While I may not be the mom who cooks dinner every single night for my family, what I do quite well is entertain. From Thanksgiving, to Passover to birthday parties, to holiday barbecues, when it comes to festive occasions, I'm usually the one who nods her head and shrugs her shoulders when my husband has decided to invite 25 people over for a barbecue. The problem is, over the years, I have spent a bundle ordering pre-made items that I could have actually prepared myself!
Thanks to Chef Kim, of the Daymon Resource Center and her colleague Andrew Woltmann, I got the chance to sample a delectable gourmet spread of Private Brand food at the recent SVMoms blogger event held at Tribeca Cinemas in NYC. On the menu: stuffed small red potatoes topped with shrimp; beef tenderloin tartlets with plum sauce; mini Napoleons with eggplant cream, and spinach and feta mini soufflés, crudite with dip and baked brie with rosemary, almonds and cherries. And where did all these mouth watering items come from... Stop & Shop and Costco !
Plus, we were also treated to snacks provided by 7 Eleven . My personal fave: the chocolate covered pretzels, smoked almonds, and the Swiss trail mix - all easy and inexpensive items to add to any party menu!
So now that you know the inside secret on saving money this Memorial Day - here are Chef Kim's incredible recipes that'll knock the socks off all your guests...unless of course they're wearing sandals!
Baked Brie with Rosemary, Almond & Cherries
2 T chopped fresh rosemary
2 T chopped slivered almonds
2 T honey
1 brie cheese round
8 fresh cherries, pitted and chopped crackers (of your choice)
Preheat oven to 400F. In a small bowl, combine rosemary and almonds. With a pastry brush (or knife), coat the sides of the brie with honey and dip into rosemary-almond mixture, pressing. Place brie on a sheet pan. Brush the top with honey and sprinkle with the remaining herb mixture. Place in oven and bake 20 minutes. Remove brie from oven and top with chopped cherries. Bake an additional 5-10 minutes until brie is soft when cut. Serve with crackers.
Beef Tenderloin Tartlets w/Plum Sauce
12 slices of thin white bread
Butter or spray for mini-muffin pans
4 tbsp of chicken pate
1 tsp thyme
1/3 cup rare deli beef slices cut into small pieces
2 tbsp plum sauce
Remove the crust from the bread and roll out each slice very thin. Cut two 3-inch circles from each slice, press into prepared mini-muffin tins. Bake @ 370° for 7 minutes for until golden brown. ( Can be kept at room temp for 2 days)
Fill each baked tartlet with ½ tsp of chicken pate, sprinkle with dried thyme, drape with a small piece of beef tenderloin over the top and spoon on ¼ tsp of plum sauce.
Miniature Napoleons with Eggplant Crème
Yields: 12 Miniature Napoleons
4 Plum Tomatoes, sliced thickly (between 1/4″ and 1/2″)
1 Zucchini, sliced thickly
12 Cremini or Button Mushroom Caps, de-stemmed and brushed clean
Tamari or Soy Sauce
Parsley & Garlic Powder
2/3 Cup Raw
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Basil
Oregano & Garlic Powder
2ish Tbs Oil
Slice the tomatoes and zucchini and place them on baking sheet.
Spray or brush vegetables with oil to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and herbs. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the veggies almost look dehydrated.
Place the mushrooms on the same baking sheet, upside-down. Fill the centers with a little tamari, no more than 1 tsp.
Spray them thoroughly with spray-oil and bake for 30 minutes, or until tender, at 300º F. Remove and let cool with the other veggies.
While the vegetables are baking peel & cube the eggplant and place them on top of a towel or paper plate. You can microwave the eggplant on high for about 8 minutes, until the eggplant is soft and the paper towels or plate have absorbed a lot of the moisture this will prevent the eggplant from absorbing so much oil while cooking. Or just roast until most of the moisture is absorbed.
Sauté eggplant for 5-10 minutes over medium-high heat, until very soft and browned. Pure the eggplant with the salt, cashews, herbs and garlic and process for several minutes until VERY smooth. You may need to add a little liquid if you over prepared the eggplant. You can use heavy cream if you are not vegan or a little veggie stock. The texture should be smooth, not liquidy.
Season to taste, if needed, then place the eggplant crème in a piping bag or a plastic baggie with one of the corners cut off.
Pipe a little dab of eggplant crème on the plate where you want the napoleon to be. This will act as an anchor.
Place a tomato on top of the anchor, and pipe a small dab of eggplant crème on the top.
Add a slice of zucchini, then another layer of eggplant cream. Top with an upside-down mushroom cap, and place a dab of eggplant crème where the stem was.
For garnish, add a s basil-leaf crown. Put a thin layer of olive oil in the bottom of the dish, surrounding the napoleons and dribble a few drops of balsamic vinegar on the olive oil. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Stuffed Small Red Potatoes topped w/Shrimp
1 ½ lb Small red bliss potatoes, about 20
40 cooked shrimp, w/tails
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt & pepper to taste
½ c Cream Cheese
½ c Sour Cream
4 slices of crispy crumbled bacon
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 tsp chives, minced
Green onions, tops, sliced thin
Boil red bliss potatoes just until tender, do not overcook. Shock in ice water bath. Slice potatoes in ½ using a melon baller leaving a thin lining. Cut a slice off the bottom of the potato so it can stand on its own.
Marinate shrimp for at least 3 hours or overnight in oil, salt, pepper & thyme.
Combine Cream cheese, sour cream, bacon, salt, pepper & chives and spoon into potatoes and top w/ shrimp, tail up. Garnish with onion tops.