January 5, 2008

New Year's Eve!

We had a very fun New Year's Eve soiree last week complete with massive quantities of food and drink. Which no one ate. Oh, everyone drank, though. I know this much because of the dance party that ensued until 3:30 am.

Anyway, I am quite confident that the food was not the problem because everything was delicious. We started the party at 9 pm, which is a little late for eating a huge plate of hors d'oeuvres. I didn't even eat as much as I thought I would. Anyway, we gave away some leftovers and have been feasting on the rest ourselves. I'm actually quite proud of all the homemade goodness I put out and I would replicate this spread in the future whenever possible. I never get tired of looking for appetizer recipes, so if you have favorites of your own, please pass them my way!!

The Menu...
Mediterranean Layer Dip served w/pita

Mushroom Croustades

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip w/crudite

Various Cheeses w/baguettes, crackers, etc.

Spiral Sliced Glazed Ham, served w/dijon mustard and cornichons

Sliced Fresh Pineapple

Peppermint White Chocolate Chip Brownies

Store-bought supplements:


Chex Mix

Sweet Potato Chips

So, yeah, I guess that's a lot. Well, we live and we learn. Abundance should be our middle name. I don't feel at all bashful admitting that I loved everything I made. It may seem an odd assortment, but I love that feeling of not knowing where to start!

I added the pineapple last minute and it was devoured. The cheeses were brought by our good friends who scored some amazing finds from the Cowgirl Creamery that just opened downtown. We had an incredible aged cheddar that was really flavorful, salty, dry and almost crumbly, a great blue and a triple creme brie named fleur de lis. My personal favorite hors d'oeuvre were the Mushroom Croustades. Another amazing Junior League cookbook recipe! These were seriously good. You'll feel like a professional caterer when you pull these out. I'll save the recipe for another day since I also have to get this yummy dip on the page.
Mediterranean Layer Dip
Essentially hummus topped with olive tapenade and a fresh tomato/cucumber/mint salad. Refreshing and light but deep in flavor and easy to prepare. Of course, buying the hummus is a time-saver.

Hummus, recipe to follow

Olive Tapenade, recipe to follow

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1/2 seedless cucumber, diced

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp olive oil

2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint

2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

4-5 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup diced feta cheese, or chevre

pita bread

Prepare hummus and olive tapenade up to 3 days in advance. Refrigerate until needed.

Combine tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, lemon juice, and olive oil in a mixing bowl with salt and pepper to taste. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature. Drain off the excess liquid.

Begin assembly by choosing a beautiful platter. I think a cake stand would look elegant or just a large white plate would work. Spread all of the hummus down on the platter. Top this with the olive tapenade, leaving about an inch border of hummus showing. Next, spoon the tomato salad mixture evenly over the tapenade. Sprinkle with feta, green onions and additional black olives, if desired. Sprinkle extra parsley over the top and around the platter. Serve with pita bread. Soften bread by wrapping in foil and placing in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3 cloves garlic

1/2 cup tahini

6-8 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp ground cumin

3 Tbsp olive oil

couple dashes hot sauce

This recipe is to taste. I don't have a large food processor, so I did this in 2 batches. Start by chopping the garlic alone in the processor. Add the chickpeas and other ingredients and puree until smooth. Add more lemon juice and/or spices, if desired. I added a few tbsps of water to help the consistency, but you can add oil instead. Taste and season...taste and season...
Makes about 3 cups.

Olive Tapenade
1/2 cup kalamata olives

1/2 cup green olives stuffed w/pimento

1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers, sliced
2 Tbsp fresh basil, torn

1 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped (dried is ok)
1 Tbsp capers, drained
1 Tbsp olive oil
ground black pepper

Pulse the herbs together in the food processor until chopped. Add the other ingredients. Pulse until finely chopped, but not pureed. Makes about 1 cup.

Okay, okay, stop twisting my arm. Here's one more freebie. The easiest dessert that I pulled out of nowhere and everyone complimented me on...the brownies!!! Don't worry, they are very subtly flavored with peppermint...think candy-cane.

I box brownie mix (for 8x8 pan)
1/2 pkg white chocolate chips
1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Stir in white chocolate chips and mint extract. Bake according to directions. Slice, serve and get ready for rave reviews. Note how the mint sprig garnish signals the mint in the brownies...oh la la! =)