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Holiday Party 2006

07-Jan-2007

 

I had my annual holiday party a bit later than normal this year but I think I really like the timing and this may be my new schedule.  I generally try to do the party during the week right before folks leave for Christmas travel – normally on a Wednesday or Thursday night, which has seemed to work pretty well.  If you’ve read this blog for anytime at all you know this has been an event that has been going of for years in one way or another. 

This year though I was just feeling like the days were running into each other and since I was in Oregon for my family’s celebration the weekend of the 16th and 17th rushing back home to throw a party together didn’t feel like a hugely festive thing to do.  So instead I had the party the Friday between Christmas and New Year’s and I loved it!  About thirty five people showed up – that’s a pretty good number for my house, although if more people had shown up we would gladly have welcomed them in. 
 
One of the things I love about my house is that although it’s small it has some great features, like two fireplaces!  So with fires burning in both, tons of candles throughout the house and luminaria lining the front walk I think it set a welcoming and warm scene – an important thing when planning a winter party!
 
And I was very good this year in that I was actually ready and waiting for people to arrive!  There were a few things that needed to be popped in the oven at the last minute – stuffed mushrooms, gougere, warmed Brie and crostini – but those are all low-fuss items that allowed me to really participate in the party from start to finish. 
 
My menu was a mixture of old and new – I was actually expecting to hear some complaints from folks about some things that were "missing" from the menu but I think a couple of the new things were so well accepted that no one noticed that some of the normal favorites were missing.  For a legible version of the menu, just click on it. 
 
 

 
The big hit this year was the Gorgonzola Crostini (recipe at the end of the post).  I adapted them from a Giada DeLaurentiis recipe and they were yummy!  The tangy, almost spicy, blue cheese was complemented perfectly with toasted walnuts and then there was a bit of a surprise when you hit the sweetness of the honey – sweet, salty and tangy.  Perfect!  Unfortunately it’s one of the only things I didn’t manage to get a photo of but they pretty much look like any other crostini! 
 
The Crab Lemongrass Tartlets were a bit of a disappointment.  R made these for our Asian Fusion dinner club meeting and we loved them!  I decided to make them in a miniature size and they were okay but it was almost as if the crust overpowered the taste of the tartlet in this smaller size.  I might have to work on that one as I still like the idea. 
 
The Turkey Tea Sandwiches, which I’ve made for a number of years now, were exceptionally good this year.  The big change was that I was able to slice the bread thinner than previous years, I think.  And, for the fun of it, I used dried cranberries in place of raisins in the bread.  They were good.   
 
I don’t really think there were any duds – other than the little problem with the tartlets.  After everyone had gathered their belongings and gone home I gathered a couple of the remaining items, a glass of champagne and sat down in front of the fire to reflect on the night, all my wonderful friends and the coming new year.  It was a good night! 
 

     
 
 

Crostini with Gorgonzola, Honey and Walnuts

  • Olive oil
  • One long baguette sliced into 1/3" slices (cut on diagonal) – about 30 slices
  • 8 oz creamy Gorgonzola, coarsely crumbled and at room temperature
  • 2/3 – 1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • Approximately 3 Tbsp honey

Brush the baguette slices with oil and broil on one side until golden. (Can be made ahead and stored in airtight container.)

Mix Gorgonzola with walnuts in a small bowl, smooshing the cheese until the nuts are incorporated. Spread the mixture on the baguette slices. Put in pre-heated 375°F oven and bake for about 8 minutes or until cheese melts.

When there is just a minute or so left, put the honey in a microwave safe container and microwave on high for 10 to 20 seconds – just long enough to make it easy to drizzle.

Arrange the crostini on a platter, then drizzle with honey.

 

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