By Susan Lane of Susan A. Lane Events
September always motivates me to get back into the kitchen. Summer time beckons us outside the house mainly to the grill. It’s too hot to cook in the kitchen. But with the cooler nights upon us, I am drawn to some cooler weather fare. I thought I would focus on cocktail party fare since many of you will most likely start entertaining again since the kids are back in school and some holidays are right around the corner.
My mantra for cocktail parties is K.I.S.S. – “Keep it simple stupid!”.
Make one amazing thing and surround it with simple, easily composed items. Serve some red or white wine and a couple of different beers to suit your crowd. Aligash (a beer from Maine) is a fabulous Belgian white beer that I have become a huge fan of.
Also, at Trader Joe’s, there’s a fabulous Proseco (label is just a huge letter “P”) for $7 or $8 a bottle. Serve with a touch of Elderflower liqueur. Yummy!
Try One Of These Amazing Things:
Crab & Brie Quesadilla
24- 2” diameter rounds of flour tortillas
8 oz double cream brie
1 lemon worth of lemon zest
1 tsp chives
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
8 oz fresh lump crab meat
3 tbsp softened unsalted butter
Small container of sour cream
1 avocado, cut into small wedges (squeeze lemon juice over wedges & keep covered to prevent from browning).
Smear ¼ oz. brie on each tortilla round. Toss crab, lemon zest, chives and black pepper together. Place ¼ oz. of crab mix onto 12 of the tortilla rounds and top with remaining tortilla rounds (like sandwiches).
Melt 1 tbsp. butter in sauté pan and fry tortilla sandwiches (in batches of 4) on both sides till golden brown. Set each batch aside on paper towel till done frying all of them.
Garnish with dollop of sour cream and small wedge of avocado.
Pan-fried Corn Cakes with Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche
Roasted Corn Cakes
3 cups (about 12 ears) fresh corn kernels- just shucked
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. salt
1/2 t. white pepper
1/2 T. baking powder
1/2 T. sugar
1.5 Tbsp. chives or parsley
Small side smoked salmon
Mix together corn kernels, sour cream and eggs. Add dry ingredients to mixture- flour, s & p, baking powder, and sugar. Mix in chives. Heat non-stick pan over med-hi heat. Gently pour in just enough oil to cover bottom of pan. Pour batter in pastry bag with no tip. Pipe batter into pan in 1/2 dollar size portions. Fry until golden brown. Flip over. Do same to second side. Remove from pan. Put small dollop of crème fraîche on corn cake. Follow with small piece of smoked salmon.
¾ c. sour cream
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 T. Salt
1/2 T. pepper
1/8 c. heavy cream
Optional ingredients- freshly chopped dill; finely chopped shallots
Mix together all ingredients in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temp for minimum of 2 hours. Can leave out overnite if room is not to warm. Chill.
Crispy Polenta Triangles with Sautéed Wild Mushrooms, Truffle Oil, and Asiago Cheese
1 ounce dried wild mushrooms (porcini, shiitake)- soaked in hot water for 30 minutes. Strain thru cheese cloth and reserve liquid for recipe. Slice mushrooms.
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
pinch red pepper flakes
1 T. fresh sage, chopped or 1 t. dried
1 12 oz. box white mushrooms,(Chanterelles if you can afford them) cleaned with dry towel and sliced thin
1 cup drained, chopped canned tomatoes-imported whole
1/2 c. red wine
2 T. chopped parsley
salt and pepper
¼ lb – 1/2 lb. Asiago cheese- grated
Truffle oil- optional
Cook onion in 1-2 T. olive oil till tender. Stir in re-hydrated mushrooms, garlic, red pepper flakes and sage. Add fresh mushrooms. Turn up heat to medium high. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Stir in tomato, wine, some reserved mushroom liquid, parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce to simmer-10-15 minutes or until sauce is thickened.
2 c. corn meal
7 c. water
1 T. salt
Turn broiler on.
Line large baking dish with saran wrap.
Add salt to pan of boiling water. Slowly stir in corn meal. Cook, stirring to avoid lumping, about 30 minutes or when it begins to pull away from sides of pan. Be careful not to overcook. Pour into baking dish. Cover with more saran wrap. Refrigerate.
Turn polenta out onto cutting board and slice into triangles.
Arrange slices in one layer on a lightly oiled shallow baking pan and brush slices with additional oil.
Broil polenta about 3 inches from heat until edges are golden, about 5 minutes. Turn polenta over and broil until edges are golden, about 3 minutes more.
Top triangles with grated Asiago cheese and broil briefly. Then top the polenta with about 1 T. mushroom mixture. Broil briefly to warm mushrooms and finish with a drizzle of truffle oil (optional). Garnish platter with sprigs of fresh sage.
Try some of these Simple, Easily Composed Items:
Potato Chips served with a bowl of sour cream or crème frâiche and a bowl on ice of inexpensive whitefish caviar or smoked salmon or BOTH!
Goat Cheese topped with Pink Peppercorns, crushed garlic, EVOO, fresh ground pepper and kosher salt; served with Rice Crackers
Tiny Soup Sips- buy some favorite soup and place in tiny clear votives and serve!
Shrimp Cocktail from Captain Marden’s in Wellesley
Antipasti with store bought olives, roasted red peppers, goat cheese, tiny bocconcini, slices of soppressata, baguette slices.
Bacon wrapped Dates- put under broiler and wow!
Pecorino, Honey and Arugula Crostini
Cut a baguette into 1/2-inch slices. Drizzle each slice with honey, top with a slice of pecorino romano, and drizzle with more honey. Put under the broiler for a couple of minutes, until cheese starts to brown. Arrange on a serving dish and top with fresh arugula.
Edamame with Kosher salt
Spicy Tuna Maki from a favorite Sushi restaurant
Serrano Ham over fresh Melon Slices