On December 1, 2007, Anthony and I threw our “Pressed Apples Make More Cider” party. It included a variety of refreshments (see the menu below), sustained merriment, a little debauchery, and a good old-fashioned reading. Our wonderful guests read fiction, poetry, and plays that they had authored around the themes of cider and apples.
The party people came from Baltimore, Boston, and New York; many had attended college with us and majored in the Writing Seminars. During our senior year of college, the Writing Sems started a Reading Series. Each Monday night, at the back of the Hopkins Deli, 2-4 students would read their pieces in front of a packed audience of friends. On Tuesdays, we met at CVP (the lovely Charles Village Pub, how I miss your grubby glory) for our Writing Sems Happy Hour. Over large quantities of alcohol, we discussed classes, fiction, and professors. Those were the days.
The idea for our Pressed Apples party emerged from reminiscing about those days, and we think it turned out mighty successfully. We’re hoping to start a mini reading series now, nowhere near the scale of Pressed Apples or Hopkins Deli, but big enough to recreate one of the things that brought all our friends together.
The Menu for Pressed Apples
Mulled Cider Swirled with Rum
A warm drink to ready your spirit (and tastebuds) for a night of good cheer
Sipping Cider with Champagne
A refreshing drink to cool you down
An assortment of fine wine, beer, and plain cider
Bombay-Style Cheese Toasts (recipe below)
Triangles of savory toasts topped with cheese, tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, cilantro, and chaat masala
Tipsy Apple Cupcakes (recipe below)
Badass apple and rum cupcakes in bite-size portions
A spicy smoky fruit filled dip, great with corn tortilla chips
The next morning, when the ground was covered with bright new snow, we held a post-party brunch.
Louisa made potatoes spiced with cumin and turmeric. Sunny and steaming, they were the perfect food to cure us of little sleep and too much alcohol.
And so we recovered, by eating potatoes, bagels, cheeses, bageuttes, and pastries, and drinking orange juice and champagne to ease our way into an afternoon nap.
Bombay-Style Cheese Toasts
These are tiny toasts of awesomeness and a great party snack because they are easy to prepare in large quantities and a crowd pleaser- who doesn’t like cheese on toast?
We used the following proportions to feed around 30 people.
1 stick of butter
2 loaves of white sandwich bread
3 packets of shredded cheese- I used a mild cheddar blend
2 white onions, diced fine- approx. 1/2 cm pieces
3 tomatoes, diced
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 diced jalapeños (use more if you like your toasts to be spicy. Ours weren’t very spicy with just two jalapeños, but many people at our party were scared of spicy food)
2 ½ tbsp. chaat masala (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two trays with aluminum foil
Lightly butter each slice of sandwich bread on both sides.
Cut bread slices into fourths the shape of triangles. (Do this by cutting a slice diagonally in half and then half the halved slices.)
Toast for 5-7 minutes, until bread is lightly browned.
While bread is toasting, mix cheese, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and jalepenos in a large bowl. Add the chaat masala for an Indian kick.
Take toasts out of the oven and let cool for a couple minutes.
Spoon cheese mixture on top of toasts.
Toast in oven for about 7 minutes, until the cheese melts and bubbles. Take out of oven, let cool for a couple minutes, and serve promptly.
Tipsy Apple Cupcakes
adapted from Gourmet, December 2005
Maggie, Rice and I found that increasing the amount of rum in the cupcakes really helped keep the slightly smoky and very desirable bitterness in the batter intact.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. crushed ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup raw sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
4 ½ tsp. light rum
1 large egg
1 cup plus 1 tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
Icing (which is more like a glaze):
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup raw sugar
6 tbsp. canned evaporated milk
1 tsp. light rum
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
Place oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in a bowl.
Beat together sugar, butter, and rum with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until combined well, then add egg and beat until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes with a stand mixer or 5 to 6 minutes with a handheld. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients, mixing until combined well. Add applesauce and mix until combined well.
Distribute batter evenly in cupcake pans and bake until a wooden pick or skewer comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
Cool cupcakes for ten minutes before removing them from tray.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan, then add sugar and evaporated milk and simmer, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved, about 4 minutes.
Remove from heat and whisk in rum, vanilla, salt, and remaining tablespoon butter, then whisk in confectioners sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Cool to warm, about 20 minutes, then spread over cooled cupcakes.