Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Party Food!

I'm here today to talk about my FAVORITE thing! PARTY FOOD! I love cooking for parties and also love every second of brainstorming that goes into planning a party. The photographs above come from a bridal shower that I hosted this weekend. I would love to share a few of the recipes that I used. 
I could have better photographed the display (and am so bummed that I didn't get a photo of the outdoor sangria bar in daylight hours-which I had the most fun decorating) and was also too busy to capture images of the beautiful fresh flowers that came from my co-host (and best friends!) gorgeous Charleston garden. Oh well!
I'm going to divide this party up into 3 separate posts this week. Today I'm going to talk about FOOD! My next blog post will outline the steps that I took to create a lovely sangria bar (we had perfect weather!) and the 3rd part this week will feature desserts that were served. 

Here we go! I would highly recommend serving the following 4 recipes at a party, big or small. I cooked for a guest list of 12-14 girls, so these recipes are mostly suited for that number, but all would be easy to double or halve. 

#1: Red Lentil Hummus
This hummus had a nuttier and more exotic taste than your standard chickpea hummus. I enjoyed trying something new and was able to use Red Lentils that were shipped directly to me as a gift from a lentil farm in Idaho. (I received 20 lbs of dried lentils! THE most perfect gift!)

Cook 1 cup of dry red lentils in 2 cups of water with 3 garlic cloves, minced. Bring to boil, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. 
Drain lentils, reserving cooking liquid.
Puree lentil mixture in food processor and mix 1/2 a cup of olive oil, 1/4 a cup of tahini, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of Tabasco sauce, a pinch of cayenne and the reserved liquid. 
Cover and let sit for at least one hour at room temperature.

I prepared this hummus 2 days before it was served. On shower day, I threw back in food processor with 3/4 a cup of water and 1/4 a cup of olive, another pinch of salt and another pinch of cayenne and it created THE perfect consistency. 
Feel free to add garlic powder, more or less cayenne, salt, pepper, whatever you choose until you achieve the taste that you prefer. I've found that people have very differing opinions on how they choose to take their hummus so feel free to experiment with the taste as you go.
I served this hummus with sesame crackers, carrots and celery. 

#2: Olive and Feta Tapenade with Bread (Baguette, toasted and drizzled with lemon olive oil)
Chop 2 cans (one black, and one green) of olives into a small, chunky texture. I was able to discover olives that were canned with just oil and sea salt and were fabulous. Both were lacking that metallic taste found in some canned olives.
Add one small container of crumbled (full fat) feta cheese.
Toss in a bowl with the juice of one whole lemon, 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary, and 2 garlic cloves, minced. Add a tablespoon of olive oil, stir, and let marinade for as long as possible.
I let my olive marinade in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 2 days. I think that time frame completely added to its deliciousness.
I sliced a baguette, drizzled lemon flavored olive oil and toasted in oven to serve with my olive "tapenade" (which is much chunkier than your typical tapenade, I just chose to name it that because it needed a name!)
This recipe was one that I created as I went along and could EAT every DAY (It was fab and well received by guests! Perfect party food!)

#3: Maple Bacon and Pineapple Skewers
Cook one package of applewood smoked bacon about halfway (on 400 degrees for 15 minutes). Let cool.
Dice a whole fresh pineapple.
Wrap pineapple chunks in bacon and spear with bamboo skewers.
Roll skewers in dark brown sugar.
Bake at 400 degrees for an additional 10 minutes (or until brown sugar begins to caramelize pineapple and bacon is cooked thoroughly).
SERVE! Simple!

#4: Apricot Gorgonzola Canapes
Purchase a package of dried apricots in the bulk department at your grocery store (if you plan to make many of them, this is the most cost efficient option).
Crumble a bit of crumbled gorgonzola cheese in the center of each apricot.
Put one pistachio on the top of each blue cheese adorned apricot.
Drizzle raw honey on top of these golden little pieces of delicious party love!

I hope you can use some of these recipes at your next party! I had so much fun creating them and putting together a fun variety of colorful foods that turned out looking gorgeous together. 
What would I have done, especially in the creation of the next two features (sangria bar and cookie bar!), without my best and longest standing friend? I valued (most of all!) her sophisticated Sangria sampling palate and you can envision the fun we had. I can't wait to continue sharing party details with you this week and I hope some of these ideas are ones that you'd like to use as well.

My little almost 6 month old (with his new big boy haircut from this afternoon) has stared at a candles flame for about as long as I've been writing (what incredible singular focus babies this age have!). I'm signing off now to cuddle him, make tea, and embrace his tiny baby youth that appears to already have begun to disappear with his new trim! Have a wonderful afternoon. Much love. 

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