Jason and I decided a long time ago that we wouldn’t buy one another material things for our birthdays. Save the wrapped presents for Christmas… birthdays were going to be about experiences.
One time, it was an Indian curry cooking class. Another, it was a surprise visit from a parent. And even more recently, it was a day of perfection in Belgium.
Jason will be the first to admit that he’s not a birthday person. He sometimes even forgets that his birthday is coming up. But he married me so that means he’s essentially forced to be a believer in birthdays.
I love birthdays. I love my friends’ birthdays. Heck, I love my birthday. [No shame whatsoever.] I love celebrating and, most importantly, having an excuse to bring all of my favorite people together in one place.
So given that I was officially entering the “third floor” on Saturday, Jason ensured that my 30th birthday celebration was one to remember.
It has always been my dream to ring in my 30’s via a “Roaring 20’s” party—not because I wanted to pretend like I was still in my 20’s, but because I wanted to celebrate their awesomeness and conclusion in style.
We were a little skeptical about the concept at first: Would our friends embrace the idea? Would anyone dress up [except for us]? In an age where going to a brewery or a happy hour is celebration enough, would a house party be considered too self-gratuitous?
It turns out that we had nothing to worry about. Everyone embraced the idea, and the majority of people loved the excuse to dress up. And the fact that the booze and food was overflowing just sealed the deal that much further.
Everything about the event had a distinct tie to the 1920’s: white balloons hung from the ceiling a la The Great Gatsby [“Balloons fill the house and are scattered all over the yard.”]; big band jazz tunes floated through the speakers; and candy cigarettes were passed out like, well, candy. Even the booze and food held significance.
While alcohol may have been banned for much of the 1920’s during Prohibition, that certainly didn’t keep it from flowing in the form of “bathtub gin” and quirky cocktails. To harness that indulgence, we opted to feature three signature cocktails from the era—Old Fashioned’s, Sidecars, and Bee’s Knees—as well as a champagne tower to keep it classy.
For food, we went the hors d’oeuvre route, allowing for guests to snack sophisticatedly yet sufficiently. Olives, salted nuts, stuffed dates, artichoke toasts, caprese skewers, shrimp cocktail in martini glasses, and deviled eggs were the perfect “proper for the 20’s” finger foods, while red velvet cake pops and mini pineapple upside down cakes offered a bit of sweetness. A little 1920’s historical context: deviled eggs topped with caviar were quite the trend [despite their BBQ associations of today], red velvet cake was introduced to the world by the Waldorf Astoria Hotel during that time, and the invention of canned fruit made pineapple upside down cakes the new-to-the-decade delicacies. [See? We did our research.]
Lost Generation Olives and Golden Age Pesto Deviled Eggs [aka “Green Eggs & Ham“]
The magnum opus of the night, however, had to be the Champignons Parisiens [Parisian Mushrooms], made in honor of the “Lost Generation” expats who made Paris their home during the 1920’s, of which Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, George Gershwin, and Aaron Copland were all members.
Jason knocked it out of the park with these, so it was no surprise they were long gone [along with all of the booze] by the time the last guest called it a night around 1:00am.
It was an altogether epic evening complemented by amazing people and a truly “roaring” atmosphere that had new friends meeting old friends, our goddaughter Catherine being passed around the room adoringly, a rendition of “happy birthday” played on Jason’s jazz trumpet, and a constant slew of laughter and conversation that ran well past our bedtime.
Seriously: who knew 30 could be so fun?!
So here we are now. Both 30 and embracing this new decade with enthusiasm [and perhaps a few more Champignons Parisiens, because why not?]. Check out the recipe below for a perfect and welcome addition to your next party or gathering.
[aka – Roaring 20’s Parisian Mushrooms or Gatsby’s Crabby Mushrooms]
- 3 lbs. Baby Bella mushrooms
- 1/4 onion, chopped
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 Tbs. butter
- 4 Tbs. flour
- 6 oz. hot milk
- 2 oz. cream
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 lb. crab meat
- 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbs. dried marjoram
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 2 Tbs. lemon juice
- 2 cups Panko bread crumbs
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Prep the mushrooms by removing the stems and wiping off the caps.
- Reserve half of the mushroom stems. Chop and set aside.
- Sauté the caps in butter, cooking for about 3 minutes on each side. Dry by either wiping with a paper towel or letting drain in a strainer.
- Meanwhile, sauté the onions, garlic, and mushroom stems in butter until onions are clear.
- Add flour, then add the hot milk and cream and cook over medium-low heat until thickened.
- In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and temper them with the warm cream mixture.
- Add tempered eggs and Worcestershire, cayenne, salt, marjoram, sugar, lemon juice, and 1/4 c. of the Panko. Mix until well combined and refrigerate until ready to assemble.
- Fill prepared mushrooms with crab stuffing and sprinkle with parmesan and remaining Panko.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350-degrees, until they’re warm and slightly golden on top. Top with more parmesan and serve up to your deserving guests.