December 7: Midday Fix - Party Planning

Paul McCullough

Paul's Tips:

Especially during holidays, plan your parties to keep prep work minimal but the presentation impressive.

Plan menu with mix of make-ahead and fresh prep recipes

Instead of a full bar, which can be time consuming and expensive, decide on a signature cocktail to serve in addition to standard party options (beer, wine, soda, water)

Try to plan beverage offerings so guests can easily serve themselves

Don’t be afraid to take some short-cuts with menu, think of some simple home-made compliments to dishes or desserts that can add special touch when it’s not totally from scratch

Make sure your menu doesn’t keep you in the kitchen all night


Baked Brie and Apple

2 pkgs Athens Mini Fillo Shells
1.5 lb Brie
1 Granny Smith apple cut into pieces
1 Fuji apple cut into pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Fresh parsley for garnish

Cut Brie into small pieces and fill fillo shell. Add a piece of the green and red apple and a couple cranberries. Place on a cookie sheet and warm in a 350 oven for about 5 minutes until Brie is soft but not runny. Remove from over, top with small parsley sprig and serve

Mini Chicken Waldorf Salad

1 fully cooked chicken breast, shredded
1/2 cup chopped, slightly toasted walnuts
1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced and chopped
1/2 cup red seedless grapes, sliced
1 sweet apple, cored and chopped
3 Tbs mayonnaise
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
2 pkgs Athens Mini Fillo Shells
pomegranate seeds

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise (or can substitute plain yogurt) and the lemon juice. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. Mix remaining ingredients together in bowl.  Spoon into fillo shells. Finish off with pomegranate seeds and serve.

Nutty Lemon Martini

1 oz. Frangelico
1.oz. Vodka
splash of club soda (more or less to taste)
1/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
lemon for twist

Combine all ingredients in martini shaker, squeeze about 1/4 ounce lemon into shaker (remove seeds first). Shake with ice and serve straight up with lemon twist.

Chocolate Espresso Ganache

3 cups dark chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 espresso shots
Fruit to serve with (Pint of raspberries, orange segments etc)

Place chocolate chips in a bowl. Bring cream to a boil and pour over chips. Prepare 2 shots of espresso and pour in over chips. Let stand a minute then mix well.  Serve with raspberries and orange segments.

Hazelnut Coffee
6-8 oz Freshly brewed coffee
1 oz. Frangelico
Whipped Cream
Shaved Chocolate

Brew coffee (ideally fresh from whole beans), Stir in one ounce hazelnut liqueur.  Garnish with whipped cream and shaved chocolate.