Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cocktails and Hors D'Oeuvres

This whole planning a wedding, writing a blog, and working a full time job thing has got me somewhat harried as of late. I recently learned about how the human brain can only accommodate seven things at once - so there is a scientific reason why my brain feels full to bursting at the moment. I have more than seven things on my to do list by the time I wake up in the morning!

That's why my plan to entertain a few friends snuck up on me. Suddenly it was Thursday and I had no groceries and no real plan of action. After frantic scouring of Epicurious, Food & Wine, Food Network, and a bevy of cookbooks, I landed on a few dishes I felt I could pull off last minute.

I edited down my list of options (published here) and landed on this menu:

Pizza Bites
Baked Feta with Marinara
Fig and Goat Cheese Crostini (I cheated and bought ready-made fig jam)
Sausage and Cheese Balls
Mascarpone stuffed dates
Charcuterie plate of prosciutto, five kinds of cheese, grapes, plum membrillo and dried apricots
White bean dip
Rosemary walnuts
Melon and Prosecco Cocktails

Alas, nothing this complicated can go completely smoothly. First, we couldn't find a cookie cutter at the three different grocery stores we checked (seriously, shouldn't someone carry something as simple as that?), so my adorable idea of little individual round pizzas had to be compromised for boring ol' square slices.

And despite the recipe saying that two melons yields only eight cocktails, we found two melons to yield more juice than we could even hold in a pitcher, so we were stuck with way too much melon for a tiny apartment. Fortunately cantaloupe juice is refreshing when combined with Perrier, so it's still holding up OK as a leftover and we were able to pawn off our excess 'loupe on my family.

Last, despite Mr. AT's assurances that putting the sausage and cheese balls and the marinara and feta in the oven at the same time wouldn't take any longer to cook, it turns out that the laws of science do not agree. In fact, I had to bake those suckers forever - well past the arrival of my friends. Next time it would make much more since to stagger them and just reheat when people arrive.

Despite all of these speed-bumps, the evening was a success. As usual, no one ate as much as I'd hoped, but generally people seemed to like the food and at least put a dent in each dish. Now, just two days later, we have virtually no more left overs, so I suppose that's a good sign.

The big hits of the night seemed to be the sausage and cheese balls (for all my efforts to find fancy options, this one was Betty Crocker, recipe courtesy of my generous logo designer Mary Campbell) served along a sriracha mayo my little sister whipped up, the melon cocktails that went down oh so easy, and my tried and true dessert mascarpone stuffed dates. As for the latter, I was amazed to find how many people look at a date with such trepidation. Date-phobics, you know who you are - there really is no need for you to look at me like I'm trying to poison you. I promise dates are super delicious, candy-like little gems, and I wouldn't serve them if I didn't think they were awesome.

Now that Mr. AT and I have broken the seal on entertaining, perhaps we can even motivate to do it again. I have a much better idea now of how to pull off a few easy appetizers, and maybe next time, I can even find time to eat some of them myself!



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