Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Foodie mamas--are you out there?

We're having a cocktail party on Saturday, and I'm so very pleased to be resuming this mostly-annual tradition of ours after skipping it last year. Husband and I just couldn't seem to get it together with an 8-month old baby to concern ourselves with. This year, though, we're seasoned parenting pros and we've got more space in our new place, too, to fit even more friends and neighbors. I'm really looking forward to it, even though I have no idea what I'll be wearing.

More than that, though, I'm having trouble deciding on an hors-d'oeuvres menu. In years past, I had a million ideas and had to whittle my tremendous lists of canapes, crudites, and the like down to a number of items I actually had platters to serve from. This year, not so much. What's making it hard is not just my usual lack of time to plan, though that is a factor. More than that, I'm feeling a bit intimidated about cooking for everyone. I used to know my way around a professional kitchen like...well, I don't know like what. But my work was so a part of me that it was a part of my physical memory. My arms and hands were used to exactly the right movements necessary to whip egg whites, shake a pan of rapidly caramelizing sugar, flute dozens of pie crusts in minutes, and all the rest of those small tasks I did for years. Those physical memories are pretty rusty now. I've been out of that life and really that culture--because there is a professional kitchen culture--for a couple of years now. And some of those people from that life are coming to my party.

So chefs are coming. Not only that, there will be vegetarians. Then, there's my good friend on a gluten-free diet. Husband isn't so down with the veggie thing since I wooed him away from his virtuous vegetarianism with a plateful of warm fried chicken some years ago. He told me he wants "meat on toothpicks." How the hell am I going to pull this all together AND make it yummy and festive? Wish me luck, will ya?

And any menu ideas you want to throw my way would be warmly received.


Suzanne said...

As someone who's cooking-impaired, I have no suggestions. And if someone like you, who knows her way around a kitchen, feels intimidated at the prospect of hosting a party, then there's no hope for me (we may host one for a few friends if I can work up the nerve)!

Good luck!

Mama D said...

Umm... you're probably not looking for help from someone like me... stuffed mushrooms?

Hope said...

Some of our favorites:
Stuffed mushrooms
Deviled eggs
Little sausages and bbq sauce
Cheesy tomato bread
cheeseballs and crackers
sliced cheeses and beef sticks
Olives and little pickles

We sometimes have dinners where all we eat are appetizers and vegetables and dip because we love them so much!

All of these are easy to prepare, with deveiled eggs probably being the most labor intensive.

Stuff mushrooms with cream cheese mixed with dry ranch dressing dip, top with grated cheddar and bake.

Tomato cheese bread - use creamy Havarti, top with chopped roma tomatoes, salt and pepper and maybe a little italian seasoning and bake.

Sausages and bbq sauce, use little smokie cocktail weenines - sauce is grape jelly and bottled chili sauce mixed together.

I've been wanting to try a "shrimp pizza" I had a few years ago - It was cream cheese spread on a platter, topped with cocktail sauce, chopped green onions, and tiny shrimp (maybe canned?) and served with crackers. I think this would also be good with crab.

Cheeseballs are easy - cream cheese, chopped green onions, chopped ham, and some worstchestershire sauce...(sp?) all mixed up. I also make a vegetarian one with chopped green peppers and onion and cheddar cheese grated in.
You can roll them in some chopped nuts to make then prettier when you serve them.

Yum. I love party food!

Good luck from some stranger who read your blog!

Lauren said...

Hey there,

What fun. OK, let's get to work:

First, attitude. Let go of the idea that chefs need be impressed. Because they won't be. But they will have a good time because YOU are there and they missed your party terribly last year.

Second, make stuff ahead and cheat without shame when necessary.

As for specifics? I would say avoid fussy individual appetizers like the plague. Go for a white bean dip (simple, delicious!) and veggies. Buy frozen meatballs from a good Italian butcher if there is one, and put them in the crockpot w/ some appropriate sauce. Like Hope suggested, go for a tray of olives and other antipasto-type-stuff.

Sounds great!

Beth said...

i love all that appetizer stuff. I have a few recipes but my favorite is to mix softened cream cheese with gorganzola, chill, then roll into little balls and wrap a fresh basil leaf around it. yummy!!!

cubmommy said...

I just have to say good luck. I can't cook to save my life so I am no help.

Oh, I see hope mentioned deviled eggs on her list. That sounds so good. Damn these cravings.

Have a great time this weekend. I am jealous.