Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Party Bites

Infused liquors (and photo) by Bess
I finally finished cleaning up from the holiday party we threw last weekend. It's not that it was overly crazy, or messy, just that we were lazy and/or busy for the next several days.

As usual, I overdid it with the food spread a little. That's just how I roll, and everyone knows it. The menu I planned was larger than the menu I served. Also, the usual case. Start at 8:30am - 5pm rolls around, and I start to think "oh shit, it's getting late!" And then there's the opposite thought of "oh shit, this is more than enough food" - and I'm only 3/4 through my plan. Just wrap it up, no one will miss what they never knew to expect.

Here are the 12 dishes I served for 20 people - in order by popularity:

1. Fruit Guacamole with Tortilla Chips
Winner. "What's that crunchy stuff in the guacamole? It's good!"
-Kristine T

The idea of putting fruit in the guacamole to give it a special twist came from this cool restaurant in Manhattan called Toloache. I've been there a couple times for restaurant week or birthdays, and we always get this guacamole with seasonal fruit that everyone at the table devours as soon as it comes. I happened to find the recipe at Wine Enthusiast, which made it easy to recreate - except it's kind of easy to figure out on your own!

Fruit Guacamole
3 Haas Avocados, very ripe (an even dark-green color and gives just slightly to pressure)
1/4 C lime juice (about 3 limes)
1 jalepeño, finely diced
1 mango, 1/2" diced
1 C green Grannysmith apple, 1/4" diced (no peeling necessary)
*Strawberries or peaches work too, but I didn't use them
Salt & Pepper
2 T Cilantro, chopped

 Slice avocados in half lengthwise around pit. Twist apart and remove pit - I personally dislike the "hack the pit with a knife and twist it out" method, because of several close calls with the blade. A teaspoon or pushing it out from the back works too.

Halve the Mango by cutting each long, flat, side clean off the pit, which is usually about 3/4" wide at the center. Using a paring knife, cut the peel off the remaining 3/4" and cut the flesh off from the pit. For the halves, score them like a checker board just to the skin. Flip the half inside-out, into a "porcupine" of mango spikes, and remove pieces with a spoon or pairing knife. 

For the apple, cut two large halves off the core - again about 1/2"-3/4" wide. Cut off the short sides. Lay skin-side up, and cut each into thin long slices, and then across to create a quick pile of diced apple.

Slice the jalepeño in half lenghtwise.  Removing the seeds is a good idea for a party with various spice-tolerances. Rinsing the halves under cold water helps too. Cut into strips and then across to dice.

Rinse cilantro very very well, as it can be sandy. Roughly chop stem and leaves together.

Fresh lime juice is best. Roll the limes on a hard surface with pressure from your hand, to get the juices loose. You can squeeze directly into the guac to taste, or into a bowl to be more precise. Twisting the half around a fork helps get the juice out.

Put it together:
Spoon out the flesh of the avocado and mash it with a fork. Better yet: a potato masher. When smooth, add the remaining ingredients, stir and serve. Cover with plastic wrap if made ahead, with wrap touching the surface of the dip so there is no air.

2. Burrata & Tomatoes on Toast
"I didn't think I would like a creamy mushy cheese, but this is good!"
-Kristen K

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