Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fall Party 2009 Menu Review

OK, so it's been ages since I posted here. Sorry, sorry, sorry. Been busy with other projects this past week. But we did have a party last weekend, and I am happy to say that it went really well, and here is the food we served. I didn't take pictures, sorry - most of it is pretty predictable-looking, though. Along with the requisite chips and salsa and cheese and crackers, we had:

  • Spanish Tortilla - Tried and true, I love this stuff (recipe below)
  • Eggplant and fig caponata - The last of the year's eggplant had to go into something festive
  • Cheddar cheese balls - Tasty and can be made ahead (recipe below)
  • Prosciutto and Gruyere Pinwheels - I make these for lots of occasions; they are easy, and very tasty. 
  • Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onion Squares - These turned out okay, but the dough was very, very soft - no way it could be rolled. Not sure if there's an error in the recipe or if I did something wrong. People ate them, at any rate.
  • Outrageous Brownies (see below)
  • Blueberry tea cake (see below)
  • Cutout cookies (pumpkins) - We had a lot of kids in attendance, so I thought I should make these, too. 

(Sheila Lukins, All Around the World)
About 2 1/2 lb Idaho potatoes, peeled
2 c olive oil for frying
1 1/2 c thinly sliced onions
6 large eggs (NOTE: I generally use 8, because I use a larger pan than she does)
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cut the potatoes into irregular 1/8-inch slices. 
  2. Heat oil in a 10 1/2-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until it starts to shimmer. To test heat, drop in a slice of potato; if bubbles form, it's ready. It should not be so hot as to crisp the potato. (NOTE: I make this in a 12-inch skillet; otherwise I would have potatoes all over my stove.)
  3. Stir in potato slices, coating them with oil. Partially cover and cook 5 min, stirring once and breaking up a bit with the back of a wooden spoon. They should begin to color and soften slightly. 
  4. Add onions, stir, and continue to cook partially covered 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes. 
  5. Remove cover and cook 15 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Potatoes and onion should be soft and lightly golden but not crusty; adjust heat as needed. 
  6. Over a bowl, drain the potatoes and onion through a coarse strainer, removing as much oil as possible. Reserve the oil for frying other vegetables. 
  7. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add drained potatoes and onion. Season well with salt and pepper. Add about 1 tsp of the reserved oil to the skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the egg mixture, reduce the heat to medium-low, and if it begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, shake slightly or loosen with a spoon or spatula. Cook until the bottom is pale golden, 4-5 minutes, and invert onto a flat plate. (NOTE: I have tried this inversion thing maybe once; I finish the top of the tortilla under the broiler instead.)
  8. Add more oil if necessary, and slip the omelet back in, uncooked side down. Cook until the eggs are cooked but still soft, another 3-5 minutes. 

This keeps well and tastes great hot or at room temp.

Cheddar Cheese Balls
(Bon Appetit, Nov 2001)
Recipe makes about 60 bites

2 c all purpose flour
1 pound coarsely grated Cheddar cheese
3/4 chilled unsalted butter, diced
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp whipping cream

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  2. Combine flour, cheese, butter, and salt in food processor and blend until cheese is finely chopped. Add cream, and blend until moist clumps form.
  3. Roll dough into balls, using 1 level Tbsp for each. Place on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart.
  4. Bake cheese balls until cooked through and golden brown on the bottom, about 22 minutes. Cool completely on sheets.
These can be made a day ahead; keep in an airtight container at room temp.

Outrageous Brownies
(Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook)

1 lb unsalted butter
1 lb plus 12 oz semisweet chocolate chips
6 oz unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 Tbsp instant coffee granules
2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 c sugar
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour (divided)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 c chopped walnuts (optional, of course)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 12x18x1-inch baking sheet.
  2. Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmer water. Allow to cool slightly. 
  3. In a large bowl, stir together (do not beat) the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. 
  4. Stir the warm chocolate into the eggs mixture and allow to cool to room temperature. 
  5. In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate.
  6. Toss the walnuts and remaining chocolate chips with the remaining 1/4 c flour, then add them to the batter. Pour into the baking sheet.
  7. Bake 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force out any air bubbles. Bake another 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut.
These are definitely better after a night in the fridge to set up. Ina, bless her, suggests cutting these into "20 large squares." For parties I cut them into many, many finger-size pieces.

Blueberry Tea Cake
Lisa Yockelson, Baking By Flavor

3 c unsifted all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/4 c fresh blueberries
3 Tbsp dried blueberries
1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened
2 c vanilla-scented granulated sugar (or just regular sugar if you're me)
4 large eggs
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c thick, cultured sour cream
3 Tbsp buttermilk

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Film the inside of a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick spray and set aside. 
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom onto a sheet of waxed paper. In a medium-sized bowl, lightly toss the fresh and dried blueberries with 2 1/2 tsp of the sifted mixture. 
  3. Cream the butter in the large bowl of a freestanding mixer on moderate speed for 3 minutes. Add the sugar in three additions, beating for 1 minute after each addition. 
  4. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing for 45 seconds after each addition.
  5. Blend in the vanilla extract. 
  6. On low speed, alternately add the sifted ingredients in three additions with the sour cream in two additions, beginning and ending with the sifted flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently with a rubber spatula, to keep the batter even-textured. 
  7. Add the buttermilk, and beat on low speed for 1 minute.
  8. Stir in the fresh and dried blueberries. 
  9. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, and level the top. 
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes or until risen and set, and a wooden pick withdraws clean. The baked cake will be a golden brown and pull away from the sides of the pan slightly. Cool in the pan on a rack for 5-10 minutes, then invert. Cool completely. Dredge the top in confectioners sugar just before serving. Use a serrated knife for the cleanest cut.
I have made this cake a dozen times, probably, and it is always a hit--very moist and intensely flavored. I <3 Lisa Y.


Adrienne Martini said...

I just don't know that you can go wrong with any brownie recipe that starts with a pound of butter...

RJS said...

Exactly. These are fantastic.