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New World Library Unshelved

New World Library Unshelved

Positive news and inspiring views from the New World Library community


Friday, June 14, 2013
Happy Hour at Home: 5 Fail-Proof Tips to Achieve Happy Hour Heroics by guest blogger Brian Patton
 

When Brian Patton, a regular guy rather than a highfalutin chef, began posting cooking videos on YouTube as his alter ego, “The Sexy Vegan,” celebrity status quickly ensued — along with a publication deal for his first book, The Sexy Vegan Cookbook. Now he’s done it again with his new book, The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home: Small Plates, Big Flavors, and Potent Cocktails. In this entertaining guest post, His Sexiness offers practical advice for organizing your own happy hour gatherings this summer! Also, be sure to check out his recent cooking demonstrations in the kitchen at The Portland Oregonian and on AM Northwest, as well as the hilarious trailer he created for the book.

Happy Hour at Home: 5 Fail-Proof Tips to Achieve Happy Hour Heroics

by guest blogger Brian Patton, author of
The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home

I really can’t think of anything worse than fighting my way through a sea of stressed-out, loose-tied, five o’clock–shadowed corporate types, just to order a crappy half-priced well drink and a basket of mass-produced onion rings that were frozen solid just three minutes before. That thought alone makes me thankful I’ve never had a typical office job.

To me, “happy hour” is a calming release of the week’s difficulties and a joyful reflection upon its victories. It should scrub the mind and leave you with a clean slate so your weekend adventures may be fully enjoyed. Oh yeah, and there should be drinks. And food. And you should rescue a few friends from their habitual happy hour horrors and invite them over to share in your very own happy hour at home. With the following tips in your entertaining arsenal, you will be quickly elevated to the status of “Happy Hour Hero.” 

 1. Keep it simple. Happy hour is more about socializing than it is creating the Last Supper. You don’t want to be chained to the kitchen while your guests are getting tipsy on the patio. This is not the time to prepare twenty-ingredient dishes or make pizza dough from scratch. For happy hour, you should focus on small, simple, tapas-style plates that come together fast with a few ingredients. This is the time to break out the crackers, dips, and that weird, dusty jar of pickled watermelon rinds that your aunt sends you every year. Since showing off your culinary cleverness is a big part of the happy hour fun, you don’t want to rely completely on things from jars or cans, but you should use them to fill out your offerings and complement your from-scratch efforts.


2. Have a theme. It doesn’t matter what it is, but have one. Hell, I’ve had Pearl Jam–themed dinner parties and happy hours. Having a theme accomplishes a couple things. First, it makes your happy hour sound cool — “Hey, why don’t you come over for happy hour?” sounds okay, but “Hey, why don’t you come over for Pearl Jam happy hour?” sounds way cooler. Curiosities are piqued, and the seeds for a good time have been planted in your guests’ collective subconscious. The other benefit is that instead of having to come up with dish ideas out of thin air, you now have some direction. If your theme is a regional one — Mexican, Mediterranean, Korean, Middle Eastern, etc. — then you’ve got a great starting point. If you want to do a movie, TV, or music theme, you can take character names or song titles and make them into dishes.

3. Get nuts! Not lampshade-on-your-head-dancing-around-pantless nuts, but actual nuts. The ones you eat. I serve seasoned, roasted nuts at all my happy hours. They’re very easy and you can make them ahead of time. Nuts are also filling, so even though you’re not serving a full meal, your diners’ grumbly bellies will still be sated. And they’re super-versatile, easily adaptable to any theme you choose. You can season them simply with salt and cracked pepper, or, if your theme is Mexican, you can add chili powder, cumin, and lime juice. If you’re cooking Indian, add coriander, garam masala, lemon juice, and brown sugar.
Simply toss a mix of raw nuts, like cashews and almonds, in a bit of olive oil, and season with whatever you like. Roast them on a sheet pan at 250° F for 20 minutes, toss, then roast for another 20 minutes, remove from oven, and let cool. Eating too many of them will not (in itself) lead to any lampshade-related shenanigans.

4. Think before you drink. If you’re the type who would host a happy hour or dinner party in the first place, there’s a chance you’re already a skinny jeans–wearing, hoodie-clad hipster. Well, listen here, my bearded friend: Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) pounders do NOT go with everything! Now, I’m by no means dissing PBR pounders. They do have their place . . . and it’s called a paper bag! Oh, burn! What? Come at me, bro!
Anyway, since you’ve already concocted a theme and the dishes to go with it, you might as well put a little thought into your beverage selection. You’ll find an extensive list of cocktails in The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home, or you can simply search the Internet and you’ll quickly have answers to questions like “Which wine goes with roasted golden beets?” or “What beer pairs with samosa pizzas?” You can also work some of the ingredients you’re using for the food into a cocktail. If you’re making a mango gazpacho, set aside some pureed mango and add it to a drink with spiced rum and ginger beer. You can certainly have some PBRs and Two Buck Chuck waiting in the wings as backup, but putting forth that extra libation effort will surely earn you your happy hour utility belt and cape.

5. Show off! That’s what it’s really all about anyway, right? Getting one’s ego stroked? You don’t actually like these guests of yours, do you? Oh, you do? Ah, I see. Must be just me then. Those of us who choose to host and entertain have at least a little of that “look what I can do” motivation behind us. Don’t be ashamed. Embrace it! Make a show of your happy hour. Keep the windows open so your guests can smell the aromas as they approach your abode. Let them see you in a dirty apron expertly mincing fresh herbs. And don’t finalize your dishes until the guests have settled in with their first beverage. Any operation involving large flames and/or careful, delicate garnishing would be ideal to save for the grand finale.

After you use these tips to perfect your own happy hour, word of your heroics will quickly spread amongst the people. You should probably get a reservation book, because your place will become the most popular joint in town.

Brian Patton is the author of The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home and The Sexy Vegan Cookbook. He is also the executive chef for Vegin’ Out, a vegan food delivery service in Los Angeles. Visit him online at www.thesexyvegan.com.

Based on the new book The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home. Copyright © 2013 by Brian L. Patton. Published with permission of New World Library. www.newworldlibrary.com


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