Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Party Food: New Year's Eve



I had a somewhat sad moment today when I realized that I form crushes on chairs rather than men these days. Is this what being married does to you? Your fantasies start featuring sofa shopping instead of bed hopping? Planning a party used to be all about who I was going to make out with, now all I care about is what I'm going to make. By the way, can you tell that my husband and I have been re-watching old Sex and the City episodes on a regular basis?

Now that I've thrown a party or two, I can say that the key to a successful shindig is all about finding the right mix: the right mix of people, the right mix of music, and the right mix of easy, tasty standby recipes and one or two more complicated dishes to keep things interesting...and frankly, to show off a little bit. This New Year's Eve, I think we succeeded on all three counts.

Easy:
Olive-Artichoke Crostini (Mario Batali's, via Smitten Kitchen)

Place one garlic clove, one cup of pitted green olives, one can of artichoke hearts in water (drained), and one tablespoon of capers, and a bit of best-quality olive oil into your food processor and blend. Add salt to taste. Smear this on little rounds of baguette that you've toasted in your oven at 350 degrees.

Other great crostini combos include smoked mackerel smashed in with some creme fraiche, chopped celery, horseradish, and a squeeze of lemon (sort of like a super fancy tuna salad) or white beans dressed with a bit of black olive tapenade, basil, garlic, and a simple red wine vinaigrette.

Make Ahead: 
Bacon-wrapped dates (inspired by Suzanne Goin)

Pit about two dozen Medjool dates. Stuff blue cheese (I used gorgonzola) in the center. Cut 12 strips of bacon lengthwise. Wrap bacon around the dates, holding in place with a toothpick. Once these are assembled, they can hang out at room temp for at least an hour, or in the fridge all day. Half an hour before you plan to serve these, place them in a foil-lined pan (the bacon will give off tons of liquid fat, so definitely do not use a cookie sheet) and bake for about 15 minutes in a 450 degree oven.

Asian-y Tuna Ceviche

This takes about 20 minutes to assemble and is a Jamie Oliver concoction. Take one pound of sushi-grade tuna and dice it. Place in a bowl with two finely diced serranos (or jalapenos), the juice from about three limes, a drizzle of sesame oil, a splash of soy, and one or two diced, ripe avocados. You can also grate in a bit of fresh ginger if you like. Stir. I serve this with flat seeded crackers, but it would also work with blue corn chips or toasted bread.

Slightly Advanced:  
Firecracker Shrimp
This is basically the shrimp roll recipe from my Vietnamese salad bowl. I prepped the rolls during the party, since the spring roll skins have a tendency to dry out. However, you could certainly make these far in advance and freeze them. To cook frozen rolls, you do not need to defrost. You can place these directly into the hot oil from the freezer. For a vegetarian version, stir fry some chopped cabbage, carrot, scallions, and tofu briefly in some oil. Season with a tablespoon each of soy & oyster sauce. Wrap tightly in spring roll skins, sealing with a simple paste of flour and water. I served these with some leftover tamarind dressing from the night before, but some nuoc cham, or any Asian-y dipping sauce would be great here.

Even Easier Than Easy:
I always put out a bit of cheese and fruit and maybe some wrapped chocolates. It gives your feast a real feeling of abundance without any added work.



I hope you all had a happy new year! What's your can't-fail party recipe?

2 comments:

  1. Great blog! Very inspiring.

    About the bacon-wrapped dates: be careful if you have friends named Jen and Moupali because they will come to your house and set your broiler on fire with bacon grease. Then you will have flames that need to be put out.

    But the bacon-wrapped dates will still taste delicious.

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  2. I heard about that incident from the firestarter herself. :) Luckily, I managed not to burn the house down.

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