Starting with gougères.
Have you ever had these before? In my opinion, they are the hostesses secret weapon. They are so easy. You can make them ahead of time and freeze them until 30 minutes before the party, ensuring that you pull warm, cheesy goodness out of the oven at the exact moment your guests arrive. Basically, gougères use the same base as cream puffs. But instead of making them sweet, you make them savory by adding lots of salty cheese, black pepper, and fresh herbs. They are hollow and eggey inside, and are perfect for stuffing with whatever strikes your fancy.
For the baby shower, we went with apple tarragon chicken salad:
But any filling would work. Cold cuts, egg salad, or nothing at all- I have even made miniature ones with great success. They are delicious with a glass of wine and a side salad for a quick dinner, and I have even had one or two with coffee for breakfast.
Can you tell I am fan?
In addition to the gougères, we had one of my all-time favorite brunch items- warm broiled grapefruit. So easy and so pretty, you simply halve the grapefruits, segment them, and sprinkle with brown sugar. Before serving, pour champagne over the top (it flows into all the nooks and crannies!), and broil until the sugar has melted and the grapefruits are warm. They are so delicious and so elegant. For the shower, we sprinkled ours with pomegranate seeds.
Fresh banana bread, a side salad, and an old standby (oatmeal chocolate chip muffins, of course) rounded out the meal, which was light and delicious.
As we tied everything together, the extra origami paper became rather useful. We used it to fancy up the menu, and as the background for the games we played:
And the finale of the day was another easy, beautiful and satisfying choice. What else but strawberry shortcake?
All in all, we had a wonderful time. It was such a gift to get to celebrate Margot's arrival with Lissa and her friends, and to see all the long-distance planning come to fruition.