More Party Food

In a continuation of the party I went to last weekend and catered as well – I am sharing the food that was prepared for 30 people.  First off the party was amazing – my friends Jay and Jonathan live in Cambridge Ontario and have a fabulous historic home on a huge lot so the evening was spent under a pergola on the deck and then on the grounds for a big bonfire as the evening got cooler.  Too much fun was had by all.

Last weekend I posted the stuffed dates and salad (truth be told the salad was for another event but I liked the way it turned out). This week are all of the foods I prepared.  Remember everything was to be finger food style so plates and cutlery were not a necessity.

Here was my thinking behind the choice of dishes I made. I wanted food that could be eaten with fingers (i.e. on skewers) and to cover the basics of salad, main course meat/fish, side dishes and then dessert.

The while I had the above order in mind – we put everything out together as it worked better for people to just come to the table and pick their choices.

The menu and recipes – this is a long list so stay with me on this…

First off salad skewers made with grape tomatoes, bocconcini cheese balls and chunks of baby cucumbers. Just before serving I drizzled some balsamic glaze over these skewers.

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Next on the list was smoked salmon with cream cheese on crackers with some crushed dried nori (seaweed strips) sprinkled over top.

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Then came Korean grilled beef skewers and the honey mustard chicken skewers.  Below is the recipe for the meat – the Korean Beef is now a new favourite – everyone went nuts over it.

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I did the prep work for the meat the day before and marinated for 24 hours in ziplock bags.

Honey Mustard Chicken Skewers

So the honey mustard chicken is simple – just mix about a ¼ cup of honey with about 1/4 cup of olive oil and about 4 tbsp of dijon mustard – adjust to suit your taste.  I also added a few crushed garlic cloves and some ground black pepper. I used 6 chicken breasts cut into thin strips lengthwise so there was enough to put on a skewer.

Korean Beef Skewers – I got this recipe from Food and Wine magazine but adjusted a bit:

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons dry white wine – I used the same amount of chicken broth as I didn’t have any white wine handy

2 large garlic cloves, very finely chopped

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

1 2 1/2 pound beef flank steak, cut across the grain into thin long slices

1/4-inch-thick slices 16 scallions – I didn’t use these

Vegetable oil, for rubbing

Salt – didn’t add this either as the soy sauce had enough salt

1. Combine the soy sauce, sugar, white wine, chopped garlic, toasted sesame oil, and crushed red pepper, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the sliced flank steak and coat thoroughly in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate the steak for at least 4 hours or overnight. 2. Working in batches, grill the steak over high heat (I BBQ’d it) until the slices are richly browned and medium-rare, about 30 seconds per side. Put pieces on a plate and let them cool – then put them on skewers just before serving.

Next was mini turkey meatballs in a sweet chilli sauce – this is my usual baked turkey meatball recipe but just made them smaller and tossed them with a store bought sweet chilli sauce instead of tomato sauce and put some into a cup for dipping as well.

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Next on the menu was my tuna and sweet potato cakes but made mini size and a cup of 1% yogurt for dipping.

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I then thought I needed something else that wasn’t meat and what do people love more than shrimp? Again I had a craving for shrimp and chorizo sausage so that was the next group of skewers.

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These are super simple – I sautéd the sliced chorizo and put aside – next I sautéd the shrimp in some garlic and put them in a dish – then it was just a matter of putting them together on bamboo skewers (they looked better on the shorter skewers than the long ones)

The side dishes were baby stuffed potatoes where you just boil the baby potatoes, then scoop out the centre leaving a bit of potato to hold the shape and then mix crumbled cooked bacon, chives and sour cream with the bits of potato you have scooped out . Once it is all mixed just spoon it back into the potatoes.  This was quite finicky but tasted good in the end so worth while.

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Last of the main course food was grilled asparagus wrapped in prosciutto.  Simple and easy – just toss the asparagus in olive oil, then grill them (I did them on the BBQ) and then wrap a couple of stalks in a piece of prosciutto and you are done.

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Finally dessert – you saw the dates in my last post (I will put in again just so you see them). I put fresh fruit on skewers so they could be taken away from the table and you got several pieces at one without a mess. Each skewer had a slice of pineapple, a green grape, a strawberry, a purple grape and a raspberry.  You can make these with any fruit you like.

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And there you have it the whole party in food.  What I am not showing is the amazing evening we all had.  Great company, kudos to the hosts and all I can say is “when is the next party”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Meatloaf – who would have thought it….

I have never made a meatloaf. I know it’s hard to believe but there it is. I am not even sure why I haven’t made meatloaf before.  It is really pure comfort food and after spending a weekend visiting my friend Victoria in the country and making it there I am doubly amazed that I have never made it.

Meatloaf has to be the fastest, easiest, low cost meal going. Here is how Victoria made it and I have to say it was delicious both for dinner and for sandwiches the next day served cold.  What a staple meal to have in the fridge! Have I mentioned heathly too?

Turkey Meatloaf

1lb. ground turkey

1 chopped onion

A few chopped sundried tomatoes (only because she had them on hand – experiment with whatever is in your fridge)

1 egg beaten

½ cup relish of your choosing including salsa, bbq sauce, apricot jam (we used a sweet and spicy relish from Harry and Davids)

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and put mixture into a loaf pan.

Cook at 350 for 1 hour

That’s it!  How simple and it tasted great but the real treat was having it cold the next day in a sandwich (olive chibata buns).

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Shepherds Pie (with a twist)

So who doesn’t remember growing up having shepherds pie and loving it? Okay perhaps some of you didn’t have it – but I did, and I always loved it.  For the last few years though I have tried to reduce the number of carbohydrates I consume so I switched to sweet potatoes from white potatoes (when I have potatoes which isn’t that often). The “twist” I learned from my friend Zannat (who’s blog I have reposted a number of times – food4happiness). The twist is to add lentils to your ground beef. It adds fibre, protein and increases the amount of the beef mixture so you get much more for very little extra cost. I happen to love lentils so this is perfect for me. I substituted white potatoes for sweet and didn’t use too too much on top so it still remains healthy and low fat.

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Ingredients:

1 lb of lean (I used extra lean) ground beef

1 tin of lentils (cooked)

1 cooking onion – chopped

1-1.5 cups of mixed frozen vegetables (add as much as you like really)

1 pint of mushrooms chopped (about 10-12 large)

1 egg whisked

4-5 sweet potatoes medium sized (add more if you want a thicker topping)

¼ cup of low fat yogurt

½ cup of grated parmesan cheese

A couple of dashes of ketchup (less than ¼ cup)

1 tsp of Harissa spice mix (if you don’t have just add a pinch of cumin and a tiny pinch of cardamon and a pinch of cinnamon – really only a tiny amount of each).

1 tbsp of chopped garlic – about 2-3 cloves

I don’t use salt but if you want you can add a pinch of salt

½ tsp of cornstarch mixed with 3 tbsp of water or beef broth (not obligatory – this step just helps thicken the beef mixture and absorb some of the liquid)

3 tsp olive oil

Directions:

Sauté a chopped onion till tender and slightly browned in 1 tsp of olive oil (I sometimes add a tsp of brown sugar to help caramelize the onion a bit). Add 1 more tsp of oil with the garlic, mushrooms and  frozen vegetables once the onions are pretty much done. Sauté all together and add the broth and corn starch. Remove and put in a bowl for the time being.

Add beef and a tin of lentils to the pan along with the spices, ketchup, salt and pepper. Brown the meat with the lentils and then add back in the vegetables, onions and mushrooms and stir together. Add the egg and mix everything up.

While the meat is cooking, peel and cube the potatoes (try to make them even sized pieces so they will cook evenly). Microwave them in water until they are able to be pieced easily by a fork. You can also boil them if you prefer – if boiling then start the potatoes before the meat and vegetables.

Turn off the heat on the meat when all cooked and let sit in pan. Drain potato pieces into a bowl and add yogurt and parmesan cheese and whip using either a hand blender or a stand mixer. Using this type of equipment whips air into the potatoes and makes them a bit lighter. You can also do it by hand it just takes a bit longer and is more work. Once the potatoes are whipped taste and add seasoning as needed.

Put meat mixture into a deep dish and pat it down so it is firm. Then “frost” the top with the potato mixture as you would a cake. Bake in the oven for about 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees (F) to brown the top a bit and then serve. I made it in several containers as you can see in the picture and froze it so I had lots of meals from the one cooking session.

Broccoli, Sweet Potato and Cheddar Soup

I thought I had blogged broccoli soup before but I don’t see a post on my timeline about this particular version so I am blogging it now.  This is super easy to make and tastes great.  Can be a meal, a side or even served as an appetizer in a small shooter style glass. I have been seeing this from time to time served at dinner parties where you don’t want to fill up on soup.  A small amount of soup is served in a shooter or other style of small glass, it is literally just a mouthful or two – that way the guest gets a taste. It is something different and they don’t get full on soup before the meal).

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Here is the recipe for this easy and versatile soup.

Ingredients:

2 small onions diced

1 large or two small sweet potatoes cut into small pieces

6-8 cups of chicken or vegetable broth (if made with vegetable broth it can be vegetarian and or gluten free)

1 head of broccoli cut into small pieces

1 cup shredded old cheddar cheese

Dash of oregano

Salt and pepper to taste ( I don’t add salt but you can if you like)

 

Directions:

Sauté onions in a pot with some olive oil. When softened add the small pieces of broccoli and sweet potato and the oregano. Stir and cover for a minute or two then add the broth.  Stir everything, cover and let cook with a slight boil but not a strong boil for about 15 minutes until the potato and broccoli are soft.

Using a blender put small batches in the blender and add some cheddar to each batch.  Mix until puréed but still slightly thickened.  Pour into a large bowl and keep the process going until all the soup has been blended.  Serve with a nice crusty bread and there you have lunch, dinner, appetizer or side dish!

Enjoy!

 

Fish Cakes

While I normally use tuna and sweet potato in these cakes, I felt like using a fresh fish this time so went and bought haddock (it was on for a good price). The process is almost the same as the tuna but a bit more involved in that I had to cook the haddock first.  I debated how I would do this but settled on a quick, easy and yummy method which was to poach it. See below for method and recipe for this dish.  It turned out well and I was able to freeze a number of the cakes and they were just as good when defrosted. Great to keep in the freezer for those days when you don’t know what to have or just want a light dinner.

Fish cakes

Ingredients and Directions to serve 4 (2 cakes per person):

I first make a broth for  poaching, this usually includes the following items but you can add anything you like.

2-3 cups vegetable, chicken or fish broth (I use what I have on hand)

1- Lemongrass stalk – smash the white portion of the lemongrass so it is almost chewed looking and put the whole thing in the broth

Handful of cilantro fresh or 1 tsp of dried

A good shake of lemon pepper or just a pinch of regular pepper

2-3 tbsp of lemon juice and if you are using fresh add some zest

Doesn’t matter what the broth looks like just what it tastes like.

Fish cake ingredients:

6-8 small-medium fillets of fish

3 large sweet potatoes

Place as many pieces of fish fillets into the broth as will fit making sure the fish is covered in broth.  It will only take about a minute or two depending on the thickness of the fish. The haddock I used was not a thick cut but about 1/2″ fillets. When the fillet is slightly flakey and looks cooked, take it out and drain it on paper towels so it is not too moist. Add more fish to the broth till it is all poached

Crumble the fish into a large bowl and add softened sweet potato (boil or microwave the potato in small uniform pieces until it is soft enough to mash).

Add the following ingredients:

2 tbsp dijon mustard

2 tbsp plain yogurt (use more if you need to make it more moist or add a  spoonful of the broth)

1/2 – 3/4 of a cup of panko crumbs (use breadcrumbs if you don’t have panko). Add 1/2 cup to start and add more as you need till the consistency of the mixture will shape and hold in a ball in your hands

I don’t use salt but feel free to add a pinch to the mixture

Optional – chopped cilantro or parsley fresh

Form the cakes in your hands and sauté them till golden on one side then flip over until the other side is golden.  Take out of the pan and place on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil (I use canola oil as it has a higher burn rate – meaning you can heat it higher than olive oil without it smoking). I cook on a medium heat – if it is too high the cakes can burn.

Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt, sour cream or a seasoned yogurt or dip – we used a jalapeno greek yogurt dip mixed with some plain yogurt to reduce the heat level a bit. Served with a salad this makes a nice dinner.

Note: You can also make small bite size cakes to use as appetizers

Leftover Brisket with Friends

As many of you who read this blog will have figured out by now, I love sharing food with friends.  It is one of my favourite things to do.

This time the sharing took place with my friends and neighbours just a couple of doors over. Zannat (who writes a great blog I follow “food 4 happiness“), made steamed collard greens with garlic – of course anything made with garlic in my books has to be good. I brought over leftover BBQ brisket and sweet potato and cauliflower mash.  The great thing about brisket is, it is always better the next day or even two days after. Below is how I made the potato mash.  See the beef brisket link above for the brisket recipe.

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Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Mash – perfect comfort food

1 potato per person

1 handful of cauliflower pieces per person

Boil or steam both the above ingredients till soft enough to mash (you may need to drain them well so mash is not too watery)

Combine both in a bowl and add a spoonful or two of yogurt and a handful of grated old cheddar cheese (yes that is the secret ingredient!)

I use a hand mixer to really blend the ingredients well. Mix till fluffy and there are no lumps.

Serve and enjoy!

Tahini Dipping Sauce

Had this at my friend Victorias recently with cut up vegetables and roasted sweet potato slices.  I thought it was wonderful and immediately we were coming up with a ton of uses for this dipping sauce which is easy to make and delicious.

Here is the recipe (Serves 4) – sorry no picture

Whisk together the following ingredients:

1/2 cup of Greek yogurt (we used regular yogurt and it was perfect)

1/4 cup of tahini

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp coriander

Salt to taste

1/4 tsp sriracha sauce (hot chilli sauce)

Serve with vegetable, fries, as a creamy dressing for salad, with coleslaw…..Come up with your ideas and send them over!

Dinner with Friends

Well this is the second or third post I have done about dinner with my friends Ted and Judy (the fabulous cooks who years ago inspired me and my love of cooking).  The other night (the day after Judy’s birthday) I went over for a relaxing evening of amazing food, good wine and great company. Little did I know I was going to get a meal fit for a queen!  My mouth is watering just remembering it.

Here are a couple of pictures of the dinner along with a description that will make your mouth water too!

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Now for those of you who don’t eat meat – I understand the meat portion won’t be of interest but for those of you who do – what can I say….. I don’t eat red meat very often but this was outstanding.

Here goes….. Mashed sweet and white potatoes mixed with lobster meat and roasted garlic and a touch of olive oil (instead of butter).

Filet of aged beef  grilled to perfection (although Ted thought it was about 2 minutes too long – both Judy and I disagreed) topped with seared foie gras and au jus.

The beef was placed on a bed of baby kale, spinach and swiss chard sautéed with vegetable broth and garlic.

We all thought the idea of mashed potatoes with lobster was brilliant – I got to take home leftovers 😉 so you know I was a happy camper.

Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes and Apples

My friend Suzanne found this recipe and passed it along – sounds yummy.  Keep in mind the quantity listed is for 10-12 servings.  I would likely cut down on the olive oil but that is just me. The recipe comes from a site called my.recipes – they mention the recipe is from Food and Wine.  Check it out!

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/quinoa-salad-sweet-potato-53420000017824/

Tuna and sweet potato cakes

I make these as both a meal and a smaller version for an appetizer. Makes approx. 8-10 meal size cakes or about 20-30 mini appetizers. They freeze very well.

3 tins canned white or light tuna flaked (makes life easier if it is flaked already)

2 small sweet potatoes

2 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp chili and garlic sauce (optional)

2 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 cup approx. bread crumbs (panko if you have) or I sometimes do half bread crumbs and half parmesan cheese (as a binder to absorb moisture)

2 eggs (I use egg whites so about 1/4 of a small carton

Salt and pepper to taste

Peel, dice and boil or microwave sweet potatoes until soft

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and mash until it is similar to hamburger consistency. Form into whichever size pancakes you want.  Fry in a light oil until lightly browned on one side – flip and do the same on the other side. Serve warm or cold with a dollop of yogurt on top or on the side for dipping.  For the appetizer version put on a platter with a small bowl of yogurt.