There were so many fabulous people who helped make Sarah's wedding special. The whole crew that showed up to weed the yard, the friend and her family that put together the flowers for the steps, the burly young men who helped set up the tables and chairs, and on and on. But there was one special group that worked their buns off the whole day of the wedding. This post is about and dedicated to the kitchen crew.
Heading up the crew was the amazing Chef Ashley. She's a realio, trulio chef, having graduated from a culinary institute and her day job is planning events for a major downtown hotel. Because she's been friends with Sarah since junior high, she cheerfully took on the job of planning and executing the food for the wedding, asking only for three helpers in the kitchen. I love her passion for food and her unfailing optimism.
The helpers, who we dubbed Kitchen Wenches, were my sister, my mother, and Sarah's Bible study group leader. And Serena pitched in when her jr. bridesmaid duties didn't call her away. They were all incredible!
First of all, Ashley stopped by the evening before the wedding to drop off stuff for the fridge and some munchies for the wedding party for breakfast and lunch. The wedding start time was at 2:00 pm and we had the wedding party plus make-up artist, hair dressers, and families to keep fueled. A Costco tray of croissants, some muffins, and turkey roll-ups served that purpose.
But for the guests, the food went way upscale. There was tray after tray of lovely, mouth-watering appetizers and munchies. Brie cheese, deli meats, cream cheese-stuffed apricot halves, meatballs in barbecue sauce, butterscotch dipped pretzels drizzled in white chocolate. I wish I could tell you what all there was, but I honestly didn't see it. I was way to busy running around like a mad woman, getting my hair done, tacking down the backdrop so it wouldn't billow in the breeze, taking a few hasty pictures of Sarah getting her hair done, helping Sarah into her dress, basting together lace panels for the walkway arch, ditching panels because they were too heavy, finding lighter fabric panels that would work, assigning chores to whoever looked idle, and, oh yes, quickly getting dressed and putting on my makeup because it was time for family pictures.
But I digress. The point is, the food was lovely. And the guests agreed. After the ceremony when the food was taken out to the buffet tables a line quickly snaked around the perimeter of the yard as guests cued up to partake. Unfortunately, whether it was because we didn't serve alcohol, or the guests had neglected lunch, or because the food was all so wonderful, the food went quickly. Too quickly.
One of the people taking trays out to the table came back in and announced that the food was gone and there were still people in line. Ashley laughed and calmly said, "OK, let's see what we can come up with." They raided the refrigerator. They put out the breakfast and lunch leftover Costo food, cut into small pieces and attractively arranged. They cut up the half watermelon that was in the fridge. I came in the kitchen as my sister said, "There's hot dogs in the fridge." And Ashley said, "Oh great, we can cut them up and put them in the barbecue sauce!" They cut up the cheese bricks and arranged those on the fruit tray.
The best part of the day for the kitchen crew was when the Ashley said, "The line's gone, and no one complained!"
I hadn't done any menu planning for after the wedding thinking we'd be eating leftovers for days to come. Well, there were two pieces of cake, a bag of pepperoni, a tub of whipped cream cheese, and a tray of fruit slices. What appetizing meals would you make from that?
The cake was quickly eaten, the pepperoni went on pizza, and cream cheese I can always find a use for. But fruit that's on the slippery slope toward the compost pile? I came up with Fruit Salad Bread. It's kind of a bread, kind of a cake, kind of muffinish. You can play with the fruits you use, put a glaze on top, or put crunchy sugar over it before baking. It moist, flavorful, and if you serve it to company, no one would guess that you're using up leftovers.
(Scroll to the bottom to see about my exciting contest you can enter!)
Fruit Salad Bread
4 cups all-purpose flour
1-3/4 cups sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
1-1/2 cups orange juice
3 cups mixed chopped fruit* (I had strawberries, blueberries, dried cranberries, and dried apricots. I picked out pineapple and melon, since I didn't think they'd bake up well.)
Crunchy sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Grease 2- 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. Cut pieces of parchment paper to fit in the bottom and up the sides of the pans. Put the parchment paper in the pans and grease. If desired, sprinkle crunchy sugar on the bottom and sides of the pans.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal.
In a medium bowl, toss the fruit with 1/4 cup of the flour mixture.
Combine eggs, lemon zest, and orange juice in a large mixing bowl. Add the flour mixture, stirring well. Gently fold in the fruit.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove the bread from pans, peel off the parchment paper, and let cool on wire racks.
* Note on fruit- If you're using leftover fruit that's very juicy, put it in a sieve to drain off the excess juice. You could use that juice, combined with confectioner's sugar to make a glaze for the warm bread.
Yield: 2 loaves
Fun Contest - I made the darling pink apron that you see modeled by my sister. It has Kitchen Wench embroidered on the bib and satin trim on the pockets. I made one for each Kitchen Wench, plus an extra. If you'd like to win one and be part of the ultra-cool crowd who own an exclusive Cookie Baker Lynn original apron, leave me a comment and mention that you'd like to be part of the cool crowd, too. The winner will be decided by an impartial drawing and announced....oh...sometime next week.
(One other note, I didn't take the wedding pictures. I just watermarked them so that they couldn't be jacked, but they're actually the work of the super-talented Kim Hayes, a photographer that Sarah sometimes shoots with.)