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Housewarming Party = Cheat Day

November 19, 2010

A few weeks ago, our family and friends were kind enough to make the trek from the West (my side in Hamilton/Ancaster) and the East (Keith’s side in Ajax/Pickering) to “warm” our new “house”…literally.  At one point we had close to 60 people crammed on our main floor.   The East folks and West folks were shoulder to shoulder and had no choice but to mingle.  Good thing everyone got along just fine:)

My mother and I spent the 24 hours prior grocery shopping and prepping the menu for our housewarming event.   Around 2 o’clock we finally found time to clean ourselves up and snap a quick photo before the guests rolled on in.

Getting the food right was my top priority.  After all, the folks who visited that afternoon deserved a decent spread of nibbles to compensate for (and distract them from) the cramped and uncomfortably warm space.   Here are a few items that were on the menu which got a thumbs up from the crowd:

Cheese Platter

No recipe for this one.  Just a simple display of cheese, nuts, grapes and dried fruit.  You can tell a few people got into this before I took the photo (noticed the half eaten marble cheese). 

Curried Shrimp

If there was a ranking scale from 1 to 10 I would safely bet that everyone  who stuck around long enough to try this would have given it a strong 9/10.  Good thing I doubled this Martha Stewart recipe.  The platter of shrimp was still devoured in no time which proves it was a winner (or maybe people were just really hungry).  Hmm…

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 olive oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp course sea salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 lb large raw shrimp (about 25-30 pieces), peeled, deveined, and the tail section left on
  • Mango chutney for dipping

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine olive oil, salt, sugar, curry powder, and paprika. 
  2. Add shrimp; toss until well coated. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour (I marinated for 3 hours).
  3. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Place shrimp on grill pan, and grill for 2 minutes on each side. OR Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Then place shrimp on a baking sheet in oven for 15 minutes (or under cooked through).
  4. Transfer to a platter; serve with chutney.

Smoked Salmon Pizzettes 

This was my mom’s contribution which also went over VERY well.   I personally avoid any recipe that requires making or baking dough. It just sounds complicated and intimidates me.  So instead I observed my mom while she baked these perfect pizzettes the morning of the party and she proved me wrong.  They were error-proof so it seemed.  

Being made with white flour (and not gluten-free friendly) should have encouraged me to steer clear of this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis but they were just too cute to resist tasting one.   Plus, not having tried them would have disappointed my poor mom who slaved over this dish for her daughter:)  Alas, my “cheat day” begins…

Ingredients:

  • Flour for work surface
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • 1 (8-ounce) ball purchased pizza dough
  • 1/4 mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 sour cream
  • 2 tbsp capers, rinsed, drained, coarsely chopped and dried on paper towels
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 ounces of smoked salmon, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 1/4 chopped chives

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F with rack in centre.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pizza dough into a 1/4-inch thick round.
  3. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter (or shot glass), cut out 15 circles.
  4. Arrange the circles on a heavy baking sheet using the tines of a fork, prick the dough all over.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil and bake until golden brown, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.
  6. In a small bowl, mix together the mascarpone cheese, sour cream and capers until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  7. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of the mascarpone mixture into the center of each round. Top with a piece of smoked salmon and press gently.
  8. Arrange the pizzettes on a platter and sprinkle with chopped chives just before serving

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

This was my last-minute creation when I decided I needed something to call my own on the table that afternoon.  I needed something simple and safe.  There was no time for screw ups.  I tried something similar to this years ago at the annual “Girlie Christmas” with my university girlfriends (an event we host every year which involves eating, board games, eating, drinks, and then more eating).   This was one of the potluck appetizers that stood out and I have been meaning to give them roll (no pun intended).  

Ingredients:

  • 40 asparagus (or as many as you need)
  • 40 slices of prosciutto (equal to the number of asparagus)
  • Package of boursin cheese

Directions:

  1. Lay prosciutto on a flat surface.
  2. Spread 1/2 tablespoon of the cheese across the meat.
  3. Place a piece of asparagus diagonally on the prosciutto (so that when you start rolling the prosciutto covers most of the asparagus stalk (leave the tops open). 
  4. Place wrapped asparagus on a plate or tray.

And now I save the best for last.  Two of our guests contributed to our spread of food with these two (very opposite, yet tasty) snacks.

Ful (Fava Bean) Dip

My aunt Lana often makes this fabulous arabic dip when we go over to visit.  I make sure to position myself nice and close to it for easy access.  She offered to make it for my housewarming and I wasn’t about to turn her down.  I’ll have to get the recipe but I’ll tell you what I do know for now (that’s the ingredients without the measurements below).   I’ll admit that the photo doesn’t do anything for the appetite (kind of looks disgusting actually) but it is far from reality.  Looked much better before the dipping began. 

Ingredients:

  • Fava beans
  • Garlic
  • Lemon
  • Olive oil

Housewarming Cupcakes

The main ingredients here were TLC and creativity, care of Keith’s cousin Catherine.   She is one hell of a baker let me tell you, but she wowed us with these super cute cupcakes.  Each was homemade and decorated with either a key, bed, lamp, spoon or sink.  They looked so good we felt guilty eating them (although, the guilt was short-lived).   Unfortunately no recipe for these beauties.  Maybe Catherine will see this post and share her baking secret.

There were a few other items on the menu but I won’t bore you with fruit and veggie trays.  You’ve got some of the best recipes right here and you’re all set for your very own housewarming…now you just need to buy a new place.

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