Last night was our 4th annual Summer Reading Event to benefit the foundation that supports our local public school district. In past years we have held this event on a weekday morning and invited folks to a book brunch. This year, we decided to move it to the evening, in hopes we would draw in new guests. We were successful!
This is how the event works:
- 9 hosts choose 3 books each from their favorites over the last year or so
- The hosts purchase 3 copies of each of their 3 books
- We invite 27 guests (with books) and 10 guests (e-reader option)
- After hosts describe their books, each guest chooses three new books to take home
- We eat and drink!
This year I decided to tackle the food, feeling a bit blue that my books had not been well received in prior years (I read obscure Scandinavian crime novels, what did I really expect) and since it was an evening event, I thought I should make it a little special. One of our group hosted the party at her home, which is beautiful with an open floor plan, and with the temperatures warming up and summer almost here, I was inspired to put together a fresh seasonal menu for the evening.
- Chilled Carrot Soup with Cumin and Lime
- Gougerés with Proscuitto and Parmesan, and Smoked Salmon and mustard/dill sauce
- Fava Bean crostini with sheep feta
- Cucumber cups with Shrimp Salad with Tarragon
The carrots, fava beans and tarragon all came from Mariquita Farms in our regular weekly box. The gougerés were from a recipe by Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. Frog Hollow donated the apricots, Rainier cherries, and pastries and cookies. The other recipes are linked above. I prepped everything ahead of time and at the party location we set up little stations and other hosts help me with assembling and platter presentation.
My critique of the food: Carrot soup was good, but I did not need to make a double batch, one was enough! The smoked salmon gougerés were my favorite, the sauce worked really well, definitely will repeat. The fava bean puree needed more salt, and I did not love the crostini recipe, but the puree hid that well. And the Shrimp Salad with Tarragon needed stronger flavoring, maybe even salt, it was very mild for an appetizer and I think needed more punch. I did not add the called-for onion to the mustard/dill sauce, it was great without.
We served about 35 people last night, and a single batch of gougerés (about 40) would have been sufficient. I used 2 baguettes for the crostini, and that was perfect. One cup of favas into puree would have been enough. I used 6 English cucumbers for the cups, and could have used 4. Filled some of them with hummus for a vegetarian option.
Other than that, a great party! Our book list for this year includes:
- The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate
- Quiet: The Power of the Introvert in a World that won’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain
- Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich
- The Round House, by Louise Erdrich
- Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
- Personal History, by Katharine Graham
- Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea, by Blaine Harden
- Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived, by Ralph Helpher
- The Map and the Territories, by Michel Houellebecq
- The Dinner, by Herman Koch
- Sweet Tooth, by Ian McEwan
- A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry
- Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story, by Paul Monette
- Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes
- The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddharta Mukherjee
- 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami
- No Crystal Stair, by Vaunda Michaeux
- Wonder, by RJ Palacio
- Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated and Underachieving Young Men, by Leonard Sax
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple
- Bomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon, by Steve Sheinkin
- Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan
- The Shoemaker’s Wife, by Adriana Trigiani
- Creating Innovators, by Tony Wagner
- The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson
- Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
- How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, by Toby Young