Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day Part I - One crazy day in the kitchen

Father's Day this year was not just a day - it was a weekend. I'd have to say it was pretty fun, but seriously, in any other circumstance, I would say the effort was DEFINITELY not worth the result. Especially for my father, who places taste and quality far above presentation. But anyhoo, I was bored and had time to kill. Plus, I just borrowed an incredibly cool book from the library (hors d'oevres by Eric Treuille and Victoria Blashford-Snell) and it had so many pretty pictures, I couldn't resist.

So on Saturday, I made a Father's Day dinner that consisted entirely of appetizers. I will say one thing: I have new-found respect for caterers. Making appetizers both tasty and appealing is HARD. Even with my dad helping me in the kitchen, it took all day (well, half the day; we spent the morning making apple pie). But in the end, everything came out pretty well.

Actually, there were a few more appetizers (skewered shrimp with lemon mayonnaise, curry puffs, vegetable dips, etc.), but in my haste, I either forgot to take pictures, or the food wasn't aesthetically pleasing enough to be posted. 

Menu (from hors d'oevures):

Spicy Shrimp Puff Pastry (far left)


-1/2 lb cooked shrimp
-1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
-1 garlic clove, crushed
-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
-Olive oil
-1 tbsp lemon juice
-Salt, black pepper
-1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
-Puff pastry vol-au-vents

1. Mix everything together. You can leave this for up to a day in advance.
2. Right before serving, add salt, pepper, and parsley.
3. Top vol-au-vents, crostini, etc.

Shrimp Cocktail Puffs


-1/2 lb precooked shrimp
-3 tbsp mayonnaise
-1 tbsp ketchup
-1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
-Salt, hot sauce
-Choux puffs
-Lettuce for garnish
-Paprika for dusting

1. Mix shrimp, mayo, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce.
2. Add salt and hot sauce to taste.
3. Cut each choux puff in half and add a dollop onto each bottom half.
4. Tuck into each one a piece of lettuce leaf.
5. Dust on paprika and, if you want, top with the top half of choux puff.

Spicy Cilantro Shrimp (middle)


-Sesame seeds for garnish
-1/4 lb shrimp, cooked and peeled
-1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
-6 tbsp Thai sweet chili sauce
-Pie shell pastry cups

1. Mix everything together (except sesame seeds).
2. Roast sesame seeds over low heat for about 3 minutes.
3. Spoon a little into each tart and garnish with the sesame seeds.

Coconut Saffron Shrimp (second to right)


-20 raw shrimp, peeled
-1 lemongrass stalk, minced
-1 shallot, minced
-1/2-inch ginger, minced
-1 garlic clove, minced
-Pinch ground coriander
-Pinch saffron
-1 tbsp oil
-1/2 cup coconut milk
-1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper

1. Toss the shrimp with lemongrass, shallot, ginger, spices, and oil.
2. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
3. Remove shrimp and cook lemongrass mixture over low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk, salt, and pepper.
4. Increase heat and add shrimp. Simmer for about 3 minutes.

Bang Bang Chicken (far right)


-4 tbsp peanut butter
-1 garlic clove, crushed
-2-inch piece of ginger, chopped
-2 tbsp lemon juice
-1 tbsp dark soy sauce
-1/2 tsp hot sauce
-1 chicken breast
-Pie shell pastry cups
-Sesame seeds for topping
-Scallions, sliced on the diagonal

1. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over low heat until you can smell them (~3 minutes).
2. Mix sauce ingredients together.
3. Poach the chicken (simmer for about 7-10 minutes over low heat), then turn off heat and let sit for about 5 minutes. Cut into tiny but still chewable pieces.
4. Place a small amount of sauce in each tart. Arrange chicken pieces on top, and garnish with sesame seeds and scallion.

Curried Coconut Chicken Sticks (skewer farthest from sauce)


-1 chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
-2 lemongrass stalks
-1/2 tbsp curry powder
-2 garlic cloves, chopped
-1-inch piece of ginger, chopped
-1 shallot, chopped
-1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
-2 tbsp fish sauce
-1/4 cup canned coconut milk
-1/2 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp black pepper
-Wooden skewers, presoaked in cold water

1. Marinade everything up to 1 day in advance.
2. Skewer and cook on a grill or under a broiler. 

Lemon and saffron chicken brochettes


-1 chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
-1 pinch saffron
-1/4 onion, chopped
-Zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
-2 tbsp olive oil
-Salt and black pepper
-Wooden skewers, presoaked in cold water

1. Marinade everything until to 1 day in advance. Skewer and cook on the barbie or under the broiler.

Thai Chicken and lemongrass with cucumber dipping sauce


-1 chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
-1 garlic clove, chopped
-1 red chili, seeded and chopped
-1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
-1/2 tsp brown sugar
-1/2 tsp salt
-Cucumber sauce (see below)

1. Mix everything together (except sauce) and marinate up to 12 hours in advance.
2. Skewer and grill or cook under a broiler.

Cucumber dipping sauce


-1/4 cup rice vinegar
-1/3 cup sugar
-1 garlic clove, chopped
-1 red chili, seeded and chopped
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/8 cucumber, seeded and diced
-1/2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

1. Mix!

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