Nothing signals the holidays like entertaining a crowd. However, how do you mix adult cocktail fair with kid friendly bites? Here are a few of my favourite ‘double-duty’ holiday items that appeal to sophisticated adult palettes and satisfy the young, not so adventurous ones too.
DROP-IN GUESTS: A tried and true cheese ball
FOR THE ADULTS: A simple cheddar based cheese ball rolled in toasted walnuts and served with artisan crisps
FOR THE KIDS: The same cheese ball made into marble size balls on GIANT goldfish crackers.
Cheddar Cheese Ball
makes approximately 65 mini cheese balls
1 8oz package cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
3 cups grated orange cheddar
1-2 green onions, slivered
1 box GIANT goldfish crackers
65 Black sesame seeds for eyes (optional)
In the bowl of a food processor mix all above ingredients to combine. Remove from food processor and form into mini cheese balls. Chill in refrigerator for 2 – 24 hours prior to serving.
DINNER PARTY: A One Dish Dinner.
FOR THE ADULTS:
A gourmet vegetarian lasagna with a green salad & a fresh baguette is easy to put together ahead of time and doesn’t require a lot of attention during the cooking process. I layer roasted red peppers and whole sautéed shitake mushrooms between fresh lasagna noodles with traditional cheeses.
The Salt & Pepper Catering Co. Lasagna
4 small leeks
2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
2 tsp of sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
Trim base and most of green parts of leeks. Cut in half lengthways and rinse thoroughly. Place leeks in a roasting dish drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt & cracked pepper. Cover roasting dish with aluminum foil and roast until tender. Approx. 35min at 300 degrees. Remove from oven, uncover & let cool.
Roasted Red Peppers
2 Red Peppers, washed, dried and left whole
Olive Oil to coat
Pinch of sea salt
Toss peppers with olive oil to coat. Add sea salt. Place in a roasting dish and bake for approx. 45min at 350 until soft and the skin is slightly charred. Remove from oven. Transfer to glass bowl. Cover bowl with cling film and allow the pepper to cool. When cool enough to touch, remove cling film and peel the skin off the pepper, discarding any seeds. Quarter each pepper and set aside.
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
6 fresh basil leaves, leave whole
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2x 400gr tins of Italian tomatoes (whole, product of Italy) crushed by hand.
Heat olive oil in a thick-bottomed pan over med-low heat and cook garlic until softened. Do not brown. Add the tomatoes and season. Cook over med-high heat for 15min. Stir constantly so that tomatoes do not stick to bottom of pan. Add basil, olive oil & re-season to taste.
1 1/2oz of unsalted butter
9 oz of shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, leave whole
2 TBSP of balsamic vinegar
pinch of sea salt
2 TBSP of olive oil
Melt butter in a frying pan. Add mushrooms, vinegar and sea salt. Cook over med-low heat, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are soft. Remove from heat and let cool.
375gr (12oz OR 8 sheet) of fresh lasagna noodles
1/4 cup torn basil leaves
1 1/2lb of fresh ricotta cheese
3 1/2oz of Reggiano Parmigiano, shaved
10oz of fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
dash of extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
Brush lasagna dish with olive oil. Ladle tomato sauce to coat the bottom of dish. Place a single layer of lasagna noodles in the bottom of the dish. Cover with 1/4 of the tomato sauce followed by the leeks and 1/2 the ricotta & parmigiano cheese. Top with lasagne noodles and repeat with the roasted peppers. Add a third layer of lasagna sheets and repeat with the mushrooms. Top with sliced mozzarella and shaved parmigiano. Cover with the last of the lasagna sheets. Top with a small spoonful of sauce and fresh basil leaf.
Bake covered for 50minutes at 350. Remove foil, increase heat to 450 and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
FOR THE KIDS:
PASTA RAGS: Take the left over, fresh, lasagna noodles and tear them into odd size, floppy shapes that are manageable for kids. Cook according to directions on the package and toss with butter & parmesan cheese.
COCKTAIL PARTY: SLIDERS are a huge crowd pleaser for all ages.
FOR THE ADULTS:
Dress sliders with your favourite artisnal cheese & home made aioli. At Salt & Pepper we serve our sliders with PEI clothbound cheddar and a chipotle aioli
The Salt & Pepper Catering Co. Slider
1 lb ground beef
1 tsp kosher salt
In a medium size mixing bowl, use your hands to incorporate kosher salt into meat. Form 2 ounce patties (I use a scale to measure). Sear sliders on both sides on BBQ or in grill pan. This step can be done a few hours prior to cooking. Let meat cool completely and refrigerate until you are ready to use.
Pre-heat oven to 400 degress.
Place sliders on parchment lined baking sheet. Cook for 6-8 minutes until desired doneness. Remove from oven. Serve on mini hamburger buns with chipotle aioli.
1 egg yolk
1 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup canola oil
Place first 4 ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Mix to combine. With motor running pour canola oil into mixing bowl in a slow and steady stream. You will see the mixture start to thicken. Once you have reached the consistency of mayonaise stop motor.
FOR THE KIDS:
Use the same sliders and top with kids’ favourite organic ketchup
Serve cheese balls on GIANT goldfish crackers with sesame seed eye