Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Grace Under Pressure

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
2 eggs
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.)


LizNoVeggieGirl said...

Such a lovely helping crew, and great-looking food!! Mmm, that Fruit Salad Bread sounds delicious as well!!

Lynn, that apron is too cute!! You have a knack for sewing, for sure.

Peabody said...

I am already part of the ultra cool crowd, owning a pea pod one! Which I love and use constantly!
Looks like you had quite the spread at the wedding. It all looks so good.

Sandra said...

Weddings are so fun, but so much work. Many hands make light work and you were so blessed to have so much help. It looks lovely.

I would love to be part of the cool crowd, too.

LyB said...

Count me in as one who'd like to be part of the cool crowd!

The wedding sounds like it went off without a hitch, that is so great. And the food does sound fabulous. You are so creative coming up with fruit salad bread, I love that you call it "kind of muffinish", cute!

Sean said...

Those aprons were indeed an awesome idea! Aunt D looked perfect in it. I still feel so badly about Ashley's crock pot though! I hope she can get that clean up all right...

The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

I wanna be cool! Since high shcool, I never thought I'd get another chance!

Big Boys Oven said...

wow! We are also in a mist of preparing a wedding dessert this saturday, gosh tell me about it ! :)

Kelly-Jane said...

Congratulations to all :) Ashley sounds like a great chef, and so calm too!

I don't know if I'm ready to be part of the cool crowd, but I'll give it a go!

Anonymous said...

Well, like Peabody, I am already Cookie Baker Lynn cool, as I have a designer apron from her fair hand too!
Chef Ashley's apron, with the Batman emblem print is WAY cool and a super hero's apron for sure!
The fruit bread sounds really good.
That is very clever thinking to use leftover fruit. Way too good for the compost heap.
I will not put myself forward to win another apron, as that would not be fair, but I will wish everyone else good luck at the chance to be exclusively cool!

Sans Famille said...

That apron is lovely! What a cute present for the kitchen helpers. I'd love to win one.

Lucie said...

cuuuute apron! a little French jeune fille would like to be part of the cool crowd!

Maria said...

I want to be in the cool crowd!

Looks like the food was great. Glad you had fun!

I just got married and we did all of our food and desserts. We had a spread!! It was SO fun!!

Anonymous said...

I would love to be part of the cool club.

The food all sounds delicious!

Patricia Scarpin said...

These are the real friends, Lynn. Precious people!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Mine's not a pea pod like Peabody's or a kitchen wench one but I hope I'm in the cool crowd with my red check one and I have sort of baked in your kitchen.
This is a wonderful write up for the kitchen. A grand day. A grand save on feeding the crowd. A grand save on the leftovers in your wonderful magic Lynn style!!

Karen Baking Soda said...

Oh wow what a story! There is no wedding without a fantastic story to remember and laugh at for years to come. Great save!
I'm not sure if I'm cool enough for the crowd..but I love the apron so I'm going to beg for the pattern anyway hehe...

Cakespy said...

What a wedding!!! Looks like nobody was left hungry!! And that apron is awesome!! Wow, can I be signed up!? I wanna be cool! Those are really nice photos too :-)

Elle said...

Love a wedding write up where the star is the food! Heheheee. Nice photos and it sounds like everything was so delish that it went in a flash. So nice to have so many helpers and a realio chef, too. Hope you can take some time to relax now...and I'd love to be entered in the drawing for that gorgeous apron.

SteamyKitchen said...

Congratulations Sarah!!!

Aimée said...

I was wondering WHEN you had time to take those great photos!
Sounds like the food was good!!

giz said...

But of course I'd like to be part of the "cool crowd". I don't even own an apron and as many hints that I've spread around, I still don't have an apron. I love that fruit bread.

It looks like a good time.

Mauri said...

i always love at least trying to be cool...
ps i love the photos on your blog, just looking at them make me hungry. now i just have to be brave and try to bake some of them.

RecipeGirl said...

So glad it was a success. Everything looks so yummy!!!

Taterina said...

that apron is adorable, and I want to be cool too!

Arlene Delloro said...

I would love to be part of the cool crowd. You were lucky to have a chef who could think on her feet. It must have been wonderful food.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

The kitchen crew can be so underappreciated but they make it or break it:D

Anonymous said...

I'd like to be part of the cool crowd, and I'd LOVE to wear that adorable apron to do all my baking in!

Deborah said...

Well, who wouldn't want to be part of the cool crowd?? :)

I'm so impressed with your kitchen crew. To be so level headed and pull off running out of food is great. Looks like you got the right people for the job!

Anonymous said...

Is the contest still open?

Wahoo! I love those aprons. You are a very careful seamstress with a heck of a sense of humor.

My condolences to your ovens.

SilverMoon Dragon said...

Yum. This fruit bread was delicious. I just wanted to let you know that I loved it so much I used it for my entry in this months Monthly Blog Patrol.

My kids and family loved this too, and the kids had a ball making it!