This past Tuesday evening, (Meat)Balls on the Run had the amazing opportunity to cater the reception after the opening night performance of the fabulous Stacie Perlman's "The Story Underneath", her debut cabaret at the Metropolitan Room in New York City. Now, Stacie and I have been friends since we were about 15 years old and I've been watching her perform over the years in various venues, shows, styles etc... This was an amazing chance to see her up there, doing something she's talked about for years and doing it phenomenally well! (Seriously! Go see it! Here - you can even leave the blog for a minute and go here to buy tickets to either the July 31 or August 13 performances. )
OK, now that you're back ... wait...you did come back didn't you? Oh, OK whew. So after the show ended to rousing rounds of applause and a seriously fun encore, everyone schlepped downstairs to the small reception area for cocktails, snacks and schmoozing.
The menu for the party consisted of a few simple appetizers - all finger foods that could be picked up and eaten in a bite or two plus a sweet. The main focus was that everything needed to be able to be served at room temperature as I wanted to be able to set up the food, go up and see the cabaret and then come down and just uncover it all after it was done. We set up a few stations around the room so people could mix and mingle, pick something up and wander off with their drink. The menu included:
Smokey Spinach & Broccoli Balls
Endive stuffed with Blue Cheese and Candied Spicy Pecans
Dates stuffed with Honeyed Goat Cheese, Toasted Walnuts and Sea Salt
Hummus Trio with Crudites & Assorted Flat breads
Black Bean with Cilantro, White Bean with Rosemary, Traditional Chick Pea
Miniature Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Curd and Strawberry Mousse Frosting
This menu was really fun for us to put together! The goal was to give a good indication of the types of hors d'oeuvres that I can provide along a range of cheeky (the balls) to classy (the endive) to sweet and playful (the cupcakes). Everything is pretty easy to assemble and can easily be done for the home cocktail party! I've included a few recipes at the end of this entry for you to play with on your own (or you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and just get me to do it for you!)
I think the highlight of the night for me was looking out at my longest and best friend singing her heart out - doing what she loved and then getting to go downstairs and put on my own version of a show. It's nice to know that after so many years of hard work our dreams are really starting to come true. And it's even more special that she let me get in on the act with her! Stacie - you've always been a star in my book. Now the rest of the world will know it too!
For the nuts:
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
16 oz. chopped pecans
Melt butter in a saute pan, add brown and granulated sugar and slowly allow to melt and caramelize. Add the spices cook over low heat for a few minutes until fragrant and a deep golden color. Add the chopped nuts and stir until all the nuts are coated with the mixture. Carefully pour onto a parchment lined baking sheet and spread into a single layer. Allow to cool completely and then break apart into desired sized pieces. For this recipe I like them on the smaller side.
3 heads endive
1 cup good quality blue cheese - crumbled
Slice the root end off of the endive and gently separate the leaves. Remove any that are less than presentable. Place a small amount of blue cheese on the root end of the endive and place on a serving platter. I like to place them in a circle with a bunch of grapes in the middle (see the picture below) with the pretty pointed ends facing out. Once you've filled and placed all the endive, sprinkle the chopped candied nuts all over the cheese. You want enough on there so that if some falls off, there will still be a few nuggets on each one.
Serve at room temperature and enjoy.
Dates with Honeyed Goat Cheese
1 box Medjool Dates - pitted and cut in half length-wise.
4 oz. goat cheese
4-5 tablespoons good quality honey
milk (a few tablespoons just to thin out the consistency a little)
Toasted Chopped Walnuts
Fleur De Sel
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Combine goat cheese with honey and add the milk one tablespoon at a time until a smooth creamy consistency is achieved. I like to put the cheese in a piping bag and pipe it into the dates but a spoon works just as well.
Once all the dates are stuffed, arrange them on your serving platter, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle finely chopped toasted walnuts over the top and finish with a touch of sea salt on each date.
Serve at room temperature and be prepared for your guests to ask for more!
Smokey Spinach & Broccoli Balls
1 10 oz. box frozen chopped spinach
1 10 oz. box frozen chopped broccoli
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
10 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups of Panko Breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Defrost spinach and broccoli in a microwave safe bowl and allow to cool. When cool to the touch - squeeze out as much of the excess liquid from the vegetables (discard liquid). Combine all remaining ingredients and mix together to form a very thick paste. With dampened hands, roll the mixture into walnut sized balls (you may need to add more panko if the mixture is a bit too wet to roll). Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet about 1" apart and bake for 20-25 minutes until the balls are golden and firm to the touch. Don't let them get too brown or they'll toughen up on you.
Serve warm or at room temperature.