Saturday, May 21, 2005
Life Is A Party
You’re young, you’re hip and you are fabulous. So why when you have people over for even the most basic affair, are you still running to Trader Joe’s and stocking up on the same old thing every other host is serving? It’s time to step up to the plate lovey and create some signature dishes of your own. It’s not only more nutritious and less expensive, but sharing the recipes gives you a great conversation topic when things hit a lull (as if that could happen at your party! Ha!) and gives you a certain cache. So as they ooh and ahh and you confidently reply that it took you 5 minutes to whip up (even if it took you an hour.) you will have reached the pinnacle of fab. Because that, my dear friends, is what chic and fab really is. Effortlessness. (Or at least, the appearance of effortlessness...)
So what can you serve that is good for the casual drop in or the most sophisticated soiree? Let’s start simple. For now, we will cover the basics just to get you on the right path. Nothing that requires any frying, or last minute composing. Nothing that is even served hot. Just easy things that you can serve for maximum (delicious) effect. And don't forget, presentation is everything, so invest in a few pretty little bowls and platters and make your food look as superb as it tastes.
I will revisit this theme again in the future, with some more ideas, but for now, here are some recipes from my arsenal you can conjure up in no time flat and still take a decadent bubble bath before anyone comes knocking.
Preheat your oven to 350. Line a sheet pan with foil and add 1 cup of hulled pumpkin seeds (you know, the green ones) and a teaspoon of vegetable oil. Toss lightly and spread out into a single layer on the foil, then add a big pinch of coarse salt and some cayenne pepper or if you have it, some Japanese Five Pepper mix. Bake until they are lightly browned and start to make a popping noise (about 6-8 minutes.) Remove and let cool.
Crème Fraiche Potatoes:
Add about 20 small potatoes and a huge tablespoon of salt to a pan full of cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are just cooked through (about 8 – 10 minutes) Drain water and allow to cool completely. Cut each potato in half and slice a tiny bit (so it can stand up) off of the other end. Using a small spoon or a melon baller, scoop out a tiny bit of the potato and fill with crème fraiche. Top with dill, caviar, crumbled bacon, capers or whatever else sounds tasty. Serve cold.
Cheese For Crackers:
Gather up all the odd bits of (non blue) cheese you have, which hopefully includes some goat cheese and adds up to about ¾ of a cup. Grate or mince and combine in a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of softened butter, salt and some minced fresh herbs. Now add either finely grated lemon zest and pepper, or minced sun-dried tomatoes and minced kalamata olives. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Stir to combine and serve.
Pita Chips: (for Hummus or Dip)
Preheat your oven to 350. Line a sheet pan with some foil. Split the pita and slice into smallish triangles. Place on the sheet pan and brush lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with coarse salt, pepper and garlic powder or paprika or whatever tickles your fancy. Toast in oven until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool before serving.
Now sit back, and enjoy that party, tiger!
Also known as “pocket bread,” pitas are traditional Middle Eastern flat breads that split horizontally, creating a pocket that can be stuffed with a variety of ingredients to make a sandwich. – MotherNature.com
It takes 20 pounds of fresh tomatoes to make 1 pound of sun-dried tomatoes.
"Refrigerated cultured dairy products are poised for unprecedented growth as a result of a variety of marketplace factors. These include dairy’s healthful halo and the explosive growth in the Hispanic population, an ethnic segment that views cultured dairy products as staples in their daily diet and in meal preparation. With 2004 retail sales in the neighborhood of $8 billion, cultured dairy categories such as drinkable yogurt, probiotic shots, dips, and cream cheese-style spreads are driving growth." – Packaged Facts
Today is National Strawberries And Cream Day!