I was chosen by POM to participate in their ‘pomegranate challenge.’ I adore a good challenge, and party themes? How did you know? Its the perfect thing for me to obsess over: weaving together decor, cocktails, a full-blown menu with multiple desserts, SWAG bags for guests and homemade pomegranate preserves (jelly AND molasses)… you should have seen all the cookbooks I blew threw—and new recipes I created, the menu scratches across scads of paper, diagrams and note cards. The pomegranate juice flowed onto my counter, to the floor, all over my apron and into boiling hot jars. Plus, I tested and tried multiple ways of cracking open pomegranates—to see which way I liked the best (see video here).
All the hustle and bustle aside, I decided to throw a ‘Girls Night In’ pomegranate inspired dinner party. As a side note on the invitation, I wrote: “sure, bring wine… but only bring your ‘pom-poms’ if you plan to perform a cheer.”
And by the end of the night, we were all cheering:
I placed a deep red runner across my dining room table, adorned it with pomegranates and wove little red lights across the center (think: lit up pomegranate seeds). In the same room was a special table set up with bowls of pomegranates and an array of take-home pomegranate party favors (jars of jelly, pomegranate cupcakes, SWAG bags directly from POM Wonderful, etc.).
Here is the all-pomegranate menu I settled on:
I have made limoncello and many other liqueurs, and though I was short on time (my limoncello takes 80 days), I squeezed out a pomegranate version of limoncello—literally. I served these in elegant ‘shot’ glasses bedded on ice.
My rendition of a vodka-and-pomegranate-cocktail includes fresh squeezed orange juice and ginger simple syrup.
Sangria at its finest; I adore concocting sangria with goodies I have on hand. This one was unique: incorporating POM Nectarine Juice, fruity red wine, port-pom-pear-cinnamon simmered liquid and a splash of brandy.
Pomegranate Jelly w/Goat Cheese
Loved making pomegranate jelly—it was surprisingly delicate. I added jelly to a tray, some crackers and a log/round of fresh goat cheese. I dribbled some honey-from-my-neighbor on top of the goat cheese, along with some barely-chopped rosemary for fanciful, delicious color.
Pomegranate Nut Baked Brie
I mixed a festive topping for a round of brie: dried apricot, pomegranate seeds (arils) and rough-chopped chipolte candied pecans. (Chop, mix and place topping on brie; bake 15 minutes at 350). Serve with crostini or crackers.
Fish Cakes with Chipolte Aioli & Pomegranate Corn Relish
When the guests left—and I was left to my own devices—I found myself leaning over a plate inhaling fish cakes with heaps of this relish.
Radicchio, Pecorino & Pomegranate Salad with Calmyrna Fig & White Balsamic dressing
The saltiness of the pecorino and popping freshness of pomegranate seeds were a fantastic combo.
Bacon, Sage, Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork with Pomegranate Jus over Sweet Potato Mash
bacon makes everything better… and apparently: so do pomegranates!
Chocolate & Vanilla Marbled Cupcakes & Pomegranate White Chocolate Icing
mini iced cupcakes splayed over pomegranate sauce.
Pomegranate Cinnamon Swirl ice cream
a ribbon of pomegranate molasses swirled into homemade cinnamon ice cream.
Port & Pomegranate Poached Pears in Puff Pastry Boats with Creme Anglaise
I added the ‘simmering sauce’ to the pomegranate sangria: delish!
The party was spectacular—we started the night off with pomcello in fancy vodka shot glasses, sipped pom-tinis and ogled the pomegranates marching their way down the center of the table. Guests first nibbled on baked brie topped with pomegranate jewels and once seated: tucked into fish cakes over chipolte aioli with a pomegranate corn relish. We pom-pom’d our way through each course—right up to the cinnamon and pomegranate swirled ice cream.
Before my guests rolled out the door, I had the fun of filling their hands with pomegranate goodies—a means to savor the pomegranate fun a bit longer.
From POM Wonderful, each guest received a ‘literal’ swag bag: a canvas bag with POM logo. Inside each bag was a coupon for a free POM juice and chef-inspired recipes. I couldn’t help myself: I added to their little take-away stash with pomegranate goodies from my own kitchen. Matching little number doilies from their plate to the little numbered tags on each gift, guests brought home one of the following treasures:
- pomegranate jelly
- pomegranate molasses
- a small jar of Pomcello
- a little box with pomegranate iced cupcakes
- a small jar of chipolte pecans (they topped the brie, along with pomegranates and apricots).
(Some of the recipes have links; others will be on Talk of Tomatoes soon).
Plus a few extras for you (since you can’t reach into the screen for the take-home goodies—sorry!); a post on Pomegranate 101, cocktail recipes, requisite eye-candy—the pomegranate party photo album—and a VIDEO DEMO of me de-seeding a pomegranate.
I hope you crack open a pomegranate soon, to add some red-studded jewels to your holiday table. They are good for you and add a brilliant punch of color to any table, drink or menu. And remember, while entertaining: pom-poms are interesting— but optional.