Back in November I vowed to throw a huge inauguration bash. Hats. Horns. A loud, crazy, ‘let’s hear it for hope, change and democracy’ party. The day before the inauguration I’m instead left with thoughts of the blowout celebration that I would have had. Blame my lack of festivities on too many like-minded friends traveling, too many deadlines and too many other festivities to plan. With my fantasy menu still in mind, though, below are a few items that I would have served had I hosted a ”Yes We Did!” shindig.
APRICOT-GOAT CHEESE COINS
Wouldn’t it be nice if the economic crisis could be solved so simply, with a platter of apricot coins? (Yep, I’m really reaching with that one.) Originating with my friend Elizabeth, who found a variation of it on the Food Network website, this recipe has been altered yet again to make it slightly simpler but no less delicious.
25 dried Turkish apricots
3 ounces goat cheese
2 teaspoons skim milk
handful of candied, cinnamon almonds, cut into small pieces
honey for drizzling
Whisk together the milk and goat cheese until cheese becomes smooth and spreadable. Spread cheese on center of each apricot and top with a piece of an almond. Place apricots on a platter. Drizzle with honey and serve.
RED, WHITE AND BASIL SANDWICHES
Serves 6 to 12
If I used African blue basil, I could call this a red-white-and-blue sandwich. As African basil isn’t actually blue, has a distinct clove taste and is more difficult to find, I’ll skip the patriotic color scheme and choose traditional sweet basil for this dish.
12 slices of Haloumi cheese, pan-fried
4 tomatoes, washed and sliced
generous amount of fresh basil, washed
1 loaf of organic bread, sliced
splash of balsamic vinegar, optional
Assemble the sandwiches with 2 slices of Haloumi, 2 or 3 tomato slices, a handful of fresh basil and a splash of balsamic vinegar per sandwich. Cut each in half and serve as whole or half sandwiches.
Makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen
Created for a 2007 TMS column about cooking with fall mushrooms, this recipe ends up on my fantasy menu for its wonderful crowd-pleasing abilities. Sort of like our 44th president, eh?
2 sheets of frozen puff pastry, cut into 2-½-inch circles
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
20 ounces cremini or white button, cleaned and trimmed
1-½ shallots, minced
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon water
1 egg, beaten
1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
Several sprigs of fresh parsley, minced
Thaw frozen puff pastry sheets.
Preheat the oven to the temperature recommended by puff pastry manufacturer.
Melt the butter in a large frying or sauté pan. Add the mushrooms and sauté over medium heat until slightly softened. Add the shallots, salt and pepper and continue cooking over medium until mushrooms are soft. Remove pan from heat.
Using a 2-½-inch pastry cutter, cut out approximately 30 circles. Half will be used as the bottoms of the mushroom puffs. The other half will serve as the tops. Place the bottoms on ungreased baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart.
Add one tablespoon of water to the beaten egg and set aside.
Place one tablespoon of the mushroom filling on the center of each circle. Sprinkle Gruyere cheese and parsley over the mushrooms.
Taking one of the puff’s tops, apply the egg wash to the edges then place the moistened side on top of the mushrooms and press down on the edges to seal the puff. Repeat until all the puffs are assembled.
Bake in the oven for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, until puffs have risen and turned golden brown. For best results, serve immediately.
Hot and smooth, this drink undoubtedly has its own, legitimate name. However, as I couldn’t easily find it in my copy of “The Bartender’s Black Book,” for now it’s my cornily named inauguration drink.
12 ounces skim milk
12 ounces Bailey’s Irish Cream
8 ounces Kahlua
dark chocolate, grated for optional garnish
fresh nutmeg, grated for optional garnish
In a medium-sized saucepan heat the milk on medium heat. Take the pan off the heat, pour in the Bailey’s and Kahlua, stir and pour into small juice or stemless wine glasses. Depending on how generous you are when pouring, you may have more or less than 8 glasses of this drink.
Using a fine grater, grate the chocolate or nutmeg over the top of the drinks and serve.