French Fridays with Dorie
Who wouldn’t love showing up to a cocktail party and being hit up by these savory mustard batons? That would certainly set the mood for cocktails and chatter, n’cest pas?
I mourn the loss of the all-but-lost-art of the proper cocktail party. They were a huge part of my early childhood and I miss them. I remember fondly the my fly-on-the-wall observations of the adults in their natural habitat. Arriving to loud hellos, the sincere and not so sincere outfit compliments, fun cocktails with garnishes, mingling and catching up on neighborhood gossip. All observed easily from my perch at the top of the stairs. And they were over as quickly as they began.
These parties were not intended to take the place of dinner but rather meant only precede it. I don’t know if they were just a sign of those times or just a sign of my parents being too old to enjoy the all night blowouts of their college years. My mother had not yet gained the confidence to throw what would eventually become her signature dinner party extravaganzas so the easier but the just-as-showy cocktail party fit the bill nicely. Much cheaper too!
Guests would show up at 5:30 or 6. Some would come dressed in their tennis whites having just left a game. Others would be wearing the nice dress they just bought and were eager to show off. A specialty cocktail would be waiting for them(or a beer or wine) followed by a snack consisting of the few light appetizers my mother would offer, some chit chat and mingling with the crowd of about 20 people expertly chosen guests and then leave around 7 or 7:30 to pursue their own dinner plans.
No lingering allowed past that awkward dinner hour was allowed. Mom made it clear that while tasty appetizers and witty conversation were on the menu, dinner was not. I think it was the expectation that these parties were short and the closing time enforced that gave them their life.
Don’t these parties seem perfectly poised for a comeback in these more economically frugal times?
My mother’s 1953 edition of The Joy of Cooking begins with these words about cocktails: “The chief virtue of cocktails is their informal quality. They loosen tongues and unbutton the reserves of the socially diffident.” The same can be said for the chic snacks that accompany them. As much as I love the idea of just opening a bag of chips and calling it a party, the perfect cocktail snack will help set a mood which kicks off the night’s conversation and revelry.
These Mustard Batons are certainly up to the task. As everyone who cooks should know by now, a box of puff pastry in the freezer is just as required in inventory as a sauce pan. And who doesn’t have mustard on hand? There you go.
If you don’t have mustard on hand use tapenade, pesto, chutney, or just some grated cheese and herbs. While you are at it, make a ton of these and freeze them on the sheet pan and store them in a ziplock. They bake up from frozen at a moments notice or when the urge to invite a few friends over for a drink before dinner strikes your fancy.