from Costco (yeah, their vegan!).  I also made some mini cheesecakes from my previous recipe, and froze/ thawed them.  Excellent.

Tip #3:  For informal parties, always serve things that taste great at room temperature.
DJs helping themselves after playing a set on the decks
Mark shows them how it's done

For the Appetizer Bar, I served things that were quick to make, as well as tasty after they cooled down to room temp.  Mark showed me how to boil the potatoes, then shocked in ice water.  It turns out that frying or roasting them would result in dry potatoes after they cooled down.  This way, they stayed creamy and delicious!  I also served mushrooms sauteed in olive oil and a little Earth Balance non-hydrogenated margarine (a.k.a. vegan butter), browned sausage skewered with fresh tomatoes, sauteed tempeh that had been marinating in the fridge overnight, and carmelized onions.  Most things took only a few minutes in a hot skillet, and stayed tasty throughout the event.  Others could be made ahead of time, and stored in the fridge to be brought out later.

Tip #4:  Make use of what you got... as well as your brain.
... the right side of your brain, that is.  Be creative, and your guests will appreciate it!

Fruit served in my bundt pan and placed on top of our old turntable that we don't use anymore... but it still turns!
You got skills if you can pick up moving fruit!

Our buddy Butterscotch, putting "rice cubes" in her cocktail

DJ Scratch Rock, rockin' Cee's Baba Ganoush Sunflower Hummus (above)... YUM!
Video DJing... on the ceiling!!!
So... Are YOU party ready?  What clever tips do you have?

If you'd like to visit the Electrolux site, they are giving away some cool appliances right now and donating to charity for all those who participate.


  1. That looks like an awesome party. I wish I had been there!

    All I have ready for a party is some cookies in the freezer, some veggie dogs and puff pastry to make "pigs" in a blanket, and ingredients for hummus. Not too shabby, I guess!

  2. Absolutely amazing food, beautifully displayed and so yummy looking...excellent!

    I am having trouble commenting on many blogs, so I am commenting anonymously...this is Millie.

  3. You are so clever! My short cuts aren't revolutionary, I'm a big fan of freezing half of everything I make because it never gets eaten in time. I recently had a post about kitchen sink tapas that use wonton wraps, and I like that. When it gets really hot and I don't want to bake I'm content to melt vegan chocolate chips and dip newman o's and pretzels in them, then store in fridge/freezer for an emergency or pot luck dinner.

  4. Now that is a fun assignment! I have no tips because I'm party-inept, but I'd sure love to go to one of your rocking parties and learn from the master. ;)

  5. Looks like you all had a blast! I like keeping cheese in the fridge and puff pastry in the freezer. Always great for a party!