Malcolm McDowell Woods

Pantry raid! It’s party time, and we know how to make it easy.

By - Dec 3rd, 2009 09:20 am
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Pantry Raiders Diana Sieger and Carrie Rowe know how to make the holidays oh-so-simple.

Pantry Raiders Diana Sieger and Carrie Rowe know how to make the holidays simple.

There’s a party in our pantries! We’ve been getting gussied up to host parties since Carrie was six, entertaining chickens, and Diana was four, serving tea to 30 stuffed animals.

Our guest list has changed a bit over the years and it may take a little more time for us to gussy ourselves, but our golden rule for hosting remains the same: hang out with your guests. Our parties let us do that because we choose appetizers that are quick and easy to prepare. Sounds like a bag of chips and a bowl of dip, doesn’t it? Sure, that’s included in our repertoire, but if we’re putting on makeup we’re going to offer up something a little more fancy for our guests — and that goes for chickens, stuffed animals or even actual humans.

We try to balance our offerings with “dump and serve” edibles and appetizers that showcase our (minimal) culinary prowess. This shaves the to-do list down to something even we can manage.

Speaking of lists, lists and a little bit of math play an essential role in being a hostess with the mostest. Once you have a head count, your party plans will take shape as you jot down how much and what food to offer, what drinks to serve and in which room the magic will take place.

For a three-hour party for 12, a good spread providing about a dozen snacks per guest might include: a vegetable tray with a couple of dips from the co-op, crackers and a cheese tray with fresh fruit and nuts (three cheeses, grapes and an assortment of dried fruit and nuts), the standard bowl of tortilla chips (pita if you’re feeling fancy) with hummus and salsa and finally — the pièce de résistance — four hors d’oeuvre trays with 25-30 nibbles on each. Those nibbles should keep everyone well fed and keep you out of the kitchen. As for liquid cheer, if you’re serving punch or cider, one gallon will serve 10 people, and if adult beverages will be poured, three per person is a smart amount to stock.

It’s not unlike us to work on party prep all the way up until the first guest grabs a cocktail. Every minute of prep work leaves us that many more minutes to enjoy the company we’ve invited into our homes, making it worth the time and stress it put on our day. If that much fussing makes you reach for a PBR at noon, we’ve still got something for you — a list of 10 items to keep on hand for truly instant entertaining. And by that we mean: Stop at Outpost, unwrap, serve and enjoy, leaving even more time for getting gussied up to mingle.

Mini Salmon Cakes with Tzatziki Sauce

Hilariously enough, we have all these ingredients in our pantries on a regular basis (maybe not Panko bread crumbs specifically, but we can improvise). These can most certainly be made ahead of time and popped in the oven at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes – or even brought to room temperature before serving.
Makes 20 Appetizers
2 cans salmon, boneless/skinless
3 stalks celery, finely diced (about ¾ cup)
1 small onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon drained pickle relish (or chopped pickles)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon paprika
¾ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 dashes hot sauce
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
4 tablespoons canola oil

For the Lemon-y Tzatziki Sauce:
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 cucumber
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice (use the same lemon from above)
1 clove garlic
Pepper
1. Crack open the salmon cans and empty the salmon into a small colander to drain. Flake the salmon in the colander, and then transfer to a medium bowl. Combine chopped celery and onion with the salmon in the bowl. Salt and pepper to taste, and fold together gently with a rubber spatula.
2. In a small bowl, combine mayo, mustard, relish, lemon juice, Worcestershire, paprika and hot sauce, then gently fold into salmon mixture.
3. In same small bowl, crack open one egg. Whisk vigorously, and then gently fold into salmon mixture along with ½ cup Panko.
4. Pour out another ½ cup Panko onto a plate. Using a spoon, pick up a small palmful of salmon mixture, and roll it gently between your hands to form a ball shape. Try not to over handle the fish.
5. Put the ball down onto the plate, and gently flatten to form a patty shape, about 1 1/2  inches across. Gently flip over to coat the other side with Panko. Transfer to a flat-bottomed dish. Repeat until you’ve used all the salmon mixture, creating approximately 20 patties. Transfer to fridge to chill for about an hour and move on to making the tzatziki sauce.
6. Remove chilled cakes from fridge. Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in non-stick skillet. Carefully transfer cakes to skillet. Be sure not to crowd them in the pan, give them some elbow room. Let them cook about 2 minutes, then carefully flip with spatula and continue cooking about another minute longer. Transfer to paper-towel lined plate to drain. Serve garnished with the tzatziki.

Tzatziki Sauce:
1. Seed cucumber and dice finely, mince the garlic.
2. Combine all ingredients in bowl and put in fridge to chill to allow flavors to blend until ready to serve.
3. Any leftovers are delicious with pita bread, carrot sticks or even tortilla chips.

Incredibly Simple Chevré-stuffed Mushrooms
Let’s face it, chevré-stuffed anything is delicious and festive. Because there are only a few ingredients for this, crimini mushrooms work better than white button for their super-mushroom flavor. Throw some chopped parsley at this tray (edible confetti) before sauntering out to greet your guests.
Makes 24 appetizers:
24 large crimini mushrooms, stems discarded
¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, plus one 3-inch sprig of rosemary
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 ounces fresh goat cheese, cut into 24 pieces
3 tablespoons bread crumbs (fresh work best)

1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a bowl, toss the mushrooms with 3 tablespoons of the oil and the rosemary leaves and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mushrooms to a baking sheet, rounded side up. Roast for about 30 minutes, until tender and browned around the edges. Let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
2. In a skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the rosemary sprig and cook over moderately high heat until the leaves are crisp, 30 seconds. Drain on paper towels, and then strip off the leaves. Pour off all but one teaspoon of the rosemary oil and reserve it for another use.
3. Add the bread crumbs to the skillet and toast over moderate heat until golden and crisp, 2 minutes. Stir in the fried rosemary leaves and season with salt and pepper.
Gently press a piece of goat cheese in the center of each mushroom, sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and join your guests for cocktails.

Smoked Oyster Pâté
We have served this unexpectedly delicious and super simple hors d’oeuvre time and time again to the joyous cheers of our party guests. Well, maybe the cider and whiskey had something to do with the cheering, too. But seriously, this is simple to whip up in your food processor or blender and uses ingredients that are easy to keep on hand. And that’s what raiding your pantry is all about. Thanks to our friends at Crown Prince for the recipe. You can also double the recipe and store any extra in the fridge for two to three days — you never know when hungry people will show up on your doorstep.
Serves a party of 12
1 can smoked oysters, drained
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons mayo
1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Dash of garlic salt
Dash of hot sauce

1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until creamy and well combined.
2. Serve with toasted French baguette slices or your favorite cracker. We love Mr. Krispers gluten free snack crackers. They are light, crispy and about the size of a poker chip — perfectly bite-sized and a great way to avoid any pesky double-dipping!

10 Truly Instant Party Foods
1. Pick out a pretty little plate, unwrap one package of cream cheese, take one jar of Tomato Mountain Sungold preserves and pour over the top of the cream cheese. Serve with crackers. Fancy looking, delicious tasting!
2. Buy two packages of Outpost’s Kung Pao Tofu and one red pepper. Cut the red pepper into little squares and skewer onto toothpicks with a cube or two of Kung Pao Tofu. There will be leftover yummy sauce in the tofu container, which you can pour over the skewers before arranging them on a tray.
3. Cut about 12 plump, dry figs in half, mix together a combination of cream cheese and gorgonzola and fill each fig half with the cheese mixture. Top with half a toasted pecan pressed into the middle of each piece.
4. Portable Caprese: Combine one package of small fresh mozzarella balls, one bag of fresh basil (remove stems) and one package of grape tomatoes in a bowl. Drizzle with good olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
5.  Cheese. Any Wisconsin hostess worthy of being the mostest will have a couple of types of cheese in the fridge. We typically have one fancy (Sartori Bellavatano, for instance) and one familiar cheese (mmm, Buffalo Wing Cheddar) on hand around the holidays.
6. A couple of tubs of olives seems like a classy option for spontaneous mirth and merriment.
7. Smoked oysters and/or pickled herring! No? Just us? They’re very sophisticated when served on fancy crackers. We’re also partial to Weinke’s Market pickled vegetables when pickled herring doesn’t seem appropriate.
8. Mini sandwiches on a sliced baguette. Even the most mundane sandwich fixings seem fancy when served in mini form. Slice the baguette down the center (lengthwise), fill with sandwichy things and slice into 2 inch pieces kept together with a toothpick.
9. The combination of Outpost dips and Lefse or tortillas makes for some impressive pinwheel hors d’oeuvres. Spread the dip across the entire Lefse or tortilla, roll up and cut with a serrated knife.
10. Nate’s (Meatless) Meatballs are quickly dressed for a party with a bottle of barbeque sauce and a 15-minute simmer in a saucepan.

Diana Sieger & Carrie Rowe

Categories: Uncategorized

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