Something awesome transpired here Saturday night. Josh and I hosted the inaugural Melties, a semi-formal grilled cheese dinner party.
Let me say that part again. A semi formal grilled cheese dinner party.
You know, as many times as I say it, it never sounds less awesome. All around, it’s probably one of my better ideas. I highly suggest that each and every one of you conduct your own Melties as soon as you can.
Let’s start with the invitation.
A few of our grilled cheese lovin’ friends received the following invitations in the mail (real invitations on real paper sent through snail mail. Retro, I know):
Then we cleaned the house and set the scene: tablecloths, plates, bowls, wine glasses, little votive candles in mason jars, simple elegant tulips. I downloaded an album of the 50 greatest classical music pieces and had it playing on my ipad in the background.
Then we gussied ourselves up. I mean, it was a semi-formal dinner party after all, with some very influential guests. I mean, this was like a who’s who of grilled cheese lovers. We had to look presentable.
Then our friends started to arrive, and they were dressed to the nines. They looked amazing. It was a lot of fun.
As per the invitation, prizes were given to those who went Full Awesome and brought either a monocle or a top hat. Jeff actually made his own monocle and brought that. It was great. Brian got a prize for bringing a top hat…and really, I think he wins for best outfit overall.
And then there was the food. Josh and I prepared some basic sandwiches and invited guests to bring their own combinations as well. We ended up with an unbelievable spread.
Apricot “Grilled Cheese” Puffies (mini puff pastries stuffed with brie and apricot jam)
Fruit plate with whipped cream-cream cheese dip
Tomato (of course)
A medley of grilled cheese sandwiches:
cheddar and ham
green apple and jack cheese
green apple and smoked provolone
fire roasted tomato
Swedish baked cheese and homemade bread (courtesy of Chase and Carrie!)
Brian, Rita and I prepared the ingredients for the sandwiches and then assembled and cooked three or four of each type, cut them into quarters and served them family style on big platters. The idea was so that everyone could try everything without being overloaded. Brian did most of the grilling and he did a fantastic job. We had one electric griddle going and two pans on the stove. The sandwiches that finished first were placed in the oven to keep them warm as we finished up the others.
Dessert, of course, had to be just as classic and classy as the rest of the meal. And I like to think it lived up to the high level of expectation:
freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, still warm from the oven
champagne glasses of whole milk
I made the cookie dough the night before and scooped it out onto cookie sheets, covered them and let them sit in the fridge. Near the end of dinner, I ran into the kitchen and turned on the oven and as we cleaned up the dinner plates, popped in the cookie sheets. Then I just set them out on platters, still warm and gooey, with a roll of paper towels and little champagne flutes filled with milk. A delightful ending to a delightful dinner.
After dinner, we just sat and hang out, finishing off the cookies, the fruit plate and a bit more cheese. Great conversations were had, memories were made, sandwiches were digested.
It was pretty fabulous all around.
Another positive note was that in addition to this being our first “semi-formal” dinner party, as well as the first Melties, it was also my first attempt at making tomato soup. Indeed, not only had I never made tomato soup before, I’d only ever eaten it once. But I drew inspiration from Bee, the queen of Beezy’s (which you’ve heard me talk about before and if you follow me on Twitter, hear me rave about on a weekly basis, pictorally even), who recently gave me a crash course in soup making and thanks to whom I am slowly getting my soup-legs. So I made tomato soup and by all accounts, it was awesome. Everybody wants the recipe. Which would be so fantastic…if only I’d actually used one. Which I didn’t. You know me. Guidelines, pirate’s code and all that. But at the uh….insistent urging of Jeff I’ve written down more or less what what I did, which really wasn’t much.
Lauren’s Tomato Soup
Makes…a lot. I served 11 small bowls’ worth
1 large sweet onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, diced
1 stick butter
2 tbsp Italian herb blend
1 16-oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 32oz cans diced tomatoes
touch of cream
1/2 c. chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter and toss in the onion, garlic, a bit of salt and pepper and the Italian seasoning. Cook until the onions are very soft and have mostly absorbed the butter, about 10 minutes. Add in the can of fire roasted tomatoes and cook for another 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the rest of the tomatoes. Cook on medium, covered, for a half hour. Scoop about 3/4 of the soup into a blender, in batches if need be, and add a splash of cream. Puree until smooth and then pour back into the pot, along with the chicken stock. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook another 15 minutes or so. Serve.
I actually made this soup the day before and just heated it up before the dinner started. I myself am not actually a fan of tomato soup but the Melties attendees seemed to love it–and these people know their food.
So there you have it. The first semi-annual Melties. Here’s to grilled cheese wishes and chocolate chip dreams!