You’re listening to (We’re Not) The Jet Set by George Jones and Tammy Wynette (1974). It’s one of my favorite Tammy Wynette songs (another fav is ‘Til I Can Make It On My Own, thanks to the movie Sordid Lives, 2000), but this one just seemed to really fit the theme of our day.
This is the story of OUR personal Cowboy Day Cook-along here in Zakynthos, Greece. We had a great time! Everyone around the world, it seems, loves dressing up like cowboys for a party! (A few of the blogs have posted already… my BIG write-up, detailing all the #CowboyDayCookalong events around the globe, links to those blogs, and announcing the prize winners will come the week following July 23rd.) Here’s a few notes about the successes (and fails) from our party and my “EPIC WESTERN” video from the event… There are links to all the recipes here or you can visit the original cook-along page here. Entries are due by Midnight July 24th…so there’s still plenty of time to throw your own Cowboy Day party and enter the #CowboyDayCookalong contest! Giddy-up pardner!
(As a reminder, you can click on any of the photos throughout the blog to see them larger.)
The most creative fun for me was the planning stage…going around the house gathering up all of our collected cowboy paraphernalia to see what could be used to set the proper mood. We had lots! (I was a bit surprised.). Some of my favorites were these:
(click on any thumbnail to see them all)
I started cooking the day before. Made the chocolate roll (LOVE this recipe), the gazpacho, the enchilada sauce, and I pre-assembled the Rancho California Rice dish (ready to pop in the oven the next day). That only left the corn, guacamole, and assembling the enchiladas for the day of.
The pre-assembly of the rice dish was a MISTAKE. The rice absorbed all the moisture overnight, and the texture of the dish was like a big solid mass instead of nice grains of rice (although the flavor was still great). Other people didn’t seem to mind, but I knew (having made it before for the cookbook) the dish could be so much better! Next time I will pre-cook the rice the day before, but not assemble the dish until just before baking.
The guacamole was good! I went with Eddie Albert’s recipe pretty much exactly…usually I prefer lime over lemon in mine (and certainly not vinegar), but the lemon worked nice and I was able to obtain Tabasco brand green jalapeño to use (such a rarity to find these kinds of ingredients here).
The flavor of the gazpacho was wonderful…what didn’t work out so well, was Rock’s suggestion to serve it over a bowl filled with shaved ice. Not having a “snow cone machine” or ice shaver, I used my vintage-style, hand-cranked ice crusher. The consistency was still too large. If you have an ice shaving machine ( and can get the consistency of fluffy snow), it would be great. But the consensus of all of us, was a resounding “NO” to the ice. It WAS refreshingly cold on this hot, humid, July in Greece night…but tiny, hard ice chunks in the silky, smooth, cold soup didn’t work for us. I served it in a “rocks”-style glass, since we had soooo much other food coming (smaller portions). The flavor was beautiful and it WAS very refreshing!
The cowboy corn was HIDEOUS in appearance! Was this because I always cook with raw sugar and not the white, refined stuff? Was it because I can’t get canned, creamed corn here, so I went with the internet suggestion of pureeing 1/2 the can and mixing it back together? Was this because the recipe called for heating hog grease to the smoking point, and because half my crowd was vegetarian, I used butter and corn oil (adding a drop of liquid smoke and a bit of smoked provolone cheese at the end)? This dish was sooooo ugly… BUT IT TASTED GREAT! (Sounds like Clint Eastwood in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!) Almost too sweet at first bite, but it soon grows on you… The contrast of caramelized sweetness and pepper-y spice with a smoky background was really good.
The enchiladas were a breeze. The sauce was made a day ahead (I had some in the freezer, but decided to do a milder batch for our Greek guests…they don’t like things so spicy hot). I cut the 9″ corn tortillas (the only ones I could find…I’ve been hoarding them in the back of the cupboard for about 2 months now…just for this day. They’re impossible to find here) into 6″ circles. This made for much more manageable-sized serving portions. I got some tin pans that reminded me of cowboy plates and my only big challenge was producing the perfectly “sunny-side-up” eggs for each portion at the very last moment. Next time I’ll go back to baking all the enchiladas on a sheet pan and transferring them to the plates after (for the sake of neatness and presentation). This is a favorite dish of mine!
“The Soda Pop Kid” (in the video) is VERY specific about what he eats and doesn’t eat. None of these items are on his “eat”-list (except the tortilla chips served with the guacamole). A plain hamburger (no bun even) usually fits the bill, so I pulled out this Rock Hudson recipe to fill the requirements. (If you own Recipes for Rebels, you might print or hand-copy this recipe to one of the notes pages…this one isn’t in the book!) I intended to make fresh, fried potatoes for him too, but got too busy with the enchiladas and perfectly “sunny-side-up” eggs. He never eats much anyway, and didn’t seem to notice.
We were stuffed at this point!!! All the adults were drinking Coronas with lime at this point, and I decided to mix up just one batch of Chocolate Martinis…mainly because it was on the menu and I needed to photograph it for the video. I can’t get Hershey’s Syrup here, so I had to make my own. They were a huge hit…everyone wanting more! The party really loosened up at this point (visualize this…Greeks singing “Stand By Your Man” in loud, animated Tammy Wynette impersonations)… Our soundtrack for the evening consisted of exclusively female country classics…Tammy, Loretta Lynn, Jeanne C Riley, Dolly Parton, Kitty Wells, Wanda Jackson, Lynn Anderson, Patsy Cline…we were all laughing…it was good!
Jane Wither’s Chocolate Roll was the crowning jewel of the evening! The sun was setting and candles lit (from appetizers to dessert…as is the Greek tradition…dinner lasted over 4 hours) The martinis were flowing and the Chocolate Roll (flavored with Kahlúa) was absolutely perfect! Very light, satisfying, and not overly sweet. Since I had made it the day before (and it really needs that much time to firm up), I had periodically rotated the roll on the refrigerator shelf so it didn’t end up with too much of a flat side. I spent half an afternoon the previous week, learning how to make the perfect strawberry rosette to garnish my desserts…only to find out on shopping day that strawberry season is over! I ended up with some beautiful cherries that I split, pitted, and added mint foliage to. It was a euphoric finalé to an unusual meal and wonderful day!
I was having such a relaxed (but busy) and enjoyable time, that I hardly got any video footage shot! You food bloggers know ALL about that one! The guests came all dressed to the nines! I’m especially disappointed I didn’t get video of that (I was going to get it “later,” but then, bit by bit, layers of clothes were coming off and…well you know…it just never happened). We had planned a horseshoe tournament for the day…but it was simply TOO hot to do ANYTHING but sit back on the shady porch, sipping Coronas and chocolate martinis, and sing about our “Heartaches By the Number.” We talked about James Dean and each celebrity that had contributed to the menu… Everyone had a very nice time! Here’s the footage I DID get…enjoy! (Make sure the sound’s turned up…I especially like the soundtrack.)