Rio Summer Games Potluck Party

Who says pro athletes get to have all the fun?
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Who says pro athletes get to have all the fun?
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I'm constantly getting lost in Instagram wormholes and discovering new accounts to follow. When I discovered Tieghan, of Half Baked Harvest, during one of these scroll-holes, I was instantly impressed with the quality of her entertaining ideas and food photography. She struck me as the embodiment of the Cupcakes and Cashmere girl, so it was an automatic fit when she reached out by chance about working together. The day she stopped by our office to chat, we became engrossed in discussion of the summer games in Rio (more on that below), and the idea of throwing an opening ceremonies potluck party was born. (She also happened to bring by a peanut butter dessert bar that was so good the whole office still talks about). I'm thrilled to introduce you to her work, via a topic most of you know I am very passionate about: The Olympics. The party she planned turned out better than I could have imagined, and I'm so excited for this to inspire your celebration on Friday (and beyond). Enjoy! -Emily 

First off, hi! For those of you who may not know me, I’m Tieghan, the creator of the food blog, Half Baked Harvest. Like many of you, I’ve been a long-time reader of Cupcakes And Cashmere. Growing up, I always thought I would be a fashion stylist, living in L.A. and dressing all the celebs, but then life threw me my own little curveball and I put all my creative energy into producing, photographing, and styling new recipes for my blog. I could not think of anything I would rather be doing now. It’s funny how life works, huh? 

When I met with Emily in the C & C offices in L.A., it didn't take long for the conversation to turn to the summer games—we're both majorly obsessed with them, and my little brother is currently training with the U.S. snowboarding team for the 2018 Winter Games. By the end of our meeting, it became clear that we needed to combine forces and create a summer games-inspired potluck.

My favorite part about throwing potlucks—besides being responsible for fewer dishes—is that the guests inspire the foods. Alina is from Cuba, so she inspired a Cuban Medianoche sandwich and since Emily was just in Paris, crêpes were a must. My family was just in Mexico, so I opted for a Mexican fruit salad. Such a fun idea, right? Here's how to throw your own summer games potluck (with recipes and photos below): 

1. Invite your guests. Let them know this will be an “Opening Ceremonies Potluck," (or centered around a specific sporting event you're excited about). Be sure to tell them to bring a dish symbolic of their heritage. If you have more than one guest with the same cultural background just have fun with it! Ask where they last traveled, or maybe where they’ve always wanted to go? Otherwise, simply make sure your friends aren’t bringing the same dish, no big deal. Oh, and be sure to provide snacks like fresh fruits and veggies, they’re a terrific, healthy appetizer, plus they make for a really pretty table. 

2. Prep for the party. A sports-inspired summer party wouldn't be complete without games to play while chatting and eating. For this party, I set out soccer balls, hula-hoops, and a croquet kit. 

3. Set the mood. I like to keep things pretty simple but festive. I made themed rings out of embroidery hoops that I simply wrapped in washi tape to create the five colors of the rings. I also positioned mini flag toothpicks in each dish, placing the flag of the correlating country on top of their respective dish. Another cute idea is to place mini hand-held flags in vintage ball jars around your table so guests can choose the flag of the country they're rooting for. Last but not least, don’t forget the flowers.

4. Make some drinks! You simply can’t have a summer party without drinks—especially when they are Rum Swizzles made to resemble the torch. These are all kinds of delicious, and perfect for entertaining (see the recipe below). Make the drinks ahead of time in a pitcher and pour over ice when ready to serve. It’s also important to have other beverages on hand for those who prefer beer or water. Sticking with the “around the globe” theme, try to gather beers from all over the world - think: Mexican, German, Canadian, British, American. It was actually pretty fun to walk around the liquor store searching for beers from all over the world. After that, just fill a big bucket with ice to keep your drinks cold all night long.

5. Don't forget dessert. The cake I chose is the “American” recipe, and it's everything. Vanilla cake with a strawberry-meringue buttercream, topped with the cutest “torch” and sparklers. The torch is made using a waffle cone filled with your choice of whipped cream, ice cream, or buttercream, and decorated with edible gold stars. 

All the recipes from this potluck are provided below, but the best part of this party is that it welcomes creative dishes from the places you love most. Be sure to tag Emily and me on Instagram so that we can see your killer summer games potlucks! If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments and I'll do my best to respond.

Happy kick-off to the 2016 summer games!

xx - Tieghan

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Rum Swizzle

Makes 6 drinks

8 ounces gold rum
6 ounces pineapple juice
6 ounces orange juice 
Juice of 2 lemons
4 dashes angostura bitters
6 teaspoons grenadine 
Crushed ice, to serve
6 pineapple wedges, as garnish
6 slices ripe peach or nectarine, as garnish
6 slices seeded cantaloupe, as garnish

In a large pitcher, combine the gold rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, lemon juice, and angostura bitters. Stir vigorously until well combined. Chill until cold, at least 1 hour or until ready to serve. Stir before serving.

To serve, fill your glass with ice and pour the rum swizzle over. Spoon 1 teaspoon of grenadine over top of each drink and garnish with fresh fruit. Drink!

Cuban Medianoche* 

Makes 16 mini sandwiches

1 pound pork tenderloin
Kosher salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice from 1 orange (about 2 tablespoons)
2 limes, juiced
1 teaspoon dried oregano 
1/2 teaspoon cumin
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 
2 tablespoons mustard
12 mini Hawaiian sub buns
12 slices deli ham
12 slices swiss cheese
24 to 32 dill pickle chips

Preheat the oven to 425° F.

Place the pork in a roasting pan. Using a paring knife, make slash marks all over the pork. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Rub garlic over the pork, making sure some of the garlic gets into those slashes. Add the olive oil, orange juice, oregano, and cumin, then toss the pork to coat. 

Place in the oven and roast for 35 to 40 minutes or until the pork registers 150° F on an internal thermometer, at the thickest point. Remove from the oven and let cool 15 minutes, then slice thinly. 

In a small bowl, mix together the butter and mustard. Open your sub rolls and spread the inside of each roll with the butter/mustard spread. Divide the ham, pork, cheese, and pickles evenly among each sub roll. At this point, the sandwiches can be covered and refrigerated until ready to serve.

The sandwiches can either be served cold or to serve warm, heat a tablespoon of butter in a skillet set over medium heat and cook the sandwiches 3 minutes per side or until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately. 

*Recipe adapted from Serious Eats

Crêpes

Makes 10 crêpes

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 cup milk (I use 2%)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
Optional fillings: Nutella, fresh peaches and blue cheese (brie or goat cheese are also great!), prosciutto and honey

Add the butter to a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Whisk constantly until brown bits appear on the bottom, about 5 to 6 minutes, then immediately remove from heat and let cool. Combine the eggs, milk, flour, vanilla, salt, and 1/3 cup water in a blender or food processor. Add the browned butter from the saucepan and pulse for 30 seconds or until well combined. If time allows, place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.

To make the crepes, heat a 12-inch nonstick pan over medium heat. Spray the pan with cooking spray or melt with butter to coat. Pour 1/3 cup of crepe batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook another 10 seconds and then remove the crepe to a plate. Continue to make the crepes until all the batter is gone. 

Fill each crêpe as desired.

Burrata Fig Crostini

Makes 8 

8 slices thick-cut sourdough bread (use your favorite gluten-free bread if needed)
Olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt and pepper
Fig preserves
8 ounces burrata cheese
8 slices fresh prosciutto
8 fresh figs, sliced in half 
2 fresh sprigs of thyme, roughly chopped
12 fresh basil leaves, roughly torn if large
Zest from 1 lemon
Honey, for drizzling
8 sprigs lemon thyme or thyme

Preheat your grill to high heat, or preheat your oven to 450° F. Place the slices of bread on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil on both sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the bread slices on the grill and grill both sides for about 2 to 3 minutes per side or until lightly charred. Remove from the grill.

Spread the fig preserves evenly among each piece of toasted bread. Break the burrata and arrange over the preserves. Layer on the prosciutto, figs, thyme, zest, and basil. Drizzle each piece of bread with honey and garnish with thyme sprigs. Season with salt and pepper

Mexican Fruit Salad

Serves 8 to 12

2 ripe mangos, peeled, pit removed and diced
2 cups cubed watermelon 
2 cups blackberries or blueberries
1 ripe but firm avocado, peeled, pit removed and diced
Juice from 2 limes
1 to 2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped, depending on your taste
1/3 cup packed fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Salt, to taste

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients. Taste and adjust spiciness and salt as needed.

Truffled Pecorino Popcorn

Makes about 5 cups

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons white truffle oil
Flaky sea salt
Olive oil
5 cups air or stove popped popcorn
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
Pepper, to taste 

In a small saucepan, melt together the butter and truffle oil.

Pop your popcorn on the stove or in an air popper. I used a stovetop popcorn popper, but a large cast iron pot works great too!

Add the warm popcorn to a large bowl and toss with the pecorino cheese. Add the butter and toss well to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Strawberry Vanilla Cake

Makes one (3 layer) cake

For the cake:
3 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups canola oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 whole eggs 
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups full-fat canned coconut milk or whole milk
1 waffle cone
1 cup whipped cream or extra vanilla frosting
Melted white chocolate
gold sprinkles
fresh strawberries, for decorating

For the strawberry vanilla buttercream:
6 eggs whites
1 cup granulated sugar
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) salted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup freeze-dried strawberries, finely crushed into a powder

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line three 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper, then butter/spray with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand held mixer) beat together the canola oil, sugar, eggs and egg yolks and vanilla until smooth. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients with the mixer on low until there are no longer any clumps of flour. Add the milk and mix until combined. Batter should be pourable, but not super thin. Stir in the lemon zest.

Pour the batter among the 3 cake pans and bake 25 to 30 minutes, until the tops are just set and no longer wiggly in the center. Remove and let cool five minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the pan. Grab 3 large flat plates, line them with wax or parchment paper, and invert the cakes onto the paper-lined plates. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting. 

To make the frosting, bring a large pot (big enough to place your mixing bowl over top) of water to boil. In the bowl of a stand mixer whisk the egg whites and sugar together. Place the bowl of the stand mixer over the pot of boiling water and cook, stirring often, until the egg whites are very warm to the touch and the sugar has dissolved, then remove the bowl from the heat. Whip the egg whites on high until stiff peaks form. Allow the egg whites to cool before continuing, about 5 minutes.

Once cool, add the butter and vanilla. Beat until combined and fluffy. Remove about 1 1/2 cups of the buttercream and set aside. To the remaining buttercream, stir in the freeze-dried strawberries (make sure you have crushed the strawberries into a powder). 

To assemble, place 1 cake layer, flat side-up, on a plate or cake stand. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with the strawberry frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the strawberry frosting evenly on the top. Finally, add the third cake layer. Frost the bottom 2/3 of the cake with strawberry frosting and then the remaining 1/3 of the cake and the top of the cake with just the vanilla frosting. 

To decorate, dip your waffle cone in melted white chocolate and cover in gold sprinkles. Place the cone in the freezer until the chocolate has hardened, about 10 minutes. Place the cone in the center of the cake, pushing it down until the cone feels secure. Place the strawberries around the cone to help it stay upright. Fill the cone with whipped cream. Decorate the cake as desired. I used edible gold stars to sprinkle on my cone for a golden torch effect. Keep the cake in the fridge until ready to serve, this helps to keep the cone in place. 

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