Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Your next dinner party: part 1- Appetizers

You might want to get your guest lists together for dinner this weekend, because by Friday you'll have a kick ass dinner party to thrown down that will garner you much love and appreciation. How do I know? Because I did this just last Sunday, and it was an absolute home run!

Apps, entrée, salad, dessert, and boatloads of wine. All the ingredients for a successful soirée, don't you think? There wasn't really a theme for the dinner. Just things I like and wanted to share. I can say everything worked together fantastically. Today I'll start with the appetizers which I've mentioned before in previous posts over the last couple of years, but since I have hundreds more readers, they both bear repeating because the are both so freakishly good and way easy.
First up is the best, easiest guacamole you will ever have! No shit, it really is that good. I've pulled this out several times over the past year or so, and every time people do the classic one bite, eyes go wide, then the "Oh, that's really good" comment always follows up without fail. The recipe is from Saveur Magazine. The one thing I think is indispensable here is a good mortar and pestle (here's the one i have. a serious piece of equipment that i LOVE!) to grind the initial onion, cilantro, jalapeno, and salt together which makes the paste that is the flavor base and is the key to the depth of flavor here. Also leaving the avocado in chunks is really a nice textural thing, so their innate creaminess and flavor really makes its full impact. Scooped out with my new favorite tortilla chips,, the Kettle Chips Blue Corn Tortilla Chips (I wonder if they'll send me a coupon for a free bag for mentioning them?!), these will disappear instantly!

Also on the table were my summer snack addiction I discovered last year at the Portland Farmer's Market. These little Pimientos de Padron are simply too good. It's spicy, salty food crack. I just spotted them at Viridian Farms booth last week, and my heart instantly started beating faster, my hands got sweaty, my eyes got a little wild, and I'm sure I looked like some meth addict when I handed them my money with shaking hands, scurrying off with my three little boxes. That first bite before dinner, when I hadn't had them for a year, was sublime. Use the stems for a little handle, and eat away. I don't know if you have these wherever you are, but if you don't they are worth seeing if you can have them shipped. The more addicts I have around me the better I feel about my "problem"!

The best things about both of these is you can make them last minute (in fact you want to plate the peppers hot right out of the sauté pan when your guests are there) in less than 20 minutes. We washed these down with a bottle of my favorite prosecco rosé and a couple of crisply delicious bottles of white.
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The World's Greatest Guacamole
adapted from Saveur Magazine

3 medium hass avocados (firmly ripe)
3 tablespoons finely chopped onions
2 tablespoons packed chopped cilantro
4 tablespoons chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno
1 teaspoon salt

1-In large mortar and pestle or molcajete, grind salt, one tablespoon onion, one tablespoon cilantro, and jalapeno into a paste.
2-Half avocados, carefully remove pit, and score each half four times both directions being careful not to cut through peel. Then scoop out meat from each half into mortar and carefully fold into paste, keeping avocado as intact as possible.
3-Fold in remaining ingredients, mix well, season with more salt of necessary, and serve!
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Sautéed Pimientos de Padron

1 dozen, more or less, pimientos de padron
olive oil
coarse sea salt (available at most markets. I get mine at Trader Joe's- BB)

Pour olive oil to barely coat bottom of nonstick sauté pan, then add a smidge more. Heat oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add peppers, toss some sea salt on top, and sauté until brown and white marks appear, about four or five minutes. Serve immediately, using the stems as convenient little handles.
Cooks not: the coarse sea salt is essential. It's worth huntng down!


Megan said...

Well I am never one to pass up on guac and yours looks so amazing I was tempted to reach through the screen. I don't have a mortal and pestle but also am a firm believer in good technique...I will make this this weekend, party or not!

Megan of Bit of Nutmeg

bb said...

megan....I promise the guac will rock your world. It's crazy how much better than any other version I've had it is. And good technique is much to be respected. Enjoy!

Norm Schoen said...

Bruce, those peppers are awesome! I need to head to the Farmer's Market this weekend.

bb said...

I know HAVE to get them while they're in season. So easy and so fucking good!!