Sunday, May 04, 2008

House party redux

Another house party last night. This time, I asked people to bring cheese & wine or acoutrements that would go with them, like bread or fruit or olives. Everyone came through. Laurea and David brought some yummy cheeses, pictured above. Left to right, asiago fresco (picked this up at Whole Foods), muenster and raw goat's milk cheese from Bedford Cheese Shop (L&D's contribution) and smoked jarlsberg from Mike. I also made baked brie...

Preheat the oven to 400. Take a wheel of brie and cut it in half crosswise with a warm knife. On the bottom layer, add slivered, blanched almonds and chopped tried cherries. Top with brown sugar, then the top half. Press down to seal it. Wrap it in puff pastry. Cut a circle of puff pastry and place it on top of the "package" so that the top doesn't look a mess, then bake for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 325 and bake for 20 more minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. This is a great appetizer and can be made ahead of time. Just put it in the freezer until the day you want to use it, then defrost it before baking.

This is a spring salad recipe that I found online. It called for petit pois and asparagus but I decided to add edamame, which made it heartier. You can find shelled edamame in your grocery's freezer section. I also bought the petit pois frozen, to save on time. Here's how you make it:
1 bag (16oz) each of frozen petit pois and edamame
2 bunches asparagus, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
Blanch these and set aside. For the dressing, gather some herbs. I used basil, parsley and dill. Quarter 2 shallots and peel two cloves of garlic. Zest and juice a lemon. Combine these ingredients in a food processor or blender until the herbs are coarsely chopped. Slowly add extra virgin olive oil, blending until the dressing is emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste. Over low heat, slowly warm the dressing - you don't want to overcook it, you just want to take the bite off the shallots and garlic. Toss with the vegetables and serve warm or at room temp.

I also made lime bars, roast chicken with white wine-herb-cream sauce, and pasta with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella for our vegetarian guests. For appetizers, I assembled watermelon, mint and prosciutto di Parma into bite-sized pieces and secured them with toothpicks. Surprisingly, I was able to find some pretty sweet watermelon at this time of year.

I think all the food turned out pretty good - the salad went fast and we hardly have any left over. I do have chicken left, which will be good for adding to salads and pasta. No lime bars left but we do have a delicious mango cake from Fay Da Bakery that Laura brought.

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