Recipes from my kitchen, from the road and from mah friends!

The Last Appetizers of 2014

We bid 2014 farewell with a smashing evening serving up delectable finger foods for a small gathering in Nob Hill.  Our hosts set up a fun scene with good wine and good music, and Subtle Peach provided the eats.  What better way to end the year then with hard work, good food, lots of dancing and a little bit of magic? 

The night started out with Beet-It Salad cups, featuring candied citrus, roasted beets and a honey apple cider viniagrette; as well as our Rosemary Pumpkin Dumplings with Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog goat cheese filling and some lovely dill roasted peanuts from our hosts. 

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We then moved on to Lemongrass Ginger Chicken/Tofu Skewers and our Cucumber Cracker. The sauce for the Chicken Skewers was a simple combination of canned coconut milk and whole fresh roasted peanuts. The peanuts came raw from Rainbow Grocery in SF, and were then dry roasted in our kitchen oven.  Kept frozen, these peanuts make a great addition to many dishes! 

Peanut Coconut Sauce

1.  Put the peanuts (about 1 cup) in a food processor with about 2 tablespoons coconut milk to start.  

2.  Process the peanuts for about a minute, then gradually add more coconut milk (up to two cans)  until the peanuts are completely smooth and the sauce is at desired consistency.  

3. Hit the mixture with some minced ginger + garlic and soy sauce to taste, and process for about 2 more minutes and

4. BOOM! Delicious coconut peanut flavor.  This sauce gets better with age too (for about 2 weeks) so, I will be using the extra for days to come. 

Alongside the Chicken Skewers we served our Cucumber cracker.  Now, vegan options are not usually the most popular but this dish received possibly the most attention and surprised-delight of the evening.  The tangy soy sesame dressed soba noodles elicited an enthused curiosity from our guests, and was paired nicely by the crisp freshness of its cucumber vehicle.  The dressing is quite simple:

Sesame Soy Dressing for Soba Noodles

1/4  cup neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon chili oil (oil from a jar of chilis)
1/2  cup soy sauce

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3  dark brown sugar
1  tablespoon minced ginger
1 garlic clove, minced

1.  Mix all ingredients except oils together with a whisk or immersion blender (AKA best kitchen tool ever, other than a sharp knife).

2.  Keep immersion blender or whisk going while drizzling in the oils.  Oil is always added this way to dressings in order to emulsify the mixture.  Mixing other ingredients first with the acid allows the flavors to infuse!

3.  I like to keep my dressings in a mason jar so I can easily shake before using, and keep in refrigerator between uses.

After the Cucumber Cracker and Chicken Skewers came Baked Potato Wedges and Cheese dip.  As you can imagine, this combination was delicious and a crowd pleaser!  We used russet potatoes wedged and tossed in olive oil and s+p.  The potatoes were cooked at around 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until nice and brown so that they were creamy inside and crispy out!


Our final appetizer of the evening was pitched as "Citrus Brisket Sliders on Gougeres", but at the party we overheard them called "Brisket Biscuits" which has a great ring to it, is far less wordy and will now be their name.  This app is just what it's former name describes, slow cooked brisket on a gougere bun, which is a cheesy puff pastry.  We threw some arugula on for good measure and called it a win.  Here is what the brisket looked like before it went in the oven:

And what party would be complete without dessert?  Our hosts asked for a fun dessert so we served up Build-your-own-gingerbread-men-and-women.  It was a smashing success!  I love a good interactive gingerbread build because it always starts off slow and then people get really into it and get really creative.  We offered cookie cutters as well as knives for those who want to make up their own designs.  And of course some homemade Vanilla Buttercream frosting to decorate with!

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What a fun night!  Huge thanks to our hosts and their guests for being such a pleasure to work with as well as Robert Van Noord for his solid work in the kitchen.  All of this magic transpired and the hour was only 10pm, leaving time to change scenes and hit the dance floor for the last hours of 2014—and hit the dance floor I did at Bissop Baobab — what a blast!  Happy New Year!