PARTY NIGHT FROM FOOD FOR THOUGHT WITH CLAIRE THOMAS

It’s party night, and I’m serving my favorite cold bites to please a crowd.  Whitney Adams, from the awesome wine blog Brunellos Have More Fun and one of my favorite ladies EVER, joins me for some tips and help eating these tasty treats.

Here’s some our our recent video collaborations showing what wine to bring to a dinner party and what pairs with grilled cheese. Enjoy!

http://vimeo.com/32477394

http://vimeo.com/31587834

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SMASHED PEA CROSTINI

This idea is an offshoot of my sister’s favorite soup: sweet pea soup with white truffle oil, white pepper, and a bit of crumbled pancetta (or bacon) on top. The smashed peas however, are even easier to make than the soup, as it does not require being pushed through a sieve for a velvety texture. If the peas are too smooth, it takes on a baby food quality that no one above the age of 3 would enjoy. It’s extremely simple, and is entirely focused on emphasizing the sweetness of the peas. As Amanda would say: it’s legit.

INGREDIENTS

For 10-15 (Depending on the size of grilled bread slices)

1 bag frozen organic sweet peas

make sure they are sweet peas, rather than regular peas

several drops white truffle oil (optional)

white pepper

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 cup fresh ricotta

crème fraiche or thin sour cream

1 baguette

1/4 cup olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Fill a pot of water up halfway with water, and add the salt and sugar. Bring the water to a boil and cook the peas for 3 minutes. Drain the peas and run cold water over them to stop the cooking process. This maintains their beautiful color and texture. Take the peas and put it into the food processor (this make take more than one round) and blitz until the skins are broken, yet the peas are still distinguishable (i.e. Not baby food). In a bowl, use a spatula to incorporate the pea puree and the ricotta.  Add several drops of white truffle oil, and a small amount of finely ground white pepper. Taste and adjust accordingly.

Slice the bread in small rounds for hors d’oeuvres, or diagonal slices for bruschetta-style tapas. Drizzle the bread heavily in olive oil and grill, or toast in a 350 F oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Take the puree and smooth a small round on the grilled bread and drizzle on a small bit of crème fraiche. Simple and delicious, my favorite combination. Enjoy!

 

BLISTERED CANNELLINI BEANS AND ROASTED CHERRY TOMATOES OVER MOZZARELLA WITH BASIL

I LOVE cannellini beans. They’re buttery soft, and have great texture, and combined with roasted cherry tomatoes and mozzarella, this dish is a winner at every party I’ve taken it to.

INGREDIENTS

2 pints cherry tomatoes

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 rosemary sprig, leaves removed

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling

3 15-ounce cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon of rosemary, finely chopped

1 pinch chili flakes

about 3 tablespoons of olive oil

salt and pepper

zest of one lemon

1/2 cup basil, chiffonade

1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced

DIRECTIONS

On a baking sheet covered in parchment (or a silicon pad), add the tomatoes, whole, and drizzle with a 1/4 cup of olive oil and the rosemary, salt and pepper. Roast until the skins are puckered and browned, about 25-30 minutes.

If you can find the cannel ini beans dry and have the time to simmer them, do, but it’s party night, and my goal is to stay as stress-free as possible, so I’m starting with cans of beans (but not too tender) that I’ve rinsed.

Add the garlic and chili to the oil over a medium flame.  Once it starts crackling a little add the rosemary and stir for about 10-15 seconds, careful to not burn the garlic.  Add the beans and gently stir to combine everything.  Bring the heat up a little, and let the beans sit, getting browned and crisp on the outside.  Add salt and pepper to taste, stir, and let them rest for another minute.

Pour them onto one side of a serving dish and sprinkle the zest over.  Add the mozzarella in the center, the tomatoes on the other side and garnish with basil and olive oil.

 

SAUTÉED SWISS CHARD + PROSCIUTTO SANDWICH

INGREDIENTS

1 bunch swiss chard, chopped into 1/4 wide pieces

1 garlic clove, minced

6 slices of prosciutto

6 thin slices of gruyere

1 tablespoon parsley leaves

olive oil

salt and pepper

sliced sourdough bread

DIRECTIONS

In a saute pan over a medium flame, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the swiss chard with a large pinch of salt and pepper. Saute for about 2 minutes, or until just wilted, and add the garlic, cooking for a few minutes more. Pile the swiss chard onto a slice of sourdough and add the slice of prosciutto and cheese. Top with a few parsley leaves and another slice of sourdough.  In a saute pan over medium heat, drizzle in a tablespoon of olive oil and add the sandwich.  Press down and toast until golden brown, flip and toast the other side.  Slice into fours (for smaller, party friendly bites) and enjoy.

TIP: Slice into sixths or eighths to stretch these, also, to make them accessible.

TIP: Make extra chard, buy extra prosciutto and bread, and have all the ingredients laying around for these to make up a new plate when you start to run out. Trust me, once people try them, you will!

 

SAUTÉED MUSHROOMS WITH THYME, SHERRY VINEGAR + SHALLOT WITH ROASTED GARLIC

INGREDIENTS

1 pound mushrooms, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces (I used porcini)

1 teaspoon thyme, chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 tablespoon Jimenez Sherry Vinegar

6 cloves of garlic

olive oil

salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

Pre Heat your oven to 400 F.

Wrap the peeled garlic in aluminum foil with a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt, and roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, until soft and a deep golden brown.  Chop up and set aside.

In a saute pan over a medium flame, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and brown the shallot. Add the mushrooms and a large pinch of salt and pepper. Saute for about 15 minutes, until the mushrooms are browned and just getting soft. Add the roasted garlic and thyme and cook for a minute or two longer. Add the vinegar and stir to combine.