Let’s Party

EntertainingTime Out
By Mary Canovas

Spring is still nowhere in sight. Temperature normally hovers around freezing point at sundown and will have dipped below zero by midnight. But surely a mere inclement weather won’t keep you from throwing a party or having a get-together? There are many ways to keep you and your friends feeling warm and glad they’ve dropped by. Here are some of those.

THE MAGICAL DINNER TABLE

Candles have always made a great table decoration but when you add an over-sized glass bowl, water, flower petals and glass marbles, it makes your centerpiece shimmer in every direction due to the light of the candle reflecting off the bowl into the water.

Floating-Candles Centerpiece
Floating candles
  • First the classic: A crystal bowl filled with water, a few flowers or petals floating around and maybe a seashell and pebbles or glass marbles and floating candles.
  • Now the new twist: Use one or more glass vases or large tumblers. Place a flower at the bottom, then put a rock or some pebbles, glass marbles or seashells surrounding the base of the flower to act as an anchor so it won’t float to the top. Top off with floating candles of your choice.
  • Tips: Floating candles also come in a variety of scents and colors so you can coordinate with your flower arrangement.
  • Put a mirror under the bowl or glass. It will reflect light back in all directions. You can also add a few drops of food coloring to the water for a different effect.

And now the food

Appetizers
Chicken Liver Paté

Ingredients
500 gr. chicken livers
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot or 1 medium onion, minced
1/3 cup cognac or Madeira
1 cup heavy cream
(Optional) 1 tsp allspice (make you own recipe below)
1/2 tsp salt

 Chicken liver pate

Preparation

  • Clean, rinse and cut the livers into small pieces. Sauté the minced shallots or onion in 2 tablespoons of butter until it begins to soften, then add livers. Cook until firm but still a little rosy on the inside. Scrape pan contents into a bowl.Return pan to heat, adding the cognac. Reduce to about 3 tablespoons, then add all into a food processor.
  • Melt the 1/2 cup of butter in pan, and then add it, the cream, and seasonings to the processor and blend until smooth. It will not be firm at this point but the fat in the paté will harden when it gets chilled.
  • Put in container and refrigerator until completely chilled and firm. If serving at a party, remember that it will become soft if left sitting out for a long time. Serve with crackers or little toasts or baguette slices, mustard, and pickles..

 

Allspice

Spanish explorers discovered the Allspice plant in Jamaica in the beginning of the 16th century. The English named it “Allspice”. It was said to have the aroma of several spices including cloves, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg. Few of us have allspice here in Spain so here´s a great substitute you can make with spices readily available. Allspice can be used on anything from meats, fish, cakes, salads….

Homemade allspice: Equal parts of finely ground cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and (optional) black pepper

 

Fried Nutty Brie Appetizers

Ingredients
Brie cut in wedges
1/3 cup walnuts, 1/3 cup almonds—finely chopped
2 eggs
1/4 cup whipping cream
Sunflower oil (for frying)

Nutty friend brie

Accompaniments

French bread baguette brushed with olive oil and toasted in oven 10 minutes, cut into slices, lightly toasted in oven, Ritz crackers, apple wedges, grapes, raisins, nuts, jam

Directions

  • Freeze Brie 30 minutes. Remove cheese from freezer.
  • Whisk eggs and cream to blend. Dip each wedge into egg mixture and then into nut mixture, turning to coat and pressing to adhere.
  • Transfer to plate, cover with plastic and refrigerate until very cold, at least 45 minutes. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
  • Pour enough oil into frying pan to reach depth of 1-1/2 inches. Heat over medium heat. Fry Brie until deep golden brown, turning occasionally (about 3 minutes). Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  • Serve with accompaniment – see above.

 

“The Cornerstones”
Southern Cornbread

Native Americans were using ground corn thousands of years before European explorers arrived in the New World. European settlers learned how to use this flour and soon created recipes of their own similar to those in Europe. Cornbread has been called a “cornerstone” of Southern United States cuisine. It also makes heavenly breakfast muffins. There´s only one catch. They must be eaten straight out of the oven because they tend to dry out very quickly. Cornbread muffins are best served with lots of sweet creamy butter.

Southern cornbread

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 200 º C
  • Lightly grease a 9 inch (22 cm) cake pan.In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk and vegetable oil until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  • Serve immediately with lots of butter .

 

New England Clam Chowder

There are all kinds of clam chowder. Passions run deep as to how it should be cooked. Some say only with tomatoes or tomatoes with milk, others say only milk and cream, and others like it clear. One true expert on New England, specifically Cape Cod, American author, Joseph Crosby Lincoln, once wrote: “A New England clam chowder, made as it should be, is a dish to preach about, to chant praises and sing hymns and burn incense before. To fight for, the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought for – or on – clam chowder; part of it at least, I am sure it was. It is as American as the Stars and Stripes, as patriotic as the national Anthem. It is `Yankee Doodle in a kettle´.”

New Englan clam chowder

Ingredients
1/4 cup cut-up bacon or lean salt pork
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans minced or whole clams, drained (reserve liquid)*
1 cup finely chopped potato
1 cup milk 1 cup heavy cream 1/2 teaspoon salt, Dash of pepper * 2 cups chopped, shucked fresh clams, with liquid can be substituted.

Directions

  • Add enough water to reserved clam liquid to measure 1 cup.
  • Sauté bacon and onion in saucepan until bacon is crisp and onion is tender.
  • Stir clams, liquid, potatoes, salt and pepper into onion mixture and heat to boiling point.
  • Cover and cook until potato is tender – about 15 minutes.
  • Stir in milk and cream. Heat, stirring occasionally, just until hot (do not boil).

 

Macaroni and Cheese

Did you know that Thomas Jefferson was the inventor of America´s beloved Macaroni and cheese? Early English colonists often boiled noodles, then added a cream sauce and a little cheese, but it wasn’t until Jefferson went to Paris in 1787 and brought home a pasta machine from Italy, that baked macaroni and cheese became known in America. However his innovation was to add American or English cheddar cheese, and then bake it to create the dish we know as Mac and Cheese.

Another President, Ronald Reagan, liked to celebrate his birthday by having his favorite dinner — macaroni and cheese. Here´s the original recipe they served the president from The White House Family Cookbook.

Macaroni & cheese

Ingredients
250 gr. macaroni
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg, beaten
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup warm milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
a pinch of paprika

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 180ºC. Butter a 2-quart casserole dish.
  • Add macaroni to 2 quarts of boiling salted water and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Drain well in a colander. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
  • Stir in butter and beaten egg. Add 2 -1/2 cups of the grated cheese.
  • In a small bowl, combine milk with salt, mustard and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Spoon macaroni and cheese into the prepared casserole. Pour milk mixture over and sprinkle top with the remaining cheese.
  • Sprinkle with paprika. Bake in a preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until macaroni is firm to the touch and the top is crusty and browned.

For more fabulous and doable stuff on entertaining, go to www.encasacontigo.com