Monday, August 23, 2010


In March,  I helped my Mom throw a bridal cocktail party for a young lady I have been friends with for 25 years.  (Apparently, I was also the group tutor for her new husband's chemistry class at NC State).  I helped her plan the menu, order the plates and glasses and other hardware, cook and execute the menu and cocktails, and serve the food.  Everybody really liked it, and really enjoyed themselves.  Another friend of my Mom's got married recently, and she decided to throw her a reception cocktail party, and asked if I'd help again.  We planned an eight dish heavy hors d'oeuvres menu, with beer and wine.  I think it went well.  Below are the recipes and pictures of our food.

  • Caprese Skewers
  • Asian Sesame Krab Salad
    • w/ Tempura Crunchies
  • Spinach Artichoke Wonton cups
  • Smoked Pork BBQ Sliders
    • w/ Bourbon Whiskey Sauce
    • w/ Eastern NC Vinegar Mustard Sauce
  • Flank Steak Skewers
    • w/ Horseradish Sauce
  • Key Lime Tarts
  • Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Cakes
    • w/ Peanut Butter Frosting & Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze

Caprese Skewers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Mozzarella Balls
  • Basil leaves (cinnamon)
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Pepper

Cut the tomatoes in half, add mozzarella, and marinate for at least 30 minutes in oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic.  Skewer tomato, basil, then tomato.  Can drizzle with reduced balsamic.

Asian Krab Salad
inspired by Umi Restaurant
(Makes a ton)
  • 4 lbs Krab
  • 3 heads iceberg lettuce
  • 6 tsp lemon juice
  • 8 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2-4 tsp Salt
  • 1-2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1-2 Cups neutral oil (Canola)
  • ½ Box tempura batter
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 ice cube
Shred Krab in food processor using shred-plate blade, or by hand.  It should resemble ¼ to ½ inch threads.  Squirt lemon juice over lettuce to prevent browning and for flavor.  Place in colander to allow to drain while prepping the rest.  Cut lettuce down into ½ inch thin strips, trying to match the size of the Krab.  Combine lettuce and krab, then add sesame, soy, salt, pepper, and seeds.  Toss until thoroughly mixed.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tempura Crunchies
In the meantime, place the oil in a small but deep sauce pan over medium-high heat, aiming for fry temperature of 375ºF.  Make the tempura batter as indicated: combine flour with 2/3 cup, whisk, add ice cube.  Drop batter into oil in small drops from either whisk or spoon, from 4-8 inches.  BE CAREFUL OF SPLASHING HOT OIL!!!  

The height helps makes small individual fried crunchies.  Remove with spider to drying rack set on paper towels to wick oil.  Place tempura in pan in oven to stay warm 
and crispy.  Can be flavored.  Toss with salad just before servings.

Spinach Artichoke Wonton Cups

Smoked Pork BBQ Sliders
  • 2 Boston butts (pork shoulder)
Brine the butts in a salt and water mixture for 1-2 hours.  Smoke in an (electric) smoker, with your choice of flavorant--I like hickory or applewood chips.  Make sure to keep moist, refilling the water reservoir.  Smoke for 8-10 hours, until the butt reaches an internal temperature of 140-145ºF.  Remove, wrap in aluminum foil, and rest for at least 30 minutes.

Bourbon Whiskey Sauce (makes 8oz) 
Ingredients (amounts are approximate)
  • 2-3oz Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey (or Tennessee Whiskey)
  • 24oz Pale Ale or Lager
  • 2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 2 tsp Molasses 
  • 1 tsp Honey
  • 3-4 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Smoked Hungarian Paprika 
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 Pinches Cinnamon
  • Pinch Nutmeg
  • Pinch 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • Dash lemon juice
  • Pork Gelatin leavings 
Combine all ingredients in small sauce pan over medium low heat, simmer until reduced, about 1-2 hours.

Eastern NC Vinegar Mustard Sauce 
Ingredients (amounts are approximate)
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp Mustard Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Red Pepper flakes
  • 4-6oz White Wine
  • 1 tsp Honey
  • 1-2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Sage
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • Dash lemon juice
  • Pork Gelatin leavings 
Combine all ingredients in small sauce pan over medium low heat, simmer 30-60 minutes.  Will be liquid.
Serve pork, hot or cold, with sauce on mini-buns. 

Flank Steak Skewers
Grill 2-4 flank steaks to medium-rare temp, 140 ºF.  Remove, wrap in aluminum foil, rest, refrigerate until chilled.  Slice perpendicular to the grain in 1 - 1 1/2 inch wide strips, and skewer in a wavy s-curve.

Horseradish Sauce
Adapted from Alton Brown
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 1/2 cup grated fresh horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place all of the ingredients, except horseradish, into a medium mixing bowl and whisk until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Peel fresh horseradish, grate with microplane over sauce bowl.  Stir to combine.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight to allow flavors to meld. Sauce can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 2 to 3 weeks.

Key Lime Tarts

Adapted from Athens Food

  • 1/2 cup room temp. cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest (1/2 for garnish)
  • 15 Athens® Mini Fillo Shells (1 box)
  • 2 thin slices of lime, cut into eighths, for garnish

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and milk. Mix until light and fluffy. Add lime juice and lime zest. Mix thoroughly. Transfer to Ziploc bag, and chill for at least 1 hour. Snip the tip of a corner, and pipe ~2 teaspoons of filling into each Fillo Shell. Garnish with whipped cream, and sliced lime or zest. Serve immediately.  Makes 15 desserts

Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who got it from somebody else.

Instead of making a chocolate sour cream cake from scratch, I again used the (2) Arrowhead Mills Organic Chocolate cake mix(es).  I divided the batter into 2, 16x12 sheet pan, lined with parchment paper, sprayed with Canola Oil and lightly flowered.  I baked them at 350F, for about 28 minutes.  Cooled and cut into about 240 little squares.  I then made ~120, two layer mini-cakes (~2oz), with the peanut butter frosting between the cakes and on top, then covered with the chocolate peanut butter glaze.

Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups
  • 10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Fit piping bag tip onto a gallon Ziploc bag; scoop frosting into a bag and pipe onto cakes.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or morsels
  • 3 4 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
Half fill a small saucepan with water and place over medium to medium low heat, aim for a simmer.  Put a medium METAL mixing bowl on top of the pan.  Use one large enough to whisk in, and tall enough that the steam doesn't roll from the sauce pan to the chocolate.  Combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and peanut butter in the bowl.  Let melt, and gently whisk until thoroughly combined and smooth.  The chocolate will take on a matte finish until you add the half-and-half.

Remove the bowl from the heat and add either half-and-half, or 1/4 cup cream and 1/4 cup milk.  Whisk to combine. Pour into a Ziploc bag and snip the tip.  Use while still warm.

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