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Throw a dinner party in honor of 'The Great Gatsby'

Throw a party Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) would envy.

Warner Bros.

Throw a party Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) would envy.

When Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby opens Friday, we'll all want to live in the Roaring Twenties.

Just for a night, imagine you live in the Jazz Age and you're planning a dinner party even Jay Gatsby would envy.

• • •

Ever since Jay Gatsby moved next door, you've watched his lavish parties from afar. You've seen guests wandering through his blue gardens and drinking champagne on his balconies; you've heard his massive orchestra play Jazz History of the World until 2 a.m. Nobody else on Long Island throws such lavish parties. Especially not you. You're a good girl, not one of those scandalous flappers who roll their stockings and reveal their knees. You wouldn't even think of cutting your hair into a bob. But just this once, you want to be the one throwing a decadent dinner party.

Start by inviting your eight closest friends. (Make sure Daisy Buchanan doesn't hear about it. That girl will do anything for attention.) There's no need to remodel your house so it looks like the Hotel de Ville in Normandy. Simply create an elegant atmosphere by spreading a crisp white cloth over your dining table. For a posh centerpiece, arrange Peruvian lilies in tall glass vases. String twinkle lights absolutely everywhere. You want your house to shine so brilliantly that Gatsby can't miss it. (He'll wonder why he didn't get an invitation.) Before guests arrive, get ready to play the most popular tunes — they'll want to dance to the rhythm of the Charleston and Louis Armstrong's trumpet.

Save yourself plenty of time to get ready. Remember, it's the '20s, and you're a modern girl. You won't be labeled a "loose woman" if you wear heavy makeup. Apply the blush in circles on your cheeks, line your eyes with kohl, and paint your lips a scandalous crimson. Slip on a drop-waist sheath dress and adorn your hair with a glittering headband. Tonight you'll outshine even Daisy Buchanan.

Once your guests arrive, follow Gatsby's example and serve them champagne in glasses the size of finger bowls. While your guests enjoy cocktail hour, let them wander around your marble pool. (What? No marble pool? Pour them enough champagne and they won't notice.)

For the hors d'oeuvres, offer your guests mushrooms stuffed with crab and Brie. You already know what you'll serve as the main course. That boy Nick Carraway told you all about Gatsby's dinners, with the pork pastries and spiced hams. Can your meal outshine his? Yes. His spiced hams do not have a cherry glaze. Yours will. The fruity glaze is the perfect complement to the exotic spices of cumin and cardamom. For an elegant side dish, serve a Waldorf salad.

When your guests are tired of dancing the Charleston (and gossiping about your extravagant neighbor), you can treat them to an opulent dessert. This frozen concoction is all the rage. Combine pineapple sherbet with rich chocolate ice cream and drizzle warm caramel sauce over the top. Your guests will gasp in admiration when you present them with this rich indulgence.

And maybe somewhere, looking out from a lonely balcony, Jay Gatsby will lift his glass to you.

Emily Young is a freelance writer based in St. Petersburg.

>>MODERATE

Brie- and Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

18 large mushrooms, stems removed and chopped

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 teaspoon garlic salt

2 tablespoons minced onions

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

4 ounces large lump crab meat

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

3 ounces Brie, cut in 18 pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place mushroom caps on a cookie sheet. Brush caps with some of the butter and sprinkle with garlic salt.

In a skillet, saute the mushroom stems with onion and Worcestershire sauce using the remaining butter.

In a bowl, mix crab and mayonnaise. Fill caps with mushroom and onion mixture. Top with crab and Brie.

Bake for 10 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and cheese is melted.

Serves 6.

Source: Food.com

>>EASY

Baked Ham With Spiced Cherry Glaze

Nonstick spray

1 (5-pound) boneless ready-to-eat ham

½ cup water or white wine

1 cup cherry preserves

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish (creamy)

1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon salt

1 lemon, zested and juiced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a roasting pan with foil and spray it with nonstick spray.

Score the top and sides of the ham with a small sharp knife in a crisscross pattern. Put the ham in the pan, pour ½ cup water or white wine into the bottom of the pan and bake, covered loosely with a tent of foil, 45 to 60 minutes.

To make the glaze, combine the preserves, horseradish, brown sugar, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, salt and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Transfer the cherry mixture to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil until the glaze is slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in the lemon zest.

Remove the ham from the oven and brush the top with ¼ cup of the glaze. Bake, uncovered, until the ham is hot and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 140 degrees, about 20 minutes longer. Remove the ham from the oven to a cutting board and let stand 10 minutes before slicing. Arrange the sliced ham on a serving platter and serve with the reserved glaze.

Serves 8.

Source: Food Network

>>EASY

Waldorf Salad

2 cups coarsely chopped apples, about 2 medium apples

1 ¼ cups chopped celery

½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons sugar

Dash allspice

1 teaspoon lemon juice

To make the salad, place chopped apple, celery and walnuts in a bowl. Combine mayonnaise, sugar, allspice and lemon juice. Toss mayonnaise mixture with apple mixture. Serve the salad over salad greens if desired.

Serve 4 to 6.

Source: About.com

Throw a dinner party in honor of 'The Great Gatsby' 05/07/13 [Last modified: Monday, May 6, 2013 4:44pm]

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