Monday, October 4, 2010

Sunset, soiree and seafood ...

It's official at my house. Summer has come to a close, and we celebrated the occasion with an 'End of Summer' Sunset Soiree last night, featuring a season finale menu of seafood.

I love it when the sun sets in the Texas sky, the candle-lit table takes center stage and friends gather round to share a meal and great conversation.

Remember the candle holders and napkins I made and shared with you a few weeks ago? Here they are shown ready for guests.

The rope-trimmed glass hurricanes and linen napkins were great fun to make for the occasion, and adding to the festive tablescape was even more fun. I decorated the table with petite floral arrangements in tiny tin buckets with flowers from my garden. My new, Argentine 'birthday gift' plates from Pier One (thanks, honey!) are set on rustic metal chargers for a casual meal under the wisteria.

Okay, I realize I have a plate obsession, but you just never know when you may need a couple hundred nice plates on a moment's notice - using nice dishware. (I know I've got it covered, just in case.)

We started the evening with wine, champagne and mini crab cake appetizers in the studio before heading to the pergola for dining.

Our first course began with a mixed green salad of Romaine and Iceberg lettuce, tomato, cucumber, bacon and fried wontons, topped with a homemade Parmesan Ranch dressing.

If my favorite salad and dressing sound familiar, it may be that you have eaten it at a Bravo! Restaurant. This link takes you to their 'secret' recipe provided by Uncle Phaedrus. Just scroll down to Insalata della Casa.

Next, came our entree of Gulf Shrimp Creole on a bed of rice, served with Cheddar Biscuits (these are the tasty biscuits from the Red Lobster Restaurant recipe.) We finished the evening with Pecan Tarts and Carrot Cake.

My Shrimp Creole recipe is a local favorite, served during Lenten Lunches at St. Mark's Church in downtown San Antonio.  Enjoy!

1 lb raw, cleaned shrimp
1 (1 lb.) can tomatoes
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 green pepper, chopped
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon gumbo file
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon bacon drippings

Fry onions, celery, garlic, green pepper and parsley in bacon drippings until soft.  Add tomato paste, canned tomatoes and 1 cup of water to thin.  Add other ingredients, except gumbo file, and cook slowly, about 1 hour.  Add raw shrimp and cook 15 minutes.  Then add gumbo file.  Serve over cooked rice.

Serves 6 to 8.

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