Story last updated at 11/20/2013 - 5:52 pm
The entertainment season is upon us. It started with Halloween and will go through the ultimate friend/family gathering, the Super Bowl. I love this season; primarily because I love party food. Party food is fun food. You get to eat lots of different things and try a few foods you may not ordinarily have the opportunity to eat. Best of all, everything is bite sized. That means you can eat three or four meatballs and not feel guilty, because well, you only had four bites, right? It’s all about perspective, wouldn’t you agree?
This past week, Grant and I had the pleasure of hosting my co-workers on the boat we are tending for the winter. It is a large tug boat and has a wonderfully cozy salon and kitchen area. I especially enjoy the full galley. It is so big that it really feels like living in a house. Albeit a house with very tiny bathrooms, but a house nonetheless.
Given that this was my first time hosting my colleagues, I wanted to do something special. We have occasional gatherings at the office, but this was in my home and my new boss would be attending. I wanted to impress.
As with most parties my guests brought dishes to share. I am always excited to taste others’ food and learn how they made them. Alex, my co-worker brought crostini topped with fresh pesto and asiago cheese. The lovely added finesse to the pesto was a touch of truffle oil. They were quickly toasted and served warm. They were also quickly devoured.
Making party foods is about timing. If you have a baked dessert, cook it first so that it can come to room temperature prior to your guests arrival. If you have cold foods, prepare them next so that they are ready to go when guests arrive. For the hot or warm served appetizers, prep everything about an hour prior to the planned arrival of your first guest. It is perfectly acceptable to present tasty treats warm from the oven. It’s also perfectly acceptable to serve things in courses. If you like to start with a cheese platter and a few cold items and then present warm dishes as they are ready, that works. It keeps the party moving along and appetites are whet for the next course.
I made Asian chicken wings with an Asian red pepper dipping sauce. They took about 30 minutes to cook and were able to cool a few minutes prior to serving. I thought this recipe would be the big hit of the evening, but I was completely mistaken.
The big party winner from my kitchen was the marinated olives. This recipe took about 20 minutes to prepare and 15 of those minutes were the pot simmering on the stove. Truly the easiest recipe I’ve ever made. As usual, nothing beats simplicity. I placed two cups of olives purchased from the olive bar at the grocery story into a cup or so of olive oil. I added roasted red peppers, whole garlic cloves and a pinch of red pepper flakes. I had a similar dish at a restaurant and I am pleased to say this one was equally delicious. I served the olives with ciabatta bread cubes, which were perfect for dipping into the marinade.
Between the olives, chicken, pesto crostini and other delicious appetizers, we had a feast. Of course the Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine, to toast the evening festivities was a fun touch as well. Friends and family gathering need not be a formal affair. A few fun appetizers, a chilled drink and the party is on!
This week I present a very easy recipe that can be altered to suit your tastes: Marinated Olives.
Until next time…
Eat and enjoy,
2 cups olive variety (non-stuffed)*
1 to 1½ cups extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup sliced roasted red bell pepper
4 whole cloves fresh garlic
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
Rinse brine from olives and place in medium sauce pan. Add olive oil until olives are almost covered, about a half-inch from top of olives. Add bell pepper, garlic and red pepper flakes, bring to a low heat. Oil should not boil or simmer rapidly. It is infusing the garlic and peppers into the olives. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes and remove from heat. Serve warm with ciabatta bread cubes or other hard crusty bread. Leftovers will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Simply warm up prior to serving.
*Pitted olives are fine, but nothing stuffed with cheese or other items. It will muddy the oil.
Kelly Moore, a.k.a. Midgi, writes and cooks from Juneau. Visit her blog, www.mealswithmidgi.com, for additional stories and recipes. She may be reached at midgi@