This past weekend, I threw a birthday party for my boyfriend. It was themed, “Funktastic Birthday Voyage”. 70’s funkadelic. There were decorations and costumes and was all in all, very entertaining.
I have thrown many parties. In college, they were mostly about whatever horrifying punch concoction I came up with. There were the occasional bowls of chips and dips, maybe some pretzels and cookies if I was feeling extravagant. Since then however, I’ve become a bit more sophisticated. Now, I really like to impress with the food spread.
For this party, I wanted to keep the food super simple. The party was mostly a surprise for my boyfriend. I sent him off with the boys a few hours before the party started and had some girlfriends come and help me set up. This means that I had a very limited window to cook. Most of the things I made look complicated, but were super easy. The menu consisted of the following: bbq turkey meatballs, roasted shrimp cocktail, savory palmiers, caprese skewers, chocolate fondue, and the obligatory chips and salsa.
Ina Garten’s Savory Palmiers have become a party staple for me. They are one of the easiest, tastiest, and fanciest appetizers that I have come across. They look like you worked much harder on them than you actually will. I have never had any leftovers when I serve these.
Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics, Ina Garten
1 package frozen Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, defrosted
1/4 cup prepared pesto, store-bought or homemade (recipe follows)
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese, such as Montrachet
1/4 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 2 pounds (12 to 15-count) shrimp
- 1 tablespoon good olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Sauce:
- 1/2 cup chili sauce (recommended: Heinz)
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place them on a sheet pan with the olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread them in 1 layer. Roast for 8 to10 minutes, just until pink and firm and cooked through. Set aside to cool.
For the sauce, combine the chili sauce, ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Serve as a dip with the shrimp.
One thing I will amend though, is that I rarely take the time to peel and devein shrimp when I’m doing big batches for parties. You can get 2 pound bags at Sam’s or Costco that are frozen, already cleaned with the tails on, and reasonably priced. All you have to do is put the shrimp in a strainer in your sink and run cold water over them until they thaw. It takes less than 5 minutes, which unless you are a shrimp cleaning savant, will be way less time than otherwise.
Both of these recipes are from “Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics”. If you don’t own this book, go and buy it. Right now. No, I’m not joking. You need it. Everything is simple, beautiful, and really darn tasty. Anyone can cook a fabulous meal out of this book. The instructions are simple and straighforward and the flavors are brilliant.