Friday, November 6, 2009

Entertaining for some Ladies

I've always been a 'guy's gal' but sometimes, and especially when the husband goes out of town leaving me all alone, it's nice to have a gathering with just a bunch of chicks. Bonus for me: i get to make up and cook a bunch of yummy appetizers, my favorite things to cook.
I like to entertain with mostly vegetarian fare, with maybe a decadent omnivorous item here and there. Tonight is such a night.
All but the pineapples are strictly made up by me, the pineapples have been adapted from a higher sugared recipe.

The garden is teaming with peppers and basil, but since i usually make stuffed peppers for barbecue type shin digs, i thought i'd go a little fancier tonight. Here's the menu:
  • Spicy Hummus with Yellow Cayenne -served with garlic rubbed pita and carrot sticks
  • assorted olives and yummy cheese (purchased as is from store, and the cheese is NOT as good as my homemade mozz, by the way)
  • Jumbo Garlic Shrimp
  • Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus (i know, it's not in season, deal with it)
  • Pesto Balsamic Dip
The Recipes:
Spicy Hummus
  • 2 cans garbanzos, or two cups dried
  • 1 yellow (or red) fresh cayenne pepper (could use any fresh hot pepper)
  • 4 frozen ice cubes meyer lemon juice, thawed
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • salt and pepper
  • curry powder, chille powder, or any other spice to taste if desired. optional.
I got this tip on how to make creamier Hummus from my friend, Foy but sadly could not find dried garbanzos at my store. So i simply dumped the garbanzos plus a little liquid, i would suggest half to 3/4 cup, with 1 teaspoon of baking soda, brought to a boil and simmered about 30 minutes. I think it might be better at 40 minutes. After simmered allow to cool if you're using a blender, or go right at it if using an immersion blender. Add the other ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve warm, or refrigerate. Serve with a sprinkle of paprika and drizzle of olive oil on top if you feel really fancy. You can also put tahini or olive oil in your hummus when blending, i prefer oil free hummus.

For the pita, just rub a broken garlic clove all over the bread and heat til warm in a cool oven. (not pictured)

Garlic Shrimp
  • Package frozen jumbo shrimp (try and find wild, i'm poor and bought farmed) You could also cook them from scratch as raw shrimp, but this was a nice easy fast way.
  • 1 big garlic clove
  • drizzle olive oil
  • salt, pepper, oregano
Finely dice the garlic and add to a saute pan with a little olive oil - enough for the garlic to play around in, but not enough to pool substantially. I'd say about a tablespoon+. Simmer the garlic in the oil until it's foamy but not long enough to burn. In the meantime spread thawed shrimp on a platter and sprinkle with seasonings, then add to med/hot garlicy foamy pan and toss about in the garlic oil about 3 minutes or so. They'll be warmed up, but you don't want to cook them much further than they already are. Remove from pan and put in a glass bowl to marinate in the yum garlic liquid and place in fridge, toss occasionally to spread the yum around. Once cool, serve on a bed of fresh basil leaves: oh so elegant.

I believe it was this dish that when tasted by Casey inspired the exclamation of "yum, wow, that's amazing!" something like that. :)

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus
  • Asparagus, trimmed
  • Prosciutto
I microwaved the trimmed asparagus for about 2 minutes to help encourage them to cook quickly.
Wrap the meat around the veg and spread on a baking sheet. You can also do a few sans-meat on the same sheet, though they won't be 'strictly' vegetarian. I heated the toaster oven to 375 on the convection setting with a TINY bit of water in the pan, just a bit. Enough to steam the aspagrass a little, but enough not water to crisp the prosciutto. Cook until the asparagus are bright green and wilting, and the meat is crispy. You may want to turn a few times. I cooked mine about 10 minutes at the most.

I'm serving this and the shrimp with a pesto, balsamic dip. I'm simply thawing out some pesto ice cubes, adding balsamic, and a little more oil. voila.

Spiced Pineapple
(not pictured, i forgot, sorry)
  • 2 cans pineapple chunks in their own juices
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
Empty one can pineapple into pan with juice, drain the other can and only add pineapple chunks. Add other ingredients and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simply turn off the heat at this point and allow to cool. Transfer cooled pineapple with juice into a bowl and marinate at least over night. Makes a really nice, Christmasy tasting spicy, tangy fruit dish. Transfer to a serving bowl with a straining spoon, leaving the juice behind. Keep the juice for a tasty, spicy beverage. Serve with little forks, toothpicks, or your fingers.

The olives I served on a cute little bamboo platter my sister gave me, along with a little cup for discarded pits. Always serve olives that still have their pits with such a little dish or you'll end up with shy guests sticking olive pits in your potted plants and under the couch cushions.

I believe the food of the evening was a great success - Sadly i have very few woman friends, so I am intensely full this morning after eating MORE than my share of shrimp and prosciutto. Next project: flavoring and bottling some finished Kombucha Tea. We sampled the KT last night and all agreed it was quite tasty.

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Thank you so much for your feedback, especially if you've cooked one of my recipes or tried one of my tips: let me know how it turned out!