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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Meet the Candidate

Whew!  It sure feels good to sit down.  We had a meet the candidate for a friend of ours who's running for Congress - Dr. John McGoff. 

It was at the office since parking's easier there AND it's a lot easier to clean.  Ok, fine.  Cleaning's the biggest reason :-)  Tuesday night I made two veggie dips.  The ubiquitous dill dip and green herb tapenade.  Wednesday night I actually left the office at 5:00 to head home and start cooking. 

Here's what we got done Wednesday:

blue cheese spread
crab remoulade dip
black bean salsa
baked brie
shrimp with bloody mary cocktail sauce
hard cooked eggs with anchovy crumbs
chicken salad
spuma di tonno (tuna foam)

Our "bar" was the top of the shredder box.  The appetizers were on pretty much every available surface in our "family room" area.  Here are a couple of shots of the party:

Now, let's get to the important part - appetizers!

The blue cheese spread is from one of my favorite cookbooks - Back Home Again.  It's from the Indianapolis Junior League.  My notes show I first made it in August, 1995 and rated it "Awesome."  Indeed it is.

Blue Cheese Spread

1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/3 crumbled blue cheese
1/3 c lowfat yogurt
1/4 c toasted, chopped pecans
2 T minced chives

Whip the cream cheese.  Mix in the blue cheese, yogurt and chives.  This is best done with a mixer.  Then, fold in the pecans.  Serve with crackers, baguette or sliced apples.

The crab remoulade dip was my invention.  I knew I didn't have time for crab cakes with remoulade sauce.  And, with just a toaster oven at the office heating them would be tough.  None of my crabmeat dip recipes sounded like what I wanted.  So, I made one up.

Crab Remoulade Dip

2 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 20 oz can crabmeat (we use Trader Joe's claw crabmeat)
3 T capers
1 T lemon juice
6 T cream
1 T Old Bay seasoning
2 T chopped shallots
2 t dijon mustard
1/2 t Tabasco
2 t Worcestershire sauce

Whip the cream cheese.  Add the other ingredients with the exception of the capers, shallots and crabmeat.  Blend them with your mixer.  Fold in the capers, shallots and crabmeat.  Pour the mixture into an ovenproof baking dish.  Heat at 350 for about 20 minutes or until bubbly.  Serve with crackers or baguette.

When I pulled Back Home Again out to get the blue cheese spread recipe, the cookbook fell open to Black Bean Salsa.  Gotta make that.  I love the fact that this can be made with rum or tequila.  I've used both and have to say what is best depends on my mood :-)  I'm a huge fan of black beans - well, just about any bean! - and this is one of my very favorite ways to enjoy them.

Black Bean Salsa

1 15 oz can black beans, drained
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 T chopped green onions
1 navel orange, peeled and chopped
2 T finely chopped red bell pepper (I've been known to sub green pepper)
1 T dark rum or tequila
1 1/2 t Dijon mustard
1 1/2 t red wine vinegar
1 T fresh OJ
1/2 t grated orange rind
1/4 c vegetable or olive oil

Mix all the ingredients.  I've found that it's best to mix the beans and dressing ingredients the night before then let them all get happy together in the fridge.  Then, right before serving, I add the jalapenos, orange etc.

Next up was the baked brie.  We've made a dozen variations on this.  Cranberry chutney, peach preserves, you name it.  This was the first baked brie I ever had - back in 1978.  And, it remains my favorite.

Baked Brie

wedge of brie
brown sugar

Put the wedge of brie in an ovenproof baking dish. 

Pack brown sugar on it - about 1/4" deep. 

Arrange pecans over the brown sugar.  You want to cover the entire wedge. 

Bake until it's nice an melty.  About 20 minutes at 350 should do it.

You're actually supposed to poach the shrimp for this in a vodka broth.  It's fabulous but not absolutely necessary.  What is necessary is this fantastic cocktail sauce.  I'm a lover of St. Elmo's super hot cocktail sauce made with fresh horseradish.  That wimpy stuff just doesn't cut it after St. Elmo's.  This is the first homemade version that's passed my test.  I found the recipe in Coastal Living.  We first made it up at Donna and Phil's and all of us just inhaled this.  Then, I made the sauce for our holiday party and the same thing happened.  Seems like everyone else feels the same way I do!

Shrimp with Bloody Mary Cocktail Sauce

1 c ketchup
1/2 c chili sauce
1/4 t celery salt
1 t Tabasco
3 T prepared horseradish
2 T lemon juice
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1 T vodka
1 1/2 t Worcestershire sauce

Mix all the ingredients and serve chilled.

Getting close to done.  Next up, salami wraps.  Here's another of my inventions.  Connie loves salami.  For some reason, I fried some - maybe to go in a grilled cheese?  Who knows.  All of the sudden it felt like a good idea to mix it with some whipped cream cheesa and chopped green olives and schmear it in some fresh salami.  The first year I made these for our holiday party they were inhaled.  Ditto the second year.  They're totally wicked so that's the only time we typically make them.  Guess what?  Connie requested them for this occasion.  I said what the heck, let's make them.

Salami Rolls

4 oz cream cheese, whipped
1/2 c chopped green olives (fine with pimento)
4 oz salami, chopped and fried and drained
4 oz salami, thinly sliced

Mix the cream cheese, green olives and salami.  Schmear about a teaspoon onto each slice of salami and roll it up.

Next to last, hard cooked eggs with anchovy crumbs.  I really wanted to make deviled eggs.  But, they're such a pain in the tookus to transport.  We've made this recipe a couple of times for our big holiday party and they've been very popular.  They'd be a wonderful alternative.

Hard Cooked Eggs with Anchovy Crumbs

10 hard cooked eggs
1/4 c mayonnaise
1 anchovy fillet, finely minced
1/2 t garlic, finely minced
1T unsalted butter
2 anchovy fillets
1/2 t lemon zest
3/4 c panko

Cut the eggs lengthwise into quarters.  Mix the mayonnaise, anchovy and garlic.  Melt the butter in a small skillet.  Add the 2 anchovies and stir until they melt into the butter.  Add the panko and stir until it's browned.  Stir in the lemon zest.  To serve, dollop a bit of the mayonnaise on each egg.  Sprinkle with the panko crumbs. 

Almost done.  Chicken salad.  For years and years I made Ernie and Sue Kobets type chicken salad.  They're the wonderful folks who own the Illinois Street Food Emporium.  Some of the best food in the city.  Just wish it was closer.  Ok, I shouldn't wish that.  I'd blow my budget and calories on their fabulous croissants...  Then, one day I had the chicken salad at Patachou.  Nirvana.  I tried making my own version and found it was very easy and oh, so good.

Chicken Salad

1 chicken, meat shredded
red grapes, halved
pecans, toasted and chopped

Since the size of chickens varies so much, it doesn't make sense to put measurements on this one.  You want to end up with a dense chicken salad.  It's the difference between chunks of chicken and shredded chicken. 

Last, but not least, we did an antipasto platter:

Right about now my friend Monet is probably reading this and wondering if I'm totally daft and have forgotten the desserts.  You see, I actually had some bar cookies left from the holiday party.  They've been in the freezer since then.  We're not big sweet eaters so we've not touched them.  We're still working on the box of mint meltaways from Marianne, the caramels and the amazing chocolate pretzels from Heather that were hostess gifts from the party.  I was going to make cheesecake dip to go with Pirouettes but decided this is my opportunity to clean out my freezer!  The desserts that were left over after the party - they left with Dr. John to go to his colleagues in the emergency room!


Lizzy said...

Everything looks AMAZING!!! I don't know how you do it all, Kate! What a spread~

PS...I make a similar baked brie but sprinkle the topping with Cognac before baking...mmmmmmm.

Kate said...

@Liz - I love that idea! In fact, the leftover brie is for Sunday evening and I'll dojust that :-)

Eliotseats said...

You really outdid yourself! Good luck to your friend!