Saturday, February 14, 2009

Beertails and Fine Finger Foods

Before I start talking about the wonderful food in this post, i'd like to first talk about my wonderful friends. And at this very moment, mainly Teresa. Without her help for 10 hours yesterday, this fabulous spread would not have been possible.

This is going to be a very long post, but a very informative one for anyone who is thinking of throwing a cocktail or beertail party. Not only will I go through the recipes for each item, but I’ll also give an idea on how the planning took place. It all started because it was my husband’s birthday. Oh, and I thought I’d throw it out there, he was born on February 14th, so not only is he an amazing chef, he’s also my cupid! (yeah-yeah, enough with the cheese!)

I decided to throw the party on February 13th, that way all the lovebirds could have Saturday to themselves. I took the Friday off so that I would have the day to cook and prepare the finger foods. It’s a lot for one person, so when my best friend Teresa said she had the day off and would love to help, I was totally stoked. We say this is our thank you to Ryan for all of the amazing and delicious meals he has made for us. I’m sure if he had his hands on these recipes they’d be 100 times better, but hey, we did a pretty amazing job ourselves! Unfortunately I did not get a photograph of every single thing. Bad I know, but I was too busy hosting. I did manage to grab the shot of the pizza off one of the websites where I got the recipes, which I believe also need thanking: and

I spent hours scanning recipes online that would be delicious, work together, and in my mind, do-able. Here’s what I settled with.

Pear and Gorgonzola Mini Pizzas
Chèvre and Grape Truffles with Pistachio Crust
Little Mushrooms with Leeks and Goat Cheese
Miniature Jalapeno Souffles
Crostini with Beef Tartare and White Truffle Oil
Spicy Shrimp Rémoulade on Molasses-Buttered Toast
Roasted Red Pepper and Hazelnut Dip
Maple Smoked Salmon in Pastries with Caper-Dill Relish
Smoked Bison on New Potatoes with Cream Horseradish
Smoked Duck On Savory Parmesan and Thyme Cookies with Onion and Redcurrant Relish
Smoked Scallops on Cucumber Rounds
Quebec Cheeses and Ostrich Paté, Rillette de Canard and Rosette de Lyon
Smoked Trout with Capers and Red Onion
Maple Butter Tarts

Ok, so that’s a lot. But when you're cooking for the most important person in the world to you, and who has made you 100's of amazing meals, why would you do any less. Here's how I got started.

• Create a document with all the recipes and ideas
• Create a second document with all the ingredients
• Match like ingredients together and delete any overlapping
• Bring the list home and cross off what you already have
• Find out which grocery store in your area is the best to find most of the ingredients (I went to Loblaws on Ogilvie)
• If it’s a surprise, do the shopping a few days ahead and store the food at a friend’s place
• Do the specialty food shopping first then build around that
• Keep an extra day or two in between when you shop and when you start cooking to allow time to find hard to find ingredients
• Also get the liquor ahead of time just so you’re not rushing at the end
• Go through each recipe and mark all items that can be done ahead of time or require refrigeration time and start in that order

My first stop of all was at the Boucanerie Chelsea. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is my favourite food store of all time. The woman was also extremely helpful and gave me lots of fun ideas and tips. She even let Teresa and I taste the cheeses so we could easily pick which ones we wanted to bring home. A fabulous experience to say the least. I left there with the following items, which inspired all of the smoked and cheese items on the list above.

• Autruche Figues (ostrich paté)
• Foie Gras Rillette Canard
• Rosette de Lyon (meat stick)
• Smoked Bison
• Smoked Duck
• Maple Smoked Salmon
• Smoked Scallops
• Smoked Trout (the whole fish)
• Fleurs des Monts (cheese)
• Le Baluchon (cheese)
• Curé Labelle (cheese)
• Fromage de Chèvre Cendré (goat cheese)
• Unpasturized Goat Cheese (which I rolled in chives)
• Homemade Herbed Crostini Toasts

She even threw in a free smoked cheese as a special gift for my husband!

I picked up Teresa at 8am and filled the car with all the yummy food. We got back to my place and immediately got to work. Here’s what we made.

Pear and Gorgonzola Mini Pizzas

What you’ll need
1 lb. raw store bought pizza dough (500g)
1 tbsp olive oil (15 ml) + 1 tablespoon (15 ml
Flour for dusting
1 tbsp fresh dill, roughly chopped (15 ml)
Cracked pepper to taste
3 x ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/8" slices
4 oz Gorgonzola cheese
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts (30ml)

What to do
Preheat a pizza stone in a 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) oven.
Divide pizza dough into 6 equal portions. Start to form the dough into 6 equal-sized balls.
Work each ball of dough by pulling down the sides and tucking the sides under the bottom of the ball. Then, using a smooth surface, roll the ball under the palm of your hand until the ball is smooth and firm, about 1 minute.
Place the balls on a lightly oiled baking tray. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow them to rest at room temperature for 12-15 minutes. (If you are preparing the dough in advance, this is the point of the preparation that the balls can be loosely covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for 1-2 days).
To prepare each pizza, place a ball of dough on a lightly floured surface. Press down on the center of the ball and flatten slightly. Lightly dust a rolling pin with flour and roll each ball of dough into 4" circles. Allow the outer 1/4" border to be slightly thicker than the center.
Brush the dough lightly with oil and sprinkle evenly with dill and pepper. Arrange the pear slices on the dough so they slightly overlap. Crumble gorgonzola overtop and sprinkle equally with pine nuts. Repeat with remaining pizzas.
Using a pizza paddle (lightly dusted with flour) carefully lift the pizzas onto the preheated pizza stone.
Bake pizzas for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
Transfer pizzas to a firm surface and cut into slices with a pizza cutter.
Serve immediately.

Chèvre and Grape Truffles with Pistachio Crust

What you’ll need
8 oz (250 g) chèvre, softened
4 oz (125g) cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp (50 mL) port
Pinch salt
2 lb. (1 kg) seedless green grapes
1 cup (250 mL) pistachios, shelled, lightly toasted and ground

What to do
In a bowl, mix together chèvre and cream cheese. Add port and salt, and mix until smooth. Measure out 1 teaspoonful (15mL) mixture. Press grape into mixture. Cover grape and cheese with plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap, evenly distribute cheese around grape. Remove plastic wrap and coat with pistachios.
Refrigerate until serving.

Little Mushrooms with Leeks and Goat Cheese

What you’ll need
1 1/2 lb. (750g) white or cremini mushrooms, stems removed and wiped clean
4 1/2 oz (140 g) chèvre
3/4 tsp (4 mL) salt, approx
1/2 tsp (2 mL) pepper
1 x large leek, white part only
1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
2 tbsp (30 mL) white wine or water

What to do
Preheat oven to 375 degrees (190 Celsius).
Toss mushrooms with 1⁄4 teaspoon (1 mL) each salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix together goat cheese with remaining salt and pepper.
Fill centre of each mushroom cap with about 1 tsp (5 mL) of cheese mixture. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. (Can be made up to 1 day ahead, wrap and refrigerate.)
Cut leeks into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces, and slice each piece into thin, long strips. Melt butter in sauté pan over medium heat. Add leeks and cook for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant and translucent, but not browned. Add wine and cook until wine has mostly evaporated, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Set aside.
Bake mushrooms until cheese is bubbly and mushrooms are browned, about 15 minutes.
Top with leek mixture and return to oven to heat, about 1 minute.
Serve warm.

Miniature Jalapeño Souffles

What you’ll need
1 tablespoon unsalted butter plus additional for buttering muffin cups
2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons pine nuts, very finely chopped
1 small whole pickled jalapeño or 5 slices, seeded and finely chopped (1 tablespoon)
6 tablespoons whole milk
1 oz finely shredded Gruyère (1/4 cup)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large egg, separated

Special equipment: a nonstick mini-muffin pan with 12 (1/8-cup) cups (each about 1 3/4 inches wide and 3/4 inch deep)

What to do
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat to 400°F.
Butter muffin cups. Stir together 1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon pine nuts in a small bowl. Dust cups with flour mixture, knocking out excess.
Melt remaining tablespoon butter in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat. Add remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons flour and jalapeño and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Whisk in milk (mixture will temporarily look curdled) and bring to a simmer, whisking, then cook, whisking constantly, until thick and smooth, about 3 minutes.
Transfer to a bowl and add cheese, salt, pepper, mustard, and egg yolk, stirring until cheese is melted and mixture is well blended. Cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
Beat egg white in a small deep bowl with an eggbeater or a handheld electric mixer at high speed until it just barely holds stiff peaks. Stir one fourth of whites into soufflé mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.
Spoon into muffin cups, filling about halfway, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon pine nuts. Bake soufflés until puffed and golden, 9 to 11 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack just until warm, then, if necessary, carefully run a small knife around edge of each soufflé to loosen. (Soufflés will fall as they cool.)

Soufflés can be baked and cooled 1 day ahead, then chilled in pan, covered. Reheat in a 350°F oven 5 to 7 minutes.

Crostini with Beef Tartare and White Truffle Oil

What you’ll need
2 anchovy fillets
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup minced shallots
1 tablespoon drained, chopped capers
1 large egg
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pound beef tenderloin, freshly ground
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
8 slices Crostini
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon white truffle oil

What to do
1. In a chilled mixing bowl, mash the anchovies and garlic with a fork to make a paste. Add the shallots and capers and mash them into the paste. Add the egg and whisk it into the paste with the fork. Whisk in the mustard and orange zest.
2. In a slow, steady stream, add the olive oil, whisking constantly until incorporated. Whisk in the Worcestershire sauce.
3. Add the beef and mix well with a wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Mound some tartare in the center of each crostini. Garnish with parsley and drizzle with truffle oil.

Spicy Shrimp Rémoulade on Molasses-Buttered Toast

What you’ll need
Molasses butter
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons light molasses
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

Remoulade sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
2 1/2 teaspoons drained prepared white horseradish
2 teaspoons minced shallot
2 teaspoons ketchup
2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

24 1 1/2-inch rounds or squares cut from Westphalian-style pumpernickel bread slices

8 ounces cooked peeled medium shrimp
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

What to do
For molasses butter: Using fork, mix all ingredients in small bowl to blend.

For remoulade sauce: Mix first 12 ingredients in medium bowl.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Spread molasses butter lightly over bread; arrange in single layer on baking sheet. Bake until bread begins to firm up, about 10 minutes. Cool.
Mix shrimp into remoulade sauce. Top toasts with shrimp mixture. Sprinkle with chives. Place toasts on platter.

Roasted Red-Pepper and Hazelnut Dip

What you’ll need
1 (7- to 8-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, rinsed and drained
1 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs (preferably from a baguette)
1 small garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup hazelnut or walnut oil

What to do
Purée all ingredients, except oil, with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a food processor until almost smooth, then add oil in a slow stream with motor running.

Maple Smoked Salmon in Pastries with Caper-Dill Relish

What you’ll need
3/4 cup finely chopped white onion
3 tablespoons drained capers
2 tablespoons (packed) chopped fresh dill
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
24 round pastries (you can find this in specialty food shops)
6 ounces thinly sliced maple smoked salmon, cut into 24 pieces

What to do
Stir first 5 ingredients in small bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper.

Put a bit of cream cheese inside the pastry and then the smoked salmon. Top each with the relish. Arrange appetizers on platter.

Smoked Bison on New Potatoes with Cream Horseradish

What you’ll need
24 new baby red potatoes
Smoked bison
Cream horseradish
Olive oil

What to do
Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut potatoes in half crosswise. Mix with oil in bowl. Place cut side down on heavy large baking sheet. Bake potatoes until just tender, about 25 minutes. Cool completely.

Cut thin slice off rounded end of each potato so that potatoes will stand upright. Spread a thin layer of cream horseradish on each, add the bison and garnish with rosemary.

Smoked Duck on Savory Parmesan and Thyme Cookies with Onion and Redcurrant Relish

What you’ll need
Smoked Duck

For the relish
1 x 400g jar onion marmalade
1/2 tsp ground ground allspice
1 orange, grated zest only
small bunch Redcurrants
1 tsp port

For the cookies
1 cup of flour
2 tbsp of fresh thyme (or rosemary)
1/4 cup of butter
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese (or cheddar)
1/2 cup of sour cream
Salt and pepper

What to do
For the relish
To make the relish, place the onion jam in a saucepan and add the allspice, orange zest, redcurrants and port. Heat, until the mixture comes to the boil and then remove from the heat.

For the cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place flour, thyme, butter and salt and pepper into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until combined. Add cheese and sour cream and pulse a few more times, until dough comes together.
Roll out into a log and wrap in saran wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Using a sharp knife, slice discs off of the roll and place on a lined baking sheet. Press an herb leaf into the center of each. Bake for 15 minutes, until they just start to brown.

Place meat on a cookie and top with the relish. Garnish with a small parsley leaf and serve.

Smoked Scallops on Cucumber Rounds

What you’ll need
English cucumber
Smoked scallops cut into 3 or 4 round pieces
Whipped chive cream cheese

What to do
Cut the cucumber into little rounds. Spread some cream cheese on the cucumber and top with the smoked scallop. Garnish with chives.

Maple Butter Tarts with Currants
(I actually omitted the currants)

What you’ll need
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (650 ml)
Pinch salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (125 ml)
2/3 cups cold vegetable shortening (150 ml)
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. ice water (150 ml)

1 egg
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (125 ml)
1/2 cup maple syrup (125 ml)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (60 ml)
1 tsp vanilla extract (5 ml)
1/4 tsp salt (1 ml)

3/4 cup currants (150 ml)

What to do
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Sift dry ingredients together. With a pastry cutter, blend in the butter and shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the ice water gradually until dough forms. Pat dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Roll the dough 1/4-inch thick. With a cookie cutter, cut out ten 41/2-inch circles. Press the circles into 10 cups of a muffin tin. Put the muffin tin in the freezer for 20 minutes. Bake for 30 minutes, or until pastry is golden and set. Cool on a wire rack.

In a medium bowl, lightly beat together the egg, brown sugar, maple syrup, butter, vanilla and salt.

Divide the currants among the shells. Pour the mixture into the shells and bake until set, about 15 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes. Remove tarts from pan and cool on a wire rack.

In addition to the fabulous food, I also served some pretty fabulous drinks. Every one that I tried was really good. I had little menus for people to order from.

Beertails List

Panaché – French version of the Shandy, made with two-thirds beer and one-third lemon flavoured soda called limonade. In France they give this to little kids at parties, but with more limonade than beer.

Power Shandy - Half a pint of lager topped with a Smirnoff Ice.

Clamato con cerveza – A Mexican cantina staple. Tall glass half filled with spicy clamato, lime juice and ice and topped with beer. Can be enjoyed with a shot of tequila on the side or added in.

The Rachelle – A shot of tawny port in a pint of coffee stout.

Maria Maria – Shot of port with orange juice and Blanche de Chambly on ice.

BeeSting – Dark beer and orange juice.

Black Cossack – Chilled Guinness containing vodka and rum.

Caffeine bomb — Newcastle Brown Ale, Espresso, Jack Daniels and Red Bull.

Force — beer mixed with lemonade and vodka.

Gold Rush — Beer mixed wih Jack Daniels, vodka, and orange juice.

Ingrid — 2/3 beer and 1/3 vermouth.

Irish Carbomb — a shot of half baileys and half irish whisky dropped in a half pint of Guinness.

Strongbull — Strongbow and Red Bull.

Urine Sample — 1/2 shot beer, 1/2 shot tequila, mixed and warmed in a microwave for 15 seconds.

Wife Beater — a concoction containing 1/2 pint lager, traditionally Stella Artois, 1/2 pint Smirnoff Ice and topped with a shot of Vodka. This drink is generally associated with Binge drinking. In parts of Ireland and Britain many people simply refer to Stella Artois as "Wife Beater" in reference to the famous line from A Streetcar Named Desire.


treesaw said...

Aw, you're sweet!

It was an awesome party. You rock!

Rachelle said...

yay! thanks so much Teresa! Couldn't have done it without you! Everything, and I mean everything, was absolutely perfect and so yummy!

Anonymous said...

it was INSANE!!!!

Anonymous said...

I have a huge puddle of drool on my keyboard. Thanks Rachelle!


Rachelle said...

You are welcome!