Monday, September 15, 2008

Casual Cocktails

I have invited my boss and friend Steve over a million times but he is a jet setter and never in town. Well, he finally got some time to stop by my place and see what a life made my me was all about! :)

We originally planned to have dinner at my place on Saturday...but Steve couldn't make it so he asked if we could switch to Friday, after work...[PANIC SETS IN...WHAT DO I MAKE, DO I HAVE ENOUGH TIME???} I quickly decide to chill and accept, of course I can do this...just have to think on my feet. So what do I do with an hour to shop at lunch and 2 hours prep time after work? I planned some little bites, all but one I have never done before, but I think they all turned out ok!

At 8pm, Steve and Gina arrived:


I also invited Lon and Kelly. Kelly had a prior engagement, so here is Lon enjoying a Tequila!

Here are some of the dishes I prepped for the evening. My first was Roasted Figs wrapped in prosciutto.

I first sliced fresh Mission Figs in half and coated them with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and about 1/4 cup brown sugar and roasted them in the oven for 20 minutes.

In the mean time, I cut slices of prosciutto lenghwise to make 2 thin strips. I put a smear of cream cheese in the center of each slice:

Once the figs were cool, I placed a fig in each, rolled them up and secured with a toothpick:

My second dish: Shrimp Fra Diavolo Shooters.

I took a little help from the awesome Whole Foods store that just opened and picked up a great seafood soup as the base of my shooters...but first I had to make the shrimp:

I marinated 12 large shrimp in 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic finely minced, fresh grouned black pepper, 1/2 tsp. chile flakes and lemon zest for about an hour.

Then I sauteed them in a very hot pan.

Cook the shrimp for about 2 minutes per side...or they will get tough. Don't overcook them!

I have this awesome shot glass set that I got as a wedding gift. I usually do dessert shooters in them...but today, they would be shrimp shooters.

I poured the chilled soup into each shot glass, topped each with a cooked shrimp and served over ice.

I also made Stuffed Mushrooms.

These are really easy, and my old high school friend, Melaine asked me for the I decided to make them tonight so I could document for her.

I started out with a container of large, cleaned mushroom and removed the stems.

I then took about 1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms and finely diced them. I sauteed them in olive oil over high heat until they were soft, about 15 minutes. I took the pan off the heat to cool.

I mixed the cooled mushrooms with Alouette Cheese, diced roasted red peppers and filled each cap with some of the mixture.

Stuffed Mushrooms
I topped each cap with parmesan cheese and baked them on a cookie sheet on 400 for 8-10 minutes.

My last dish were POLENTA BITES with Caramelized Mushrooms. I saw this recipe on Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello and had to try it.


For the polenta:
3 cups heavy cream
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt, preferably gray salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup polenta
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
For the mushrooms:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound button or cremini mushrooms, cut into quarters
Finely ground salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup Marsala Wine
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley leaves

Cook the polenta: In a medium, heavy pot over high heat bring the cream, stock, salt, and nutmeg to a boil. Add the polenta gradually, whisking constantly. When the mixture thickens, switch to a wooden spoon and adjust the heat to maintain a bare simmer. Cook, stirring often, until thick, smooth, and creamy, about 15 minutes. Add the Parmesan and stir. Keep the polenta warm over low heat, stirring occasionally. If the polenta gets dry as it sits, stir in about 1/4 cup of warm stock or cream.
Saute the mushrooms: In a medium skillet over high heat, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, sprinkle in the mushrooms in a single layer. Don't stir them! Let them sizzle until they have caramelized on the bottom, about 2 minutes. When the bottoms are caramelized, toss them once and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Continue to cook without stirring for about 5 minutes. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper. Add the butter and cook until it begins to brown, then add the garlic. Continue to cook until the garlic begins to brown. Add the thyme and cook for about 10 seconds. Add the lemon juice and cook until the liquid evaporates. Add the wine, and simmer until the mushrooms are glazed with the sauce. Add the parsley. Then stir and remove the pan from the heat.

Place or pipe about 1 tablespoon of warm polenta onto a spoon. Place about 1/2 teaspoon of the mushroom on top of the polenta. Garnish with grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.

These were really good! I served them on these little amuse bouche spoons I got at Crate and Barrel. I have had them forever waiting for the right time and recipe.


All in all, I didn't have much time, but I was able to come up with some tasty treats. I am really glad Steve and Gina (and you too, Lon) finally got to hang out!


Hage Family said...

Will you marry me????

Claudine said...

Awesome job Marcie!!!! It all looks fantastic!!! I would love one of those figs please.....

Jennifer said...

Man oh man, Heath and Dena re so lucky to live next door to you--ha

Live.Love.Eat said...

Hey there! I came over from Jennifer Another Online Mom. She was right, I LOVE your blog and your cooking style, everything!! I can't wait to peek around more!!!!!