Dec 5, 2012

What’s on the Menu?

As you begin thinking about what you will be serving at your Chanukah party you may feel a bit overwhelmed at the thought of having to turn out tons of piping hot food, freshly fried latkes and sizzling doughnuts straight out of the pot.  Our suggestion? Choose a variety of dishes according to when they can be prepped. Go for appetizers that can be done two to three days earlier; desserts that are purchased or frozen. Casseroles that can be assembled and refrigerated for a day then simply popped into the oven while your guests are enjoying the appetizers work beautifully. You might choose one item—like the latkes that require last minute stove time—so you can enjoy your party without feeling too frazzled.  
Here are some tasty suggestions for your menu:

For the dip:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
1 shallot, diced
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon wasabi powder
4 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon, coarsely chopped, divided
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, checked and chopped

For the bagel chips:
2 large everything bagels
4 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons olive oil
½  teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½  teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper ( or more to taste)

Prepare dip:
In a food processor, combine mayonnaise, cream cheese, capers, red onion, lemon juice, horseradish, and 2 ounces smoked salmon. Process until smooth, about 20 seconds. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in remaining 2 ounces smoked salmon. Top with fresh parsley and serve with bagel chips. Dip can be prepared 2-3 days and refrigerated until needed.

Prepare the chips:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Slice bagels into thin discs. In a small pot, melt butter with olive oil. Add butter and olive oil to a cookie sheet or jellyroll pan.  Tip and rotate baking dish until entire bottom is coated with butter and oil.
Place bagel slices in the pan, press down, flip and repeat. Transfer soaked bagel slices to a baking sheet.
In a small bowl, mix spices and sprinkle over bagel slices.
Bake for 5 minutes. Flip slices. Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until desired crispness is reached.
Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

2 tablespoons canola oil
4 small onions, chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Assorted raw vegetables for serving—baby carrots, sliced cucumbers, small red radishes, fresh mushrooms and grape tomatoes

Over medium heat, heat oil in a heavy-bottom pan or Dutch oven. Add onions and shallot. Let cook until onions are very soft and caramel in color, 45 to 60 minutes.
Add vinegar and thyme; let cook until slightly reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add cooled onions and stir to combine. Transfer to refrigerator to chill at least 2 hours and up to 2 weeks; serve with raw vegetables, flatbreads, or crackers.

This recipe can be done partially in advance do there’s not much left to do just before your guests arrive. Prepare the eggplant and the tomato and garlic sauce the day before your party. Just before your guest arrive cook the pasta and continue the recipe from there—it will be a breeze and your guests will be wowed by this tasty dish.

1 head garlic, outer papery skin removed
2 tablespoons light olive oil
2 medium eggplants, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon each oregano & basil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 medium tomatoes, peeled & diced
12 ounces small pasta like shells or bowties
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, checked and chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

 Cut 1 inch off the top of the garlic head and place the whole bulb in a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with oil and close foil over the bulb.  Bake 1 hour in a 350 degree oven. 
 In a medium bowl, combine eggplant, vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, oregano, basil, and pepper. Mix thoroughly and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Remove garlic from the oven and turn up the heat to 400 degrees.  Place eggplant mixture and the marinade in a baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Remove from oven. 
Separate roasted garlic cloves, squeeze garlic into a dish and set aside. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan.   Add tomatoes and sauté for 10 minutes.  Stir in roasted garlic then remove from heat. 
In a 4 quart pot, bring water to and boil and cook pasta 10-12 minutes.   Drain pasta and toss with roasted eggplant*. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Cover cheese with tomato and garlic sauce mixture and sprinkle with parsley. Top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
*if you prepped your vegetables in advance, remove them from the refrigerator and let them come back to room temperature.

Wishing you an enjoyable, tasty and relaxed Chanukah!

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