Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pom Dinner Party - The Wrap-Up

It was a WONDERFUL day when I was selected as one of one hundred bloggers, home cooks and enthusiasts to host a Pom Dinner Party.  Armed with a large box of goodies, as well as over 40 fresh Pom Wonderful variety of Pomegranates, I spent hours plotting, planning, arranging, cooking and most of all, enjoying the experience.

I had three goals for the Pom Dinner Party experience...

    • 1. Best incorporation of pomegranates into the menu/drinks
    • 2. Most inspired pomegranate decor
    • 3. Most successful "How to Open a Pomegranate" presentation
Let's see how I did...

In reverse order, I got very good at opening a Pomegranate.

5 steps...
Cut ... Score ... Open ... Loosen ... Scoop ... Strain

I made my very first video showing how to open a pomegranate - neatly.  So neatly, I opened mine over a white towel.  It can be done, no need to make your kitchen, counter top, clothes or sometimes ceilings look like you were slaughtering a dog.  The day of the party, I took a few moments to demonstrate, and then had one of my party guests, Sharmin from WHAT YOU'RE MISSING KC  open her very first pomegranate. Just a few drops of the juice escaped. A GREAT job!

My video is on Youtube...

I liked the idea of using the Beatles song, "HELP!" as the background music for the video.  I uploaded a version of the video without music that you can find by clicking HERE.

I also made a Flickr folder with several photos showing the details of how to open a Pomegranate... NEATLY!  Click HERE to find this Flickr folder.

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Assignment #2 for the party was to set the theme for a Pom Dinner Party by decorating with Pomegranates.  Pom Wonderful generously supplied an abundance of Pomegranates to make this easy.  I used about a half dozen of the pomegranates for the meal.  The rest of the nearly 3 dozen pomegranates were used in the decorating frenzy!  

And, when we ran out of real Pomegranates, we improvised.

One of my favorite touches was to set up a series of luminary bags outside.  Spaced out a couple of feet apart up our driveway, along our steps and the front stoop, these red bags, with a silhouette of a Pomegranate on the outside of the bag, set the mood.  Fill with a little kitty litter, light a candle and the entrance glowed!

But we didn't stop there...

Our fireplace is a fun place to highlight Pomegranates.  Candles everywhere!  Including inside of the fireplace.  A few fall leaves and candlesticks to raise the candles and fruit to different levels made a nice display.

But wait, there is more to a fireplace.

The mantle is a great surface to continue the theme of candles and candlesticks.  Different heights showed the beauty of the color and the unique look of the fruit.

But we didn't stop there...

We have a side table.  No flat surface was safe.  Still more candles, more fall foliage and shiny pomegranates!

And finally (for the front room)...

We have an antique ice box (our liquor cabinet).  Or, for this day, yet another flat surface.  More candles, more foliage and more candlesticks to raise a few Pomegranates for varied heights.

All of these decorations created a wonderful ambiance for a welcoming glass of a Pomegranate Champagne cocktail when our guests arrived (but more on that when we cover the food).

But the decorating was not done, as we set the table with a center runner of more fall foliage, more candles and Pomegranates.  This time, we set the pomegranates in flower pots so that we could raise the height.

We even made use of the lid from one of the cases of Pomegranates sent by Pom Wonderful.

Colorful graphics on the lid with  faux woodgrain made the lid an ideal backdrop to the meal.

I uploaded all of the photos I took of the decorations to Flickr.  You can see them all as a set by clicking HERE.

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And finally... the food.  Ultimately, a dinner party rises and falls on the food.

I took this opportunity to explore sauces.  I read about "mother sauces," small sauces and second sauces that are created from the mother bases.  I served my meal in courses.  In this way, the different ways of using Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice to flavor a sauce or to flavor a dish would be easier to taste.

So, if you are going to serve in courses, serve a 7 course meal.  It just says "Elegant Dinner Party."

And, if you are going to explore sauces, plan a meal that features seven DIFFERENT sauces. 

7 sauces for 7 courses

Before the meal, we shared a drink...


My first sauce was to make my own Grenadine, that sweet, bright-colored flavoring accent used in many tropical cocktails.  Sadly, the commercial brands of grenadine have evolved to be mostly high fructose corn syrup.  But the good news, the "real" recipe of pomegranate juice, cherry, sugar and a bit of vodka is easy to do.  I made a blog post that features recipes for making your own Grenadine, as well as recipes for...

"virgin" Shirley Temple
Pomegranate Manhattan
Champagne Pomegranate Cocktail
And a classic Tequila Sunrise

I also shared a secret to make drinks just a little more festive.

I froze some Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice in ice cube trays.  This made making the Shirley Temples and the Pomegranate Manhattans incredibly easy, yet with the appearance of something very special.

I also froze orange juice for the tequila sunrise drink.  But I floated pomegranate Arils in the cubes.  Again, very easy, and added to the festivities of the evening.

I used the Grenadine to flavor the surprise center of Sweetened Ricotta Cheese (click the blue letters to get to the blog post with the recipe) inside the mozzarella cheese ball I served for a Caprise Salad.  Just a bit complicated, but the post explains it all.


The second sauce I made was a Pomegranate Molasses.  Similar to Grenadine (same ingredients), but the cooking process makes it a different sauce.  Thicker (like honey), not as sweet, more of the tartness from the pomegranate and perfect as a sugar substitute in many dishes.

I used the molasses to make Anadama Bread (click the blue letters to get to the blog post with the recipe).

I also used the Pomegranate molasses as a drizzle for a New York style Cheesecake (click the blue letters to get to the blog post with the recipe).

For the dinner party, in addition to the bread, I used the pomegranate molasses as a flavoring for Sweet Potato Grits!  Click the blue letters to get to the blog post with the recipe.


The third sauce I made was a Garlic Infused BBQ Sauce.  With tiny pieces of minced garlic, as well as garlic juice, this made a wonderful accent sauce.  The garlic powers the sauce, but the sweet/tart taste of the Pom Wonderful also left a distinctive taste.

The Pomegranate Garlic Sauce was used to flavor a delightful Olive Tapinade I used to fill a buttery soft Tapinade Straw (click the blue letters to get to the blog post with the recipe).  This was my appetizer course (the first dish served, after the drinks).  I also served a few Pomegranate Arils and a shot of pure Pomegranate juice so that my guests would know what tastes to look for throughout the evening.

I used the Pomegranate Garlic Sauce as a drizzle to accent the flavors of a Creole Artichoke and Shrimp Soup (click the blue letters to get to the blog post with the recipe).


The fourth sauce I made was a pomegranate-balsamic vinegar reduction.  I loved the taste of this sauce, and would use this in any recipe that calls for balsamic vinegar.  By making a reduction, the flavors are heightened.  The tang of the pomegranate juice and the crispness of the balsamic made this a perfect sauce!

I used the pom-balsamic reduction as the dressing drizzle on the salad course, an Insalata Caprese Tomato and Mozzarella (with a surprise center) Salad I served for the salad course.  Click the blue letters to get to the blog post with the recipe

The fifth sauce I made was Persian Pomegranate Sharbat Sauce.  A sharbat sauce is an ancient sweet dessert drink. When frozen, it makes a fruit sherbet without adding dairy.

I used the Persian Pomegranate Sharbat Sauce to make my palette cleanser course of a Pomegranate Sorbet (click the blue letters to get to the blog post with the recipe). 


The next sauce I USED (notice I didn't say made) is a bit of a cheat, as I in fact did not make it.  I used some of the Pom Wonderful Pomegranate Juice straight.

I used the Pom Wonderful Juice to make a specialty of mine, the fish course of Pomegranate Court Bouillon.  A Cajun dish that guarantees a moist tender piece of fish as you poach the fish in the pomegranate juice (click the blue letters to get to the blog post with the recipe)


OK, the REAL sauce #6 that I MADE was a Spicy Hot Pomegranate Chipotle Sauce.  With my grilling background, this sauce is my favorite.  I made a thick paste that I can easily use to thin for a mop sauce next time I make something in my smoker, or as a thin vinegar style finishing sauce, or use to make a thick BBQ sauce.  Experienced grillers and fans of spicy foods know that your mouth has different taste buds that taste heat and sweet differently.  The buds that like heat do not react to sweet flavors.  And the buds that like sweet do not pay much attention to heat.  Also, the sweet taste buds are in the front of your mouth, while the heat buds are primarily located in the back of your throat.  By combining the sweet of the pomegranate juice and the heat of the chipotle peppers used in making this sauce, creates a party in your mouth, exciting all of your taste buds.

This sauce was used to flavor and glaze a Pork Wellington (click the blue letters to get to the blog post with the recipe)!  It was, by far, the most complicated dish I made, but worth all the effort.  Fork tender and filled with flavors of walnuts, spinach and the sauce, this dish is a winner!

And sure enough, I did indeed smoke a pork butt and used this as a mop and then a Carolina style finishing sauce for an incredible batch of  Pomegranate Chipotle Pulled Pork.  I made this last weekend, so it was not part of my Pom Dinner Party.  But, one day soon, I will be making a blog post about this!


And finally, what party would be complete without dessert?  And what dessert would be complete without chocolate?  My 7th and final sauce was a tangy Pomegranate Chocolate Ganache. The ganache is wonderful as is, a little thin but pour-able and melts in your mouth, or can be thickened to make an icing thickness that sticks and can be stuck to (you'll see what I mean).

The thin sauce was perfect to fill a chocolate cordial cup.  I added a bit of white chocolate for contrast and accented with Pomegranate Arils to make a Pomegranate Chocolate Cordial.  Click the blue letters to get to the blog post with the recipe.

I used a thicker version of the ganache as flavoring for my first ever attempt at Chocolate Pomegranate French Macarons.  The combination of chocolate and the tang of the Pomegranate juice made a wonderful filling!  Click the blue letters to get to the blog post with the recipe.

In addition to the links, on Flickr, I uploaded photos I took while I was cooking.  Please click HERE to see the photos and read the captions of the experience

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After the dessert course, my Pom Wonderful dinner party was finished.  It is very easy to accent any dish with pomegranate Arils, but truly, the secret to cooking is in the sauce (or sauces).   There are dozens of  possibilities.  Almost any dish can be accented with the taste and health benefits of Pomegranates and Pom Wonderful Pomegranate juice.

I had the time of my life.  I loved being able to experiment.  My dinner party was an opportunity for me to host a Kansas City area Blogger get together.  It was a great night of talking food and the KC foodie scene.

So, thanks Pom Wonderful... I already feel like a winner in every way.


Readers, how do you think I did with the assigned goals...
    • 1. Best incorporation of pomegranates into the menu/drinks
    • 2. Most inspired pomegranate decor
    • 3. Most successful "How to Open a Pomegranate" presentation

Ultimately, I will be judged against the other 99 party hosts.

Let me know how you think I did....


  1. Personally, I think you ROCKED this! I would have devoured each and every one of your seven sauces with some serious vigor. And your decorations and video are so cute!

  2. Wow Dave, you really did POM wonderful proud!!! Your house looks so gorgeous the way you decorated it. So festive and fun. Awesome, awesome job!

  3. You are brilliant. But then you always knew that :-). You did a spectacular job. I hope you have a fabulous holiday. Blessings...Mary

  4. WOW, WOW, WOW!! Awesome, Dave! Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays to you and your family. Giving thanks for your friendship and looking forward to more cooking in the New Year. Cheers!

  5. I definitely consider you a POM expert now-wow. Impressive. Love the pomegranates in the fireplace.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  6. You did a fantastic job Dave! You should be proud of yourself (and I am pissed I don't live closer to K.C. because I would have invited myself over!)

    You are a winner already in my book.

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you and Jackie! :D

  7. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!!

  8. Dave, I'm with Joanne, I too think you rocked your POM party... the decorations are fabulous, and the meal sounds like one that no one could outdo. You must have lived, dreamed, breathed POM for weeks before this party to come up with all these spectacular dishes. Can't wait to hear how the judging goes but I can't imagine how you couldn't be the winner!! :-)

  9. The party was wonderful. The decorations were beautiful and the food was delish! Thank you so much for thinking of me.

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