Suggestions Needed: Arty Casual Finger Food Party
Hi everyone! My parents are holding a party for their friends mid-September and they have asked me to 'cater' the thing. There will be about a dozen people, all friends of my father from his cartooning circle. A mix of adventerous and modest eaters.
We are doing strictly finger foods - no formal sitdown - that will be distributed throughout the evening. I'm thinking of plating some things on artist palettes, things like that..
I've come up with a few things, but I was just wondering what suggestions you guys might have. This place always flows with awesome ideas.
I'm leaning in the direction of casual but impressive (does that make sense? :) Like bar/finger foods that 'Hounds would love.
I was at a party last year and the caterers served what I called "salad shots" in parmesan cups...the presentation was ADORABLE...it was caesar salad in little crispy parmesan cups, sort of in the shape of a shot glass...this recipe looks very close to what we ate...everyone kept commenting on it. Not sure if it's what you are looking for...there is a recipe for carpaccio in parmesan cups also out there on the 'net.
Sorry, I used 'spice' the wrong way; I meant nothing hot :)
She realizes she has a pretty bland palette, and I am the complete opposite - as are some of the guests - so she's okay with me doing a few things she'd never eat. She's more out to impress everyone else and tends to not even eat when hosting ;)
AH!! Found what appears to be the actual recipe for those caesar salad "shots." They're called Caesar Teasers....there seems to be a trick to making the cups and what a waste if they don't come out (but you could still eat them)...just thought I'd post this ... it may be too elaborate and time-consuming for you right now, but I may experiment this weekend with this.
From "Surreal Gourmet Bites"
5-ounce block Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about 2 cups; inferior Parmesans may not be up to the task at hand)
1/4 cup safflower, canola or olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 anchovies or 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (omit if serving vegetarians)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 egg yolk
3 cups diced romaine lettuce hearts (the inner part of the romaine)
12 small croutons
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Set out 4 shot glasses and turn them upside down.
On a nonstick baking sheet, make 4 evenly spaced mounds of cheese, 2 tablespoons each. Tap the side of the pan gently so the cheese spreads out into circles roughly 3 inches in diameter. Bake for exactly 5 minutes. Let cool for 15 seconds, then pick up each individual cheese circle by its edges with a metal spatula and drape it over and upturned shot glass. Move quickly. After all 4 Parmesan cups are in place, use your fingers to gently mold them around the glasses. Let cool for 2 minutes, then lift Parmesan cups off the glasses. Repeat the whole process until you have 12 cups. Reserve.
To a blender or small food processor, add oil, garlic, lemon juice, Dijon, vinegar, anchovies, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Puree. Add egg yolk and pulse a couple of times. Reserve.
Just before assembling, toss lettuce with 2 tablespoons dressing. Add more dressing if desired.
To assemble, line up Parmesan cups, fill with salad, and top each with a crouton.
I tried making these parmesan cups for my own version of caesar salad, and I have to report that it wasn't a success. At least, not without a major modification.
First, the parmesan cups are quite fussy to make - there's only a split second between being too hot to pick up and too cool to drape, so I could only do two at a time. Even then, the first one would tear (because it was too hot) and the second one wouldn't drape well (because it was too cool). And I could only manage to create shallow cup shapes, not high-sided shot glasses.
The worst thing was that when I served them, the caesar dressing leaked out through the holes in the parmesan cups, so it was too messy to eat. Maybe the parmesan cups weren't supposed to have spaces, but given the amount of cheese and size specified, there were spaces in mine.
But the parmesan chips looked pretty and tasted FANTASTIC, so I ended up breaking them and putting pieces of them on the salad instead of croutons. Now that's a winner!!! A mini cup of salad with a quarter-circle of parmesan crisp was extremely tasty and nice-looking, too.
I plan to make the parmesan crisps - no draping this time - for my next party. And I recommend using the best parmesan you can buy.
Anne, thank you for this report...I do know that when the caterers served these, everyone 'oohed and aahed'...there was no leakage, so maybe they'd experimented enough to fine-tune the recipe, I don't know. I still want to try it, though! (heh, but first I have to go out and buy 4 shotglasses!)
Sounds like fun! Here are two well-tested recipes that always impress at parties ...
Muhammara, a beautiful & tasty red hummus-like dip:)
(You can tone down the spice a bit for your mom. I'm not sure if it's the color or the smell, but this dip seems to appeal to just about anyone ... even my sister-in-law, who is the pickiest and least adventurous eater I've ever known, willingly tried it and immediately declared it delicious.
Sesame Wonton Crisps, deep-fried deliciousness and worth the hand cramp you'll get from flipping wonton wrappers with a tong for an hour or two:)
(I cut the wrappers in half on the diagonal, which looks prettier and makes more crisps.
Both are pretty simple to make and can be prepared a day or two ahead of time without compromising flavor -- in fact, the muhammara really benefits from sitting at least 24 hours. Good luck with the party ... let us know what you decide to make and how everything turns out!
Actually, I already planned something like that! When I make mine, I find mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes of approximately the same size, cut them in half, then assemble a half a mozz ball and half a tomato to form a full sphere again - then wrap in a strip of basil and skewer. Olive oil/balsamic dip on the side.
Loving the polenta cracker idea. I think I want to make that for myself tomorrow.. :)