Friday, March 30, 2012

Appetizers, Artists, and Assembly Lines

I've been quiet for the past couple of days ((well, here at least, I'm actually never *that* quiet)) because I was getting ready for the event at the gallery last night.  It went really well-  I suspect there were upwards of 200 people who came through the show.  Here is the menu: fruit platter with a cream cheese/marshmallow dip, veggie platter with a dill dip, bourbon-soaked grapes with walnut goat cheese, salted cucumber slices with a Mediterranean feta spread, Caprese salad skewers, a brie platter with baby heirloom tomatoes and kalamata olives, and garlicky parmesan spinach and artichoke dip with baguette slices and crackers.

I enlisted the help of one of my dear friends the day prior because this project entailed a LOT of chopping and assembly.  The word "lot" in all capital letters doesn't even begin to cover it.  This was definitely labor-intensive, but it turned out awesome.  Here's the full array:

To the far right of those pictures is the bourbon grapes.  This actually a fairly easy project ((in most regards)) and was probably the most popular item.  I got this idea off of Pinterest ((be my friend there!  User name is Julia Steele.))

As I was assembling these, I renamed them Jules' effed up cake pops...


Bourbon ((as cheap as you can get))
Goat cheese

((I haven't included proportions, because this really varies...  Get one package of each and keep going until the goat cheese is gone.  If you have leftovers of the others, you can use them for something else.))

All you do is wash and remove the grapes from the stems and place them in a good sized piece of tupperware.  Pour the bourbon over until all of them are submerged.  Use the cheapest, and likely most disgusting, bottle you can find.  It had better be plastic and it should probably be dusty.  I bought a handle for something like four dollars!  ((I'm going to use the leftovers to strip some paint later.))  Be sure to seal it tightly and then let them marinate for at least six hours, but as long as two days.  ((You may want to use red grapes for this.  I used green and I was afraid they were going to turn color with the alcohol.  There was just a tinge at the point where the stem had been removed.  Totally fine, but red/purple might be prettier.  Just saying.))

To make the cheese balls, first deal with the walnuts.  You can crush them by putting them in a baggie and then taking a rolling pin to it or in my personal favorite way, by stomping on them and maybe re-enacting a dance routine you made up to a Tiffany song in the 6th grade.  You can then toast them lightly by placing them in a small pan over a medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes.  ((You can also buy them pre-toasted at Trader Joe's and probably other places too.))

Start rolling up the goat cheese.  Roll it between you palms to make small balls.  ((Ours were pretty small, mainly because we were trying to stretch the cheese and get as many skewers as possible.))  Then roll the ball in your crushed up walnuts and smash them in a little bit so they don't all fall right back off.  This is going to be messy, consider yourself warned.

If you attempt to skewer them right now, you will discover that goat cheese does NOT cooperate with skewering.  It falls right apart.  I ended up putting them in the freezer for about 3 hours to get them skewerable ((<---not a word.))  If you attempt to skewer them immediately after removing them from the freezer, you will also find them to not be skewerable and you might stab yourself with the skewer.  However, they soften up FAST.  Within ten minutes they should be a decent consistency where you can insert the top of the skewer into them.  As pictured, I layered two of the grapes with one cheese ball.  Keep them refrigerated until you are ready to serve them.  I actually put the entire tray back in the freezer for about two hours.  The grapes didn't freeze due to the booze in them, but they were nice and cold when I put them out.

The extra grapes were immensely popular.  I'm pretty sure a few people had the equivalent of a full drink in grapes.  I'm not judging.  I might have been encouraging it.  They also went really well with the fruit dip.


Here are some other pictures from the show:

Naked Caprese Salad Skewers
Caprese Salad Skewers Dressed with Balsamic and Parmesan
Brie with Baby Heirlooms and Kalamatas
Salted Cucumbers with Mediterranean Feta Spread
Fruit Platter with Dip in a Mini-Watermelon
Spinach-Artichoke Dip with Parmesan

I'll go over some of the other items later, but for now, I am going to finally go finish drying and putting away all the serving pieces and then take an evening off!  It is so close to being Pool Time in AZ that I can smell it.

Happy Weekend!

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