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Father's Day inspiration from the blogosphere

First, we have this delightful dessert from Bakerella. LOVE!

Who doesn't love trompe l'oeil food?


Is it bad that I started with dessert? Well, life is uncertain.  Dad can not live on cookies alone, though, so serve this Beer in the Rear Chicken from Bell'alimentovia (via Foodgawker) or Bobby Flay's Garlic Butter Burger on BBQ Nation.


What to give?

If you'd rather buy a gift, check out Extreme Craft's round-up of clever Etsy items for dad - love the wrench cufflinks!


A tie for Father's Day? Just what I wanted!

If you're hosting a Father's Day fête, here's a classic but cute napkin fold for your table.  This link has complete instructions.

If you're going to do this, spice up the look with mismatched nakins, or set Dad's place with a bold pattern and the rest with coordinating solids.  Start with this batik from World Market or bold stripe from Pier One. (mulitple locations nationwide and throughout Chicagoland)


Basics of Entertaining: Classes!

You know there's a wealth of information on blogs, books, and tv shows that will help you become a stellar host...but what if you're ready for more? Where can you go for a hands-on experience and immediate feedback?  Take a class!  Of course there are lots of options in Chicago, but here are some of the best:

Chicago School of Flower Design
- 8 week intensive course

Learn, Cook, Eat
- Private, in-home lessons (for groups or one-on-one) as well as public classes by a trained chef.
Chopping Block - Variety of classes held at two locations - Lincoln Square and Merchandise Mart.

Cakewalk Chicago
- Variety of classes, prices vary.  South side.
French Pastry School of Chicago - this is where the pros go to learn, but they also have 3-day courses for "the food enthusiast" (gah! They're claiming to offering "high tea"....pretty sure they mean "afternoon tea".)

Chicago Wine School
- Five week course or one night seminars.  Highly recommended!  Downtown.

General Entertaining
Savvy Host
- single session classes offered once/twice a month

 Did you take a similar class somewhere?  How was it?  Share your experience in the comments!


Insider's Guide to Ravinia on Chicagonista

Whether you live in our fair city or are just passing through, you must spend a few hours on a warm summer night at Ravinia Festival in Highland Park.  In addition to being a fabulous music venue, it's the perfect place to create a memorable evening with friends.  Starting today, I'll be posting twice a month on Chicagonista.com, and today's post features insider tips on how to make the most of your visit to this hallowed local institution (the "insider" part comes from having worked at the park for a season).  Check it out!


Operation Watermelon Bombe - Successful!

Remember this post about watermelon? Well, it inspired me to make my own version of Martha Stewart's Watermelon Bombe!

Second City Soiree's Simplified Watermelon Bombe
Serves about 8

You will need:
2 pints pistachio ice cream
1 pint vanilla ice cream
2 pints watermelon sorbet or gelato
Angel food or sponge cake
Chocolate wafers or similar cookie (I used 5 chocolate pizzelles)
3 quart metal bowl
Food coloring
plastic wrap

If you live in Chicago, all can be purchased at the brand new Whole Foods of Ridiculous Proportions off of North Avenue.

How to do it:
1) Line the inside of the metal bowl with plastic wrap, and put in freezer.

2) Soften 2 pints of pistachio ice cream. You can either do this in a mixer or just let it stand on the counter until it's soft. My pistachio ice cream was almost white, so I stirred in 5 drops green food coloring. Spread around the inside of the bowl in an even coat. Freeze until hard.

3) Soften 1 pint vanilla ice cream. Spread over the pistachio layer. Freeze until hard.

4) Soften 2 pints watermelon gelato or sorbet. I used Whole Food's watermelon sorbet, which turned out to be more like a gelato. I added three drops of red food coloring. Chop up a chocolate wafer into small, watermelon seed shaped pieces.  Fold gently into the gelato, so as not to break up the pieces. Pack into the center of the mold, but leave an inch or two of room at the top. Freeze until hard.

5) Slice about 1.5" of an angel food cake lengthwise and press it down on top of the watermelon layer.  Depending on the size of the cake, you might have to trim the edges. Freeze at least 30 minutes.

6) When ready to eat, invert the bowl over a plate. It should pop right out, but if it doesn't, use a hot towel or hairdryer to heat up the bowl while inverted. Peel off the plastic wrap, slice with a hot knife, and eat! :D


YUM! Thanks to my friend Chris for snapping this photo, as I forgot to bring my camera to his house.

Why I think this recipe is better than some of the others out there
Well, I love Martha, but hers is just too complicated. With so many quality ice cream brands on the market, I see no reason to make your own unless you want the experience of doing so.  Same thing with the sponge cake.

On the other hand, her recipe is far superior to some others that call for fruity sherbets (i.e. lime for the outer layer) and chocolate chips in place of chocolate wafers. Her ice cream suggestions are much tastier, and I personally don't care for frozen chocolate chips. Also, the cake layer is genius, as it soaks up the melted ice cream as you're eating it.

You can do this!  It's super easy.  The photo above shows my first attempt, which I think turned out really well!  I have a feeling that ice cream bombes are going to be my new "thing" when asked to bring dessert to a party...

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