Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Appetizer Party, Fall 2013

DFJ and I invited some new friends over last Saturday. We had a lovely time getting to know each other and running after babies. Who knew that the spider webs your vacuum cleaner missed could entertain two-year old twins?

We served the following foods along with some good cheeses and crackers. These appetizer recipes can also be great additions to your Thanksgiving menu! Just click on the links to find the recipes.   

I am in love with this savory butternut squash soup! It is rich in flavor, creamy, and has a very slight kick that slowly creeps up on you. This will make you feel warm and cozy all over. The toasted sunflower seed topping is a must-make (so, don’t skip them) they are perfectly crunchy, salty, and cuminy (that’s a new word)! There were two things that I slightly adapted in this recipe: 1) adding torn sage leaves on the butternut squash before roasting it and 2) using half chicken stock and half vegetable stock.

As always, Smitten Kitchen, never fails me. A few years ago, my artisan baker friend, Angela, told me to make this particular recipe from Deb’s blog and I obliged. This is the third time I made this recipe for a party and it never fails to please the crowd. It is something that is made with all too common ingredients that one would never think of putting together. Perfectly roasted sweet potatoes are topped with minced shallots, celery, pecans, goat cheese, and cranberries seasoned with mustard vinaigrette. That’s a party right there!


 If you have the Jerusalem cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, do yourselves a favor and cook up these amazing meatballs. If not, the recipe for these meatballs is a good enough reason to invest in this cookbook. (All the other recipes that I have made from this book turned out great too, it’s worth it!) I know that some people may think meatballs are meatballs. So not true! Ottolenghi has a knack for bringing out the best in everything and turning something simple like meatballs into a complex blend of flavors that play so well together. These meatballs are spiked with exotic spices, it makes you feel like someone’s grandmother from Jerusalem invited you in her warm kitchen for dinner. The herbs loaded in these babies give them a dose of freshness. The tangy lemon juice adds brightness and makes them even more flavorful. I also love the smooth texture and the saltiness of the beans. And all that chicken stock helped keep the moisture in the meatballs.

We substituted some ingredients to accommodate what we had on hand. Instead of fava beans, we used frozen lima beans and skipped the blanching part (which caused our beans to lose the bright green color). This recipe calls for some ground lamb but since we didn’t have any, we used all ground beef. For the herbs, we doubled the fresh parsley and cilantro, used dried dill, and skipped the mint. Baharat spice mix is easy to make at home and Ottolenghi has a recipe for it in the book. 

These are ultimate crowd pleasers! We served this at DFJ’s parents’ Christmas party last year and it was gone in less than 5 minutes. That’s how good it is! First you have to make some carnitas, of course. You can make it a day or two ahead of time as it keeps pretty well in the fridge. Right before the party, fill some mini taco shells with carnitas, top with a few drops of salsa, and sprinkle on some shredded cheddar cheese. Pop it in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F and bake until the cheese melts, approximately 8-12 minutes.

My Anything Goes Crostini

This crostini is really good and perfect for the foodies and the picky eaters in your party. It is easy to make and the toppings can be made ahead of time. Just stir fry diced leeks, mushrooms, half a bell pepper, and a bit of ham steak in olive oil and season it with salt and pepper. On the day of the party, put a bit of Dijon mustard on some small slices of good sourdough, add a spoonful of the stir fry mix, and top with a slice of Swiss cheese. Bake in an oven preheated to 375 degrees F and cook just until the cheese melts. Serve warm. Comfort food in the form of a miniature cheese steak!

I got this recipe from Smitten Kitchen (again) and she got this recipe from one of Ina Garten’s cookbooks. The funny thing is, I have all of Ina’s cookbooks but for the one that has this recipe in it. Orange and dark chocolate is one of the best food combinations out there… it’s a classic and it just can’t go wrong. I kept it simple and skipped the syrup and the ganache. It seemed like too much work, with everything else that we were making. The cake in itself is just perfect. Beguilingly simple, this cake will surprise you with its rich orange flavor and the delightful chocolate bites. I cut the sugar quantity back by ½ a cup and the cake is still wonderful. We’ve been eating the leftovers for breakfast and dinner dessert AND loving every bite. The cake is pretty dense, so a small slice goes a long way...

I hope this recipe round-up will give you some ideas on what to serve at your next party! 
Happy cooking!

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness, what delicious food! You are a fantastic host, I am craving that gorgeous soup right now!


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