Sure, I did post a couple of recipes in advance that turned out to be superstars on the buffet table – Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Kale, Cranberries and Toasted Hazelnuts; and Cappuccino Brownies.
These are worth a second look and a test drive in your own kitchen. The brownies couldn’t be easier and the cinnamon brings a welcome surprise. The salad takes a bit of work to chop the sprouts and kale but the make-ahead deliciousness is all worth it.
Now that the party is over and done and a good time was had by all, I’m going to share a few posts with menu highlights, recipes and party planning tips. After the fact is better than not at all, right?! Keep reading for more of the story, pix, tunes and recipes.
Tip #1 – I’m a big fan of “make some, buy some” – not everything on the table needs to be homemade. Sourcing well is a talent too, you know. The appetizer category is a prime example of this. Over the years more and more real estate on my buffet table has been dedicated to the cheese plate/ charcuterie/relish tray/veggies & dip. All good stuff, and very little of it requires much attention from the party host. There’s still room for kitchen wizardry with the dip, and plating provides a chance for visual creativity too.
There are many useful guides for preparing a great cheese board – here are a couple for your reference.
These super-easy Antipasti Skewers were a big hit, largely because they look so pretty. I made a few changes, such as marinating the mozzarella balls in herb-infused olive oil the night before, and swapping baby spinach leaves for parsley (easier to work with when assembling in large quantities). We also used jalapeno-stuffed olives, which added a nice little zing.
This Savory Onion-Miso-Tofu Dip was a winner, especially after I did some fiddling with the ratio of ingredients. Basically I doubled the quantity of everything except the tofu – so onions, garlic, sherry, herbs and spices. I also used the max recommended amount of miso. One guest described the dip as a flavor bomb, and he had a big ol’ grin on his face when he said it. That’s a big win in my book!
Click the photos to enlarge them and read the captions.
|Printable Recipe- Savory Caramelized Onion-Miso-Tofu Dip|
|File Size:||672 kb|
Adapted from recipe source: The Kitchn
- 2 large (softball-sized) onions
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 4 whole cloves of garlic
- generous pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup of sherry (or dry white wine)
- 2 teaspoons each dried oregano, sage, thyme, basil
- 1 teaspoon each dried rosemary, fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon each nutmeg and ground pepper
- 12 ounces firm tofu
- 1-3 tablespoons miso Cook’s Note: You can use light (white or yellow) miso or dark (red) miso, but you may need less of it if you use dark/red miso. Start with 1 tbsp and add more to taste.
- Good olive oil for drizzling (optional but recommended)
- Smoked paprika for dusting (optional but recommended)
- Slice the onion into thin half-moons and sauté gently in a large frying pan with the olive oil over low heat. It will take a long time (30 minutes+) to caramelize the onions, so keep the heat low and stir on occasion.
- While the onions are cooking, thinly slice the garlic and assemble the rest of the ingredients. The herbs and spices can all be measured into a small bowl, as they all will be added at the same time.
- When the onions are almost done (meaning light to medium brown in color), add the garlic and stir. You want to soften the garlic at this stage but not color it too much. When the garlic is soft and fragrant and the onions are done (about 5 minutes more), add the spices and stir for about a minute.
- Add the sherry and deglaze the pan. Cook until most of the liquid is evaporated. Turn off the heat. Put the onion mixture into a food processor or blender along with the 1 tablespoon of the miso, the tofu and a splash of water. Blitz until the mixture is smooth and creamy. You may need to add a splash more water, depending on how firm your tofu is.
- Taste for seasonings. Add more miso if needed (see notes) and blitz again.
- Spoon into a bowl and using the back of the spoon, make a swirly indent in the dip. Drizzle on the olive oil and dust sparingly with the smoked paprika.
- Serve as a dip for fresh vegetables or as a spread for bread or crackers.
Yield: about two cups
Please share your tips for time management during party prep or the busy holiday season. I, for one, welcome all the help I can get!