Party Food

I promised a post about my Christmas party and here we go!  The party was a few days ago.  Now I’m fully recovered and so is the kitchen.  The thing about an open house type party where you’re not hiring staff to help is to serve things that: can be made ahead; can be set out in quantity so you don’t have to refill trays very often; can be eaten without utensils; and ideally don’t have to be heated.  You’re trying to make things as easy as possible for yourself and your guests.

So, here’s the menu:  lemon herb pork loin, a trio of pimento cheeses (smoked paprika, olive and jalapeno), hummus and vegetables, crab dip, cheese straws, tea cakes, brownies, ginger snaps, pumpkin roll and marshmallow holly.  The sweets, other than the brownies, can be made a week or more ahead of time.  They all freeze.  I did the pimento cheeses and the crab dip a day ahead to give the flavors a chance to develop.  That only left the roast pork loin for party day.  I served it at room temperature so I didn’t have to worry about the timing of the cooking or a chafing dish. (Weirdly I took the photo while the pork loin was still in the kitchen.  The sauces you see are a chipotle barbeque, honey mustard and dijonnaise).

The party was a success!  The house was full, the food was good and the bar was stocked.  All good.  Next time I’ll just have to ask folks not to bring hostess gifts.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s so thoughtful and I got some lovely things.  But now I have 10 bottles of wine that need a home.  Maybe I’ll have a “Drink the Hostess Gift” party!

Here are a couple of recipes to get you started on your next party.

Cheese Straws

A few notes on these. Set the butter out the night before so it’s really soft. Dont’ try to microwave it. Inevitably you’ll end up with a runny mess. Get the cheese in blocks and grate it yourself. Pre-grated cheese has something in it to keep it from sticking together so it doesn’t cream as smoothly as cheese you grate yourself. If you have a shredder disk on your food processor use that. It will be much faster. If you want these to be a little spicy feel free to add some cayenne pepper or some tabasco to the batter. This recipe makes a ton so freeze whatever you don’t need in a week or two.

Ingredients

1 lb butter, at room temperature
1 lb cheese, at room temperature, grated
4 C flour
paprika (optional)

Directions

Put butter and grated cheese in a food processor and process until mixture is completely smooth with no visible bits of cheese. Put dough in a cookie press. Press onto cookie sheets. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 400-425 for 10-12 minutes. Do not brown. To test for doneness break one open. If there is dark dough in the middle bake a little longer. Cool on racks. Store in airtight containers.

Lemon Herb Pork Loin

Ingredients

1 boneless pork roast, 4-5 lbs
8-10 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 T dried thyme
2 T dried oregano
1 T kosher salt
1 T olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. cut 1/2 inch slits on all sides of the pork. Insert garlic cloves into the slits. Combine remaining ingredients into a paste. Rub over the roast. Bake until meat thermometer registers 165. Let rest 15 minutes before slicing.

Holly

This is a treat I’ve loved since I was tee tiny. It makes beautiful garnishes for party trays and tastes yummy too!
Just make a recipe of rice krispie treats, but use corm flakes instead of rice krispies and add green food coloring to the melted marshmallows and stick red hots on top.

It helps if you have two pairs of hands when you make these. You have to work quickly. Use 2 spoons to drop the corn flake mix onto wax paper. Have the second person add the red hots. You have to get the red hots on while the marshmallows are still warm or they won’t stick. Little hands are really good at red hot duty so if you have little helpers this is a good job for them.

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