A Ducky Birthday Party

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Ever since I saw the most adorable rubber ducky cupcakes in What’s New, Cupcake?, a book by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, I’ve been dying for a chance to make them. Starting with a cupcake body, you form the duck using a doughnut hole for the head and a diagonally-cut marshmallow for the tail; then dip the whole thing into yellow frosting that’s been microwaved to whipped cream consistency.

Here’s the authors’ how-to demo; you’ll be inspired to try it yourself. I will caution that it’s not quite as easy for first-timers to control the drips and get a smooth frosting coating, as it is for these experts.

I’ve been waiting for a special occasion to try my hand at these ducks and this weekend, the perfect opportunity presented itself: it was my granddaughter’s first birthday and I volunteered to host a small party.

The ducks themselves didn’t fit Special Fork’s 30-minute prep parameters, of course, but the menu they inspired certainly did. Ducks made me think of ponds, ponds made me think of the outdoors, and soon I was on to a picnic-themed birthday menu, even if San Francisco’s cooler afternoons necessitated eating the meal indoors. I went with fried chicken, coleslaw, potato salad, three-bean salad and corn on the cob. Aside from the bean salad, recipes were already in the Special Fork recipe database. (See links to recipes below.)

For the table, I set a small rubber ducky at each place setting with a name tag tied on with a bit of raffia, to serve as place cards. I purchased a little picture frame for each guest and inserted a photo of the guest taken with our birthday girl; then I wrapped these little keepsakes as party favors. Multi-colored helium balloons and party hats added to the festivity.

Aside from birthdays, the following recipes make an easy-to-fix summer dinner party menu, and of course, are excellent for a picnic.

Three-Bean Salad
This salad uses frozen green beans instead of canned and much less sugar than the typical three-bean salad, which can sometimes be cloyingly sweet.

½ cup canola oil
½ cup cider vinegar
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package (9 ounces) frozen French-cut green beans
1 can (15 ¼ ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained well
1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained well
½ cup thinly sliced sweet onion (about ¼ onion)

In medium bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, sugar and salt to make the dressing.

In medium saucepan, bring enough water to cover beans, to a boil. Add beans and cook 2 to 3 minutes, just until crisp-tender. Drain immediately, rinse with cold water, drain again and pat dry with paper towels, gently pressing out excess water.

Add green beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans and onion to dressing bowl and toss to combine.

Refrigerate at least two hours or overnight for flavors to meld; stirring several times while chilling to distribute dressing.

Makes 6 servings.

And for the rest of the menu:

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Posted: Jun 1st by Sandy_Hu