We're starting today with the Bloody Marys and appetizers we served on our screened porch.
Ok, so while I'm showing off the table, I just have to show you the absolutely gorgeous hosta right across the way. Every time we walk out there, we comment on how lovely they are!
V-8 juice or tomato juice
St. Elmo's shrimp cocktail sauce
freshly ground pepper
homemade pepper vodka (recipe follows)
skewers with: cornichons, cocktail olives and almond stuffed olives
Directions: This is essentially a season to taste exercise. I have friends who swear by pickle juice in their Bloody Marys (yes, Milt, I'm talking about you.) Others, like Donna, have special recipes for the seasonings. She's got hers posted inside one of the cabinet doors in their rv. It's really good stuff. But I remember the Bloody Marys we used to have at the beach in Florida. These are very similar. We loved the kick the St. Elmo's shrimp cocktail sauce gave the drinks. It was enhanced by the pepper vodka.
Homemade Pepper Vodka
The inspiration for this came from a cookbook called The Martha's Vineyard Table by Jessica B. Harris. I'd tried making pepper vodka by dumping about 1/4 c of freshly grated black pepper, a handful of crushed red pepper and a jalapeno into a 5th of vodka. It was the color of mud and even when it was poured through a coffee filter, wasn't a terribly wonderful concoction. Shortly thereafter, we traipsed to the Cape to see the kids and I bought the aforementioned cookbook. Voila! Just a note: The colors have faded since I made the vodka about three months ago. If you're going to use this as a showpiece for a party, make it a couple of weeks ahead to allow time for the flavors to blend but keep the colors from fading.
fifth of vodka
green bell pepper
yellow bell pepper
orange bell pepper
red bell pepper
Remove the cap and the plastic pourer from the bottle of vodka. Core the peppers. Cut them in rings about 1/4" wide. Make one cut in each ring. Feed the peppers into the bottle one color at a time. Finish with the jalapeno. Cap the bottle back up and allow the vodka to steep for a couple of weeks prior to using it. It will get stronger as time goes on, but we enjoy the colors so much that we just leave the peppers in there.
adapted from: The Martha's Vineyard Table by Jessica B. Harris
While the kids were here we did a culinary tour of Indy. As usual, I had a lapful of cooking magazines. One of them was the most recent Everyday by Rachael Ray. It was the grilling issue. Perfect. All I remember seeing is a mozzarella ball toasted like a marshmallow. Brilliant. An adult s'more. Not that being an adult has EVER stopped me from eating a kid food - don't be silly, a lot of them are far too good to ignore. But, toasted mozzarella, olive tapenade and crackers. Sign me up.
mozzarella balls - 1" diameter
crackers (we used Triscuits the first time and rosemary crackers the second)
Skewer a mozzarella ball on the end of a skewer. Toast it over an open flame until the cheese is brown and bubbly. Don't cook it too long or the cheese will ooooooze off the skewer and into your fire and create what we call a mell of a hess. Serve on a cracker schmeared with olive tapenade. You can buy the bottled stuff or make homemade using the following recipe.
from Everyday with Rachael Ray
This tapenade serves as the base for The Olives tart. The tart is one of the best things I've ever eaten. When I first met Connie, I fixed him pissaladiere. He loved the combination of caramelized onions, anchovies, kalamata olives and romano cheese. This tart kicks it up another notch. I've used the tart pastry with lots of other dishes as well as the olive tapenade. Tonight (Sunday - the day AFTER the party) I used up most of the leftovers. The tapenade is still safely tucked away in the refrigerator until I can make the Olives Tart on Thursday. I had to laugh today on the way to the office. Connie was going on and on about how wonderful the olive tapenade was and how he'd never had any as good... I casually mentioned that he'd probably had it at least five times and he'd even made it once... REALLY? He says. Really. It's the tapenade from the Olives Tart. OHHHH. That's really good stuff. It is indeed. Very versatile. I wish I had this in my refrigerator all the time!
1 c kalamata olives, pitted
5 anchovy fillets
5 cloves garlic
1/2 c olive oil
1 T fresh rosemary leaves or 1 t dried
Place all of the ingredients in a food processor
and blend until it's a smooth paste.
from The Olives Cookbook by Todd English
Crispy Salami Rolls
28 salami slices, whole - 4" diameter
12 salami slices, chopped
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 c muffeletta (or, you can substitute chopped green olives)
Brown the salami slices until they're nice and crispy.
Drain them very well. Beat the cream cheese until it's fluffy. Fold in the crispy salami and muffeletta.
Schmear about 2 teaspoons of the cream cheese mixture on each salami slice and roll them up.