Sunday, December 21, 2008

Artie Cooks

Now, most of you know, in Casa de la Vander-dogan, Scott is the cook and I am the decorator/event planner. I might hand the menu choices off to Scott, but that is entirely as deep as I get into actually preparing the food.

Now it's not because I feel like I can't cook - or even that I don't want to cook, it has nothing to do with that at all. Frankly, Scott and I are so good at our perspective tasks when it comes to planning dinners that I don't want to fool with our feng shui.

Tonight, however, at the first annual Christmas Tour of Homes, Scott was unable to prepare scrumptious Amuse-bouche for the Christmas travellers, and I was left to prepare the entire thing. Though he tempted me with the idea of buying bulk frozen "black tie" appetizers from Sams, like: Mini Beef Wellington, Quiche, and Oyster Stuffed Mushroom - I was dying to do something on my own.

So, I called my good friend Isa, and together we came up with a good plan. Spinach Salad garnished with orange zest and citrus dressing in a Parmesan cheese cup. I know - I thought the same thing, Parmesan cheese cup? But they came out just beautifully!

Best part is, it's EXTREMELY EASY! I first layered a pan with a fine mist of olive oil, then sprinkled shredded Parmesan cheese onto the pan in a small mound, about 3" in circumference. Then I put the pan into the oven on 375 until the cheese was melted.

I gave it about 30 seconds to cool, and then used a spatula to take the flat mound of warm cheese and mold it onto inverted votive candle holders. You could use shot glasses, water mugs - anything that will allow for a mold. The votive candle holders I chose were the perfect size for this particular party.

After they were molded, I put them back in the fridge to "cool off" and then before the party I filled them with the spinach salad, orange zest dressing, and garnish.

These were a HUGE hit! We even spent about 30 minutes deciding amongst ourselves the many uses for these cheese cups. Next party, twice baked potatoes served in these beauties! Mm mm. Now - onto the "Main" Appetizer: Pinwheeled Chicken.

I've always loved the look of pinwheeled appetizers. There is something so artistic about its presentation. I took basic stuffing mix, and added hot pepper Italian sausage, granny smith apples - cooked in Captain Morgans Tattoo Rum and Cinnamon, and rolled it into pinwheels with boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

After about 20 minutes in the oven on 375, I browned them in a skillet with a little bit of butter and seasoning, and then garnished with cranberry sauce, with green apple and lemon zest.

The party-goers seemed to really love the dishes. Who knows if they were really that good, only thing we do know is, they sure were pretty!