Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Autumnal Hors d'Oeuvres & Cocktail Party Fun

As many of you know, I just had an open house for my company, Rival Marketing, and went into a cooking frenzy for a couple of weeks preparing for the big event. Seasonal ingredients make for the freshest tasting, most vibrant and delicious hors d'oeuvres. Below are a couple recipes that I felt best captured the season. Judging by their quick disappearance from the serving trays, I take it they were a hit. My sense is that the appearance drew them in and that the taste kept them coming back for more!

Aside from food, cocktails and t-shirt giveways, another thing we did at the party was to set up a "Photo Booth" with one of our computers. There is a feature on the new Macs that enables you to sit in front of the monitor and take a photo really easily. I highly recommend setting this up at your next cocktail party if you have a Mac. We had a blast with it (note photo). Gives people something to do besides eat and drink (although there was still plenty of that going on!). And as the night goes on, the photos get more interesting as you might imagine. Good times.

Eggplant, Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Canapés
This recipe is from "Martha Stewart's Hors D'Oeuvres Hanbook," an amaaaaaazing book available everywhere fine books are sold. Seems complicated but it's not. Very easy actually.

1 small eggplant (10 oz)
2 1/2 ounces creamy feta cheese
12 1/4-inch-thick slices of pumpernickel bread
6 oz of baby zucchinis or a larger 6-oz zucchini
2 large roasted bell peppers
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

How to:
1. Place the whole eggplant on a baking sheet in the middle of the oven and roast until the skin buckles and the flesh is cooked throughout (30 - 40 minutes). Remove the eggplant and slice open.
2. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
3. Scrape away all the cooked eggplant flesh from the skin and place it in a food processor. Set aside to cool.
4. Crumble feta into the food processor with the eggplant and blend. Season generously with salt and pepper and set aside.
5. Reduce over temperature to 300 degrees. Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet. Place the bread slices in the oven to dry out and toast slightly, 5 - 7 minutes. Let cool. Cut each slice into a 2.5 x 3-inch piece.
6. Using a mandoline or vegetable peeler, cut the zucchini lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the zucchini slices lightly with olive oil. Working in batches, grill the slices until tender, about 2 minutes each side until light grill marks appear. Remove and set aside.
7. Generously spread each bread slice with the eggplant/feta purée. Place a roasted red pepper* piece over the purée (in the middle). Arrange a slice of similar size on each side of the eggplant.

Voil. So pretty, declicious and healthy!

* Roasting the Peppers:
To roast peppers, rub olive oil on the exterior of the peppers and place right on the flame of the gas stove, turning occasionally until all sides are charred. Let cool slightly and peel off the charred exterior. Cut the pepper in half and remove seeds and veins. Cut into 3 inch by 1/2-inch slices.

Pattypans with Tapenade, Goat Cheese & Toasted Pine Nuts
My Own Invention!

18 - 20 mini pattypan squashes
6 oz Goat Cheese
1 tsp Honey
2 tsp fresh Thyme
2 tbsp Toasted Pine Nuts

How to:
1. So that the pattypans will sit upright, shave the bottom off of each with a paring knife.
2. With a small melon baller, scoop out the top of each so there's room for the tasty filling.
3. Steam the squash for about 7 minutes (until cooked but not too soft).
4. Spoon about 1/4 tsp tapenade in the bottom of each squash.
5. Blend the honey with the goat cheese with a spoon.
6. Cover the tapenade with goat cheese (about 1/2 tsp per squash).
7. Top off the goat cheese with 2 - 3 toasted pine nuts and a small sprig of thyme.
8. Refrigerate to set the ingredients.

Serve at room temperature. They're really beautiful and a real mouthful of flavors and textures.


Blogger Carol said...

This party was great fun! And the food, delish! Having eaten (more than) my share, I can vouch for the hors d'oeuvres' being mini feasts not only for the for eyes, but for the palate (and stomach). Lynne's pattypans were irresistibly cute, tiny little things - but with big boy flavor; I mean, we're talking tapenade and goat cheese! The eggplant canapes had an interesting and very satisfying earthy richness, a kind of sophisticated comfort food - and beautiful to look at. Oh yeh, the output from the photo booth was definitely hilarious!

2:22 PM  

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