One of the most fun parts of party planning (for me, at least), is planning the menu. What to serve? Fancy? Basic? Old favorites? New finds? And what to put it all on? You should see the lists I go through the week before a party. Savories, sweets and drinks in 3 sections of column A. Column B is the schedule- anything that can be made ahead and stored in the fridge will be. And you must make sure all the things to be baked the day of fit in the oven! Column C is plating. I have a thing for serving dishes, fortunately it's under control now, but back in the days of my 400sq ft condo and galley kitchen, it could get a little crazy.
For our recent party, I made a nice mix of old favorites and new finds. I had a mix of make-ahead dishes and freshly-baked deliciousness. What I did not have was a large amount of desserts- merely 4 kinds of sweets (sugar cookies, white chocolate chip ginger cookies (these are SO much better with white chocolate chips instead of dark/semisweet), crack brownies (caramel in the middle!) and jam bars), but what was out was hardly touched anyway. Nearly 2 weeks later, we're still eating sugar cookies, and I just finished off the crack brownies yesterday.
I don't have any pictures, but I can guarantee all of the following recipes is delicious!
The Make-Ahead Group
Onion Dip (quarter one medium onion (experiment with different kinds) and toss it in a food processor. Process until it's pureed, then add one 8oz block of low fat cream cheese, 1t of an herb blend (I like Penzey's Mural of Flavor, thanks to mom for recommending it!) and salt and pepper to taste. Process until smooth. ***let sit in refrigerator at least one day before serving*** (because this is raw onion we're talking about!) Serve with chips (I really like the Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato chips with this) or fresh veggies.
Fruit Compote- great with cheese!
Brie En Croute- an old staple, this appears at nearly every single party I'm involved with. Make ahead, wrap in foil/plastic wrap, and chill or freeze until it's time to bake.
The Freshly-Prepared Group
Roasted bacon-wrapped herbed chevre-stuffed pears- chevre, bacon. Could it get any better? I made half with bacon and half without. These are incredibly simple yet so delicious and elegant. They reheat beautifully! I used regular old d'Anjou pears.
Prosciutto-wrapped melon and fennel- it's exactly how it sounds. Prosciutto wrapped around spears of melon and/or fennel. I roasted the fennel at 400F for about 15 minutes before wrapping.
Other dishes on our table:
cheese platter (manchego, smoked gouda, chevre, sharp cheddar, bovine chevre, boursin)
maple-cider brined turkey breast (from Cooking Light, November 2011, but this link doesn't have the correct recipe- there should be maple syrup in the brine, not sugar)
This party was the debut of the bacon-wrapped chevre-stuffed pears and the onion dip (cousin Rich's recipe), but you can be sure they'll appear again. Actually the pears might not even wait til a party, I might have them for dinner some random weekday night.