weeknight gourmet

Cocktail Party for 10!

As many of you know, Tim and I started an online advertising company a couple of years ago.  It’s been quite an adventure!  We’ve been lucky enough to assemble a great team.  On Monday night, we had a party at our apartment for the AdBuyer.com team in honor of a big product release.

I didn’t have a ton of time to prepare.  I shopped on Sunday but wasn’t able to start preparing until 4:30pm on Monday (party was at 7:30pm).  I decided a blend of homemade, easily assembled, and store-bought food would work best.  Plus, I needed to make sure there were some vegetarian options for one of our guests.

Italian meats & cheeses
I assembled a platter of Italian meats (proscuitto, sopressata and salami), chunks of aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, and olives.  I also made little skewers of grape tomatoes, basil, and marinated bocconcini.

Sliced chorizo
I sliced chorizo and heated it in a frying pan.  I served it on a platter with some toothpicks.  People loved this!

Cucumber sandwiches
I thinly sliced an English cucumber and I mixed whipped cream cheese with chives.  I spread the cream cheese mixture on pumpernickel cocktail bread and layered on a few cucumber slices.  I topped the sandwiches with another slice of bread and cut into triangles.

Smoked salmon toasts
I bought some beautiful smoked salmon at the Lobster Place and made little smoked salmon toasts.  I took cocktail pumpernickel bread, layered on a couple of cucumber slices, some smoked salmon, a touch of creme fraiche, and a few capers.  I sliced the toasts into triangles.

Hummus in endive
I put spoonfuls of hummus in endive leaves and sprinkled a touch of paprika.

Crab salad in endive
I made a simple crab salad that I put in endive leaves.  I actually didn’t love the outcome but below is a recipe for a Thai crab salad that I’ve made before and is really tasty.

Grilled shrimp with pesto
After tossing some peeled and deveined shrimp with olive oil and salt and pepper, I cooked the shrimp on my grill pan.  I served the grilled shrimp with store-bought pesto as a dipping sauce.

Chicken satays
This was the one truly homemade dish.  I followed the Barefoot Contessa recipe below and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Sushi platter
This was totally store-bought.  I ordered a sushi platter from the Lobster Place.  I had some vegetarian sushi included (avocado and cucumber rolls) for our non-meat eating guest.  The sushi was delivered on a plastic tray but I rearranged it on a black lacquer platter I have to make it look a little less store-bought

Dessert tray
I took two cake plates and filled then with mini vanilla cupcakes from Whole Foods and dark chocolate-covered pretzels.  I also had a few dishes with dark chocolate-covered brandied cherries (YUM!).

Overall I think everyone had a nice time and we were happy to do something for the team!

Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers with Satay Dip
Barefoot Contessa

  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
  • 3/4 cup good olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, halved and skin removed
  • Satay Dip, recipe follows

Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. Pour over the chicken breasts in a nonreactive bowl. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.

Heat a charcoal grill. Grill the chicken breasts for 10 minutes on each side, until just cooked through. Cool slightly and cut diagonally in 1/2-inch-thick slices. Skewer with wooden sticks and serve with Satay Dip.

Satay Dip

  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 2/3 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Cook the olive oil, sesame oil, red onion, garlic, ginger root, and red pepper flakes in a small, heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat until the onion is transparent, 10 to 15 minutes. Whisk in the vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, peanut butter, ketchup, sherry, and lime juice; cook for 1 more minute. Cool and use as a dip for Grilled Lemon Chicken skewers.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

***

THAI CRABMEAT DIP
“Terrific Pacific” by Anya Von Bremzen and John Welchman
Serves 6

  • 1 Serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon very finely sliced fresh lemongrass (3 inches of the lower stalk, tough outer leaves discarded)
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce, such as nam pla
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 cups lump crabmeat, preferably Alaskan, picked over
  • 3 tablespoons slivered fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons torn fresh cilantro leaves
  • 4 tablespoons canned unsweetened coconut milk, well stirred
  • 3 medium heads Belgian endive

In a large bowl combine the chile, garlic, lemongrass, lemon zest, fish sauce, lime juice, and salt. Add the crabmeat, basil, cilantro, and coconut milk and toss gently to combine.

Separate the endive into spears. Fill with the crab mixture and serve.

 

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