Party with Summer Fruit

Mon. June 11, 2007 12:00 AM
by PJ Gray

I've always imagined the first gay-themed reality show would be something like "Survivor meets Food Network meets HGTV" where contestants compete for the world's Most Fabulous Pride Party. I can almost hear the host now: "Kyle, your party was lacking color and flair. There were not enough hot men, bitchy twinks, or low-carb hors d'oeuvres—and one of you has to be eliminated this week. So, Kyle, I'm afraid your party is has been cancelled…"

Hosting a party on Parade Day is a time-honored tradition in our community, and taken very seriously by some. I've hosted and attended my fair share over the years. Some elaborate enough to make even Martha jealous, while others were so Spartan a college fraternity wouldn't want to attend. Whether a full-spread brunch or just cocktails, the ultimate trick when hosting is to balance simplicity with your own personal creative statement. Far too often I've seen hosts slave over their own productions unnecessarily instead of enjoying the event and the company of their guests.

The following for your consideration is my menu selection for my Parade Day party. This year's theme pays special tribute to summer fruit without the need of a Carmen Miranda headdress (unless you're into that). Again, I prefer the simple, understated approach.

These appetizer recipes are impressive, yet uncomplicated, and won't take you away entirely from your guests. Ultimately, that is what will impress them the most. Enjoy!

Serves 12
This is always a party favorite and an easy recipe to increase for larger groups.

½ cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons minced garlic
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon curry powder

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces
12 (10-inch) wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes)

1 cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
½ teaspoon cayenne

Combine and blend marinade ingredients in a mixing bowl. Pour into gallon-size sealable bag. Add chicken to bag, seal, and shake well. Refrigerate bag for 4-6 hours.
Meanwhile, combine sauce ingredients (except sesame seeds) in a medium-size saucepan and cook over low heat until marmalade melts, then continue to cook 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and stir in sesame seeds. Set aside.
Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat. Remove chicken from bag and discard marinade.
Thread chicken onto skewers and place onto grill, approx. 5 inches from heat. Cook 10-12 minutes, until juices run clear, turning once.
Serve with sauce.

Makes 1 ½ cups
Served with crudite and/or bagel chips, this gets devoured when served with cocktails. What makes this version easy is the use of canned garbanzo beans and, as an easy-to-find substitute for the traditional tahini (sesame seed paste), smooth peanut butter.
Also, I love to use it as a sandwich spread or as a sauce with grilles lamb.

One 15 to 19-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and liquid reserved
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
Grated zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 garlic clove, crushed
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and ground cayenne pepper to taste

Combine the beans, peanut butter, zest and lemon juice, cumin, and garlic in a food processor. With the machine running, add the oil. Add enough of the reserved bean liquid to make a smooth, fluffy puree. Season with salt and red pepper. (The hummus can be prepared covered, and refrigerated up to 5 days in advance.)

Makes 1 pitcher
This recipe turns trendy, refreshing green tea naughty by adding liquor. C'mon, what's a Pride Party without it? You want regular green tea? Go to Starbucks.

4 cups green tea, brewed according to package directions
1 cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup lemon juice
4 tablespoons sugar
1 jigger (3 tablespoons) rum
1 jigger (3 tablespoons) vodka

Combine the tea, orange juice, lemon juice, sugar, rum, and vodka in a large pitcher. Mix well, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Serve over ice.

Makes 2 drinks
This is my absolute favorite summer cocktail. I blush with pride with every tip. The combo of pomegranate and other fruits with Tequila turns any martini glass into a chalice.

½ cup pomegranate juice
¼ cup orange juice
Juice of half a lime
2 jiggers (6 tablespoons) Tequila
¼ cup ice
Dash of lemon-lime soda
Pomegranate seeds
Lime slices

In a cocktail shaker, combine the pomegranate, orange juice, and lime juice. Add the tequila and ice. Shake well.
Pour mixture into a chilled martini glass and top with a dash of lemon-lime soda. Garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds and lime slices.