Monday, 30 January 2012

Appetizer Party

I have mentioned before a few recipes from the book A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg of the blog Orangette. Well, here comes another one! For a Christmas appetizer party this year, I couldn't resist making the miniature "BLT"s shown on the bottom tier above. The description and ingredients list sounded so amazing, and while there was some fiddly assembling required, there was nothing difficult about these. I strongly encourage you to give them a shot the next time you feel like you need an impressive appetizer!

Little Corn Cakes with Bacon, Tomato, and Avocado
For the Roasted Tomatoes:
1/2 lb cherry tomatoes (about 30), halved
2 tsp. olive oil
Preheat oven to 325'F. Put the tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Gently toss using your hands, and arrange them cut side up. Bake for 30-35 min, until they shrink slightly and edges are shriveled. Set aside to cool, and refrigerate in an airtight container. (Can be made up to 3 days ahead)
For the Bacon:
10 slices thin-cut bacon
Turn oven temperature to 400'F. Arrange bacon in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake until the fat begins to render, about 5 min. Rotate the pan, and continue to bake until crisp, 5-6 min. more. Transfer with tongs to a paper-towel lined plate, and cool briefly. Using your fingers, snap each strip of bacon into 5 or 6 small "chips", about 1-11/2 inches long.
For the Corn Cakes:
1 medium ear of corn
1/2 cup fine cornmeal
1/2 cup cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup whole milk (not low fat or nonfat)
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. canola oil, plus more for pan
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 1/4 tsp. apple cider vinegar
Put a small, heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. While it warms, use a sharp knife to cut the kernels off the ear of corn. When the pan is hot, add the kernels and cook, shaking the pan occasionally until the corn is browned and fragrant - about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, and scrape the kernels into the bowl of a food processor. Allow to cool.
While the corn cools, prepare the batter. In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and whisk to mix well.
In a measuring pitcher, combine the milk, water, oil, and maple syrup - whisking with a fork to blend.
When the corn is cool, process briefly in the food processor until finely chopped. You want some texture. Add the corn to the dry ingredients along with the wet ingredients and the vinegar, and whisk just to combine. The batter will foam a bit and thicken. Rest it for 5 minutes.
Warm a non-stick pan over medium heat. Brush it lightly with oil. Scoop the batter by the teaspoonful into the pan, forming round cakes about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Do not crowd the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes on the first side, then gently flip when golden and continue cooking until the second side is cooked.
Transfer the finished cakes to a platter, brushing the pan lightly with oil between each batch.
To Finish the Cakes:
Top each cake with a smear of mayonnaise. Place a small slice of Avocado on top of the mayo, followed by a 'chip' of bacon, then a roasted tomato half, and finally a thin ribbon of Basil. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and serve immediately. 

On the middle tier of the tray I adapted this Martha Stewart recipe for a Pastry Wreath into individual Cream Puffs. Orange Rum Pastry Cream is the filling, and I topped them with whipped cream and a homemade Orangette (candied orange peel).


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