VIEWS: 5 PAGES: 3 POSTED ON: 5/30/2010
Easy, Elegant Entertaining Solutions (E3) Nancy Krabill, Flavors From Afar Hi Carol – Well, that dish you just cooked looks absolutely yummy and really fits in well with what we do at Flavors From Afar – “Easy, Elegant, Entertaining” (or E3, meaning lots of energy!). Today I‟ve brought over a few of our “greatest hits” and we‟ll talk a little bit about taste and presentation. You know, just a few extra touches can make a yummy dish that might not be visually exciting turn into a little “eye candy” that will attract and entertain your guests. Let‟s see how. First, the main ingredient for the easy part of elegant entertaining is finding some products you love that someone else has taken the time to cook and prepare. How many times do you find yourself saying even when you shop for clothes “I could make that myself” but you don‟t and instead end up with nothing. Same thing when shopping for food – even if you really can make the best pesto or pasta sauce using a recipe that you love, if instead of doing that, you end up ordering pizza every night you‟re missing out on the experience and wasting a lot of money. By buying some really special things and doing what we call a little assembly, you bring your own personality into play and are able to present really finer, unusual dishes to your guests. I‟m going to demonstrate how to make three really easy appetizers, and one sweet finish, along with some wine pairing along the way. The French have a great word for this: “amuse bouche”, or amuse your mouth. These appetizers would be great surrounding your meal, or can stand alone for a quick cocktail party. First, our favorite: Artichoke-Lemon Pesto. This stuff is great right out of the jar, or you can use the recipe on the bottom of the jar to make a hot dip with mayonnaise and Parmesan. We‟re going to put this in our favorite pastry party cups, which you‟re going to see again soon, because these cups can take on sweet or savory innards. Now – Here‟s the pesto in the cups – I already know the flavor will be great but what do you think Carol – it looks a little bland. Here‟s how we fix this. We eat with our eyes – at least to start with. We insert a little basil leaf for color, and at an angle for more visual interest. Voila – which would you pick off the buffet tray? Now, for a wine pairing. Do you like Mimosas? Well, we‟ve brought down the Italian version – Bellinis – to try today. Instead of oranges we use white peaches, and instead of Champagne, Prosecco. Our mix comes in this little can by way of the Cipriani family in Venice – the Harry‟s Bar people that made Bellinis famous. Here we pop the top and pour a little to taste into this Prosecco. You know, you could go to Italy, pick the finest white peaches, and make your own but….. I‟ve chosen this to pair with the artichoke appetizer because it‟s light and sparkly to punch through the savory artichoke taste, with a little sweet for a counter. Moving on to our second appetizer, we‟re going to try a little Walnut-Sage pesto with Parma Ham and shaved Parmesan cheese on a baguette. Let‟s think about the visual aspect again. What colors are these ingredients? That‟s right, yellow, brown, boring….we know the taste is fabulous but what do we do to brighten this up? Instead of color this time we‟re going to add interest using texture and angles. The flaky texture of the shaved Parmesan adds interest to the crumbly pesto, and by placing the Parmesan at an agle, the Parma ham sort of peeks out and flirts with you a little bit. You notice that chefs are using this technique more and more; no more dividing the plate into 1/3‟s but instead layering and building height and volume for presentation. Now, the wine. We‟ll try a Pinot Noir. It‟s light and versatile, and the spicy notes will draw out the deeper undertones of ham, pesto, and cheese. But we‟re going to punch up the taste of this inexpensive red wine with a new trick called the Wine Clip. What this does is use magnets to break down the tannin molecules in red wine as it flows past the clip on the neck of the wine bottle, so that your palate can taste more of the fruits and flowers in the wine. Let‟s try a before and after test and see what you think. …… Now tannins aren‟t necessarily a bad thing in wine – in a perfectly balanced, aged wine the tannins and the other flavors complement and interact with each other. But in a less expensive, young wine, the tannins can get a little out of hand and by using this tool, you can turn a $10 bottle of wine into a $50 bottle. Can you tell the difference? Moving on – here‟s an appetizer that we got from our friends “The Copper Spices” that you can make up to 6 hours ahead. We use a little smoked trout that you can buy locally, or if you‟re really ambitious you can smoke at home using our Smoker bags that go right in the oven. For our color and flavor accent, we‟ve mixed a little herbed goat cheese with some cream cheese, added fresh dill, green onions, garlic, lemon zest, along with our seasoning mix for fish. We just combine the cheeses, dill, scallions and lemon zest in a bowl and mix well. Then we season with seafood seasoning, salt and pepper. At this point you can cover and chill the mixture up to 2 days ahead. (I made this yesterday, for example). When you‟re ready to assemble (there‟s that key word again), bring the mixture to room temperature. We‟re going to use a ziplock bag to decorate this appetizer. This is easy. Just place the cheese mixture in a ziplock bag and cut a small opening in one end. We‟ve separated the endive into leaves and broken the trout into small pieces. Now we‟ll pipe a small amount of the cheese mixture onto the base end of each leaf. Next, we‟ll top with a piece of trout and a small dill sprig. Finally, let‟s arrange the filled endive leaves on a platter and serve. (You may assemble up to 6 hours before serving.) Cover and chill, then when you‟re ready, sashay out with a plateful and amaze your guests. Finally, sweets for the sweet. Our new friend the pastry party cup is back in the game - now paired with our Lemony Butter Jam – sort of like a lemon curd. We fill the cup, then add a little whipped cream for height and texture, and away we go. So that„s the scoop! By having some of your favorite things on the shelf and at hand, you can do more than salsa and chips next time an impromptu group gathers at your doorstep. Carol, if your viewers would like to have a copy of our recipes and other easy, elegant entertaining ideas, they can just order our free brochure by calling 214.696.2327 or going on our website at www.flavorsfromafar.com and sending us an email. Carol, it was great seeing you today and now let‟s see how these appetizers and dessert taste with that wonderful chicken!
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