Monday, November 15, 2010

POM Wonderful Dinner Party

About a month ago, Foodbuzz and POM Wonderful teamed up and asked Featured Publishers to submit their Pomegranate inspired dinner party menus and ideas. I was selected to host a party, and POM Wonderful sent me 4 dozen pomegranates, 6 coupons for bottles of POM Wonderful juice, and canvas bags for my guests. I began brainstorming and constructed a fall inspired, 5-course dinner menu and several different decorative touches using the pomegranates. Our dinners will be judged on three criteria, menu, decorations, and a video instructing the best way to open a pomegranate.

On Saturday evening, I hosted my pomegranate inspired dinner for several of my girlfriends and myself. I spent the day getting ready for the party, beginning with an elegant, wintry dining table. I incorporated many candles in various shades of red and purple and used silver as the accent color. Each place setting had a menu and a pomegranate used for seating assignments.

In the living room where we had our appetizers, I chose simple decorations, charger plates with rose petals and silver cake stands paired with more candles.

The mantle was a bit more dramatic and autumn inspired. Golden brown and green leaf garland dotted with white pillar candles and pomegranates would be perfect for Thanksgiving decor.

In the kitchen, I set up the pomegranate opening station. I used two glass cake pedestals to create a tree and filled it with pomegranates. You could also add sprigs of rosemary for an additional centerpiece idea with Christmas in mind. I set out a red cutting board and knife, a bowl of water, a sieve over another bowl, and the compost bucket. I also included the apron that POM Wonderful sent me and the mat with pomegranate cutting instructions.

In the bathroom, I supplied guests with pomegranate candies as well as pomegranate scented hand soap.

Before my guests arrived, I filled the water glasses and pitcher on the dining room table with ice water, lemon slices and pomegranate arils. I also set out the first course of the evening.

Sweet Potato and Pomegranate Hummus with Vegetables and Pita Chips
Puff Pastry with Brie and Pomegranate-Cranberry Relish

During the appetizers, I also served guests Pomegranate-Cherry Champagne Punch

After we sat and ate our appetizers, we went into the kitchen and I showed my guests how to open a pomegranate, and then let them open a few themselves.

Here is Caron modeling the apron

and opening a pomegranate.

After each guest had a chance to open a pomegranate, we took our seats at the table. I placed carafes of Pomegranate Sangria on the table for us to enjoy with dinner.

Caramelized Onion, Pomegranate and Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
with Creme Fraiche, Toasted Hazelnuts and Pomegranate Arils

The soup had great depth of flavor as a result of the caramelized onion base, the pomegranate juice added a sweet and tangy flavor, and the roasted squash tasted like velvet. The creme fraiche added a nice creaminess, and the nuts and arils offered a contrasting crunch.

Pomegranate and Red Wine Poached Pear Salad 
with Gorgonzola, Candied Pecans and Arils  
& Creamy Pomegranate-Yogurt Vinaigrette

The star of the salad was the poached pears, full of flavor and spice from the poaching pomegranate juice. The Gorgonzola added tang while the candied pecans were sweet and crunchy. The vinaigrette was made with a pomegranate reduction, yogurt, pomegranate infused balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Two-Tone Ravioli stuffed with Pomegranate Braised Cremini Mushrooms and Ricotta
with a Pesto and Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce Duo

The pasta dough was infused with pure pomegranate juice on one side and plain egg yolk pasta dough on the other. The filling was a creamy ricotta studded with thyme and pomegranate braised mushrooms. The pesto was a classic recipe paired with a creamy, lightly spiced roasted red pepper sauce.

Following dinner, I invited my guests to try their hand at pomegranate related trivia to win a few prizes and let our dinner digest before dessert. POM Wonderful supplied each guest with a canvas tote bag, a bracelet, a chef's series pack of recipe cards and a coupon for a bottle of pomegranate juice.

I provided each guest with a bag of two Pomegranate Chocolate Chip Cookies

and a jar of the Pomegranate-Cranberry Relish that was the topping for our appetizer.

I excused myself while my guests took their seats and changed into my Princess Pomegranate outfit for the trivia portion of the evening. I constructed this costume for the video I recorded on how to open a pomegranate. If you look at POM Wonderful literature, you'll see they often have a bottle of POM Wonderful in a cape because studies have shown pomegranates and 100% pomegranate juice have many health benefits!

Here are the note cards with the questions I asked, all numerical answers. We went around the room "Price is Right" bidding style, and each guest received a heart when they were correct. In the end, the person with the most hearts won!

The Questions:
Q: How many calories are in 100g of pom arils? A: 86
Q: How many years does it take for a tree to produce fruit? A: 9 years
Q: How many acres of pom tree orchards does POM Wonderful own? A: 18,000
Q: Where does 100% POM Wonderful juice score on the Antioxidant Potency Scale? A: 96
Q: How many arils are in the average pomegranate? A: 613
Q: Pomegranates were cultivated in Persia in what year? A: 2000BC
Q: Who brought Pomegranates to California? A: The Spainiards

After playing trivia, our dessert was ready!

Pomegranate-Cranberry Challah Bread Pudding with Nutella Swirl
and Pomegranate Gellato with Hazelnut Crunch

The challah was homemade, and the perfect base for soaking up the creamy milk and egg. A hidden spoonful of nutella in the center added a delicious surprising flavor. The pomegranate gellato was smooth and creamy and the candied hazelnuts added crunch to the creamy dish.

After five delicious Pomegranate inspired courses and bags of pomegranates and products to take home, my guests and I had a fabulous evening!

I hope that you try cooking and baking with pomegranates as they are in season from now until about January. They are beautiful additions to meals and decor, and will be a lovely centerpiece at your holiday gatherings. I will be posting the recipes for all of the dishes in this post throughout the week.

POM Wonderful will be selecting ten winners based on their POM Parties. Though the public cannot vote, if you think I did a good job with my party, please leave a comment on their Facebook wall or tweet a link to my post with the hashtag #pomparty and @veggieash
Thanks for all of your support!


Cupcake Kelly said...

Looks so fun. hope you win!

Tricia said...

Ashlee, this looks incredible! No reason in the world you shouldn't win!!

HCM said...

You did a wonderful job! The food looks amazing and the pomegranates were incorporated into the decorations perfectly!

Sarah said...

Thanks Ashlee for hosting us! It's been one of the best meals this season!

I hope you will post some of your recipes!

ltbeyer said...

I think I'm still full from Saturday night's Pom Party. What an amazing dinner party and expression of love for pomegranates! Everything was delicious. If you can post (or send) the recipes for the pom-cranberry relish, champagne punch & pomegranate chocolate chip cookies, I would love to try these on my own. My husband really liked the cookies I brought home! You'll be glad to know that I opened one of my pomegranates from the party yesterday (using the technique I learned at Pom Party) and packed the arils along for a soccer game snack. Yummy!

Three cheers for the POM Princess and her party -- you totally deserve to win!

Anne said...

Thanks so much for an AMAZING night! I learned so much, and the meal was delish -- loved how you worked them into each dish. I think the soup was my favorite! Can't wait to try out some of these recipes myself!

Caron said...

Saturday evening was a treat! I absolutely loved (and I mean that) every course...from the appetizers to the dessert (the pomegranate gelato was fab!). Ashlee, you were an excellent host and had every detail perfectly planned and implemented. I loved the pomegranate name holders at our place settings. The food was magnificent, everything had such a range of flavors and complimented the pom sangria very nicely. Kudos to you, again! I hope you win the are beyond well-deserving of it! Poms up!

Cara said...

ohmygoodness, what a menu! You've totally outdone yourself here. I think my favorite touches here are pomegranate-dyed pasta and the pom-braised mushrooms inside. What an interesting flavor. And your dessert - are they totally out of this world or what?!

Devon said...

You are such an amazing hostess and talented cook, Ashlee. Thank you so much for inviting me and for opening up my eyes to all the possibilities of a pomegranate! Everything was ridiculously delicious :) Can't wait to see the recipes!

Dawn said...

Girl you went all out!!! This all looks SO amazing.

Tasha said...

Wow, you outdid yourself here. From your AMAZING menu and your beautiful decor to your charming video, you did an incredible job. Good luck, Ash, I hope you win!

Anonymous said...

Great POM party! I am working on my post now too! Best of luck!

Joanne said...

Ash I would have KILLED to be at this dinner party! Every dish looks fantastic. Really I am just in awe.

Kelly said...

Adorable. You clearly went all out and it shows, the flavors sound simply amazing and I love how you used the pomegranates to decorate in so many cute (but reusable as you can still eat the pomegranate later. :-) ) ways.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on winning the POM Party event! Great job.