I currently live in Charlotte, NC and after spending 7 years as a personal chef and caterer, I am now happy to share my love of cooking with friends and family. My heart is in the kitchen, but my soul is in the stars!

Party On, Garth

In my last post, I expressed frustration over the fact that being in the catering business wasn't always about what I wanted to eat. I suppose in today's post, hard as it may be, I can admit that being self-centered isn't always a good thing.

One of my repeat clients submitted a dozen or so recipes to be used for her cocktail party a few weeks ago and after a round of testing in the catering kitchen, all but one of them were considered something I wouldn't be embarrassed/ashamed/not caught dead serving and admitting that we prepared. I even declared a couple of them as keepers to be used for future events.

I show up for the gig and strategically placed my overflowing, beautifully garnished platters of party fare around the dining area, taking special care to down-play the one "loser" recipe by trying to hide it in back of a huge floral centerpiece. And wouldn't you know it, the guests - resembling a pack of drug sniffing dogs drawn to a suspicious piece of luggage - apprehended the suspect appetizer in no time. To my horror, they started plucking the food from the platter and attempting to actually eat the weird looking little morsels. And then I heard the dreaded question.

"What is this?"

Reluctantly, I began to explain that it was a recipe that the host had chosen (making sure that I emphasized that piece of information) called Bacon Wrapped Almond Stuffed Apricots. I started to run walk away so I wouldn't have to witness the look on the guest's face - you know the one when you get something really nasty in your mouth and realize you have to keep chewing and eventually swallow so as not to gross out everyone else - when to my amazement, said guest's eyes opened wide, a smile spread across his face and the proclamation, "These are FABULOUS!" brought the rest of the dogs running. And in the blink of an eye, 30 guests obliterated nearly 200 pieces of food that I had deemed unedible and I was proven wrong. Terribly wrong.

This photo was taken during my testing phase and shows (from front to back) Parmesan Rounds, Mushroom Puffs, and a scant few of the appetizer that I tried to hide in the bushes. Since I deemed the first two as something that I'd serve again and still stand in amazement at the popularity of the third one, I'm sharing them all with you. Enjoy and party on!

* Exported from MasterCook *

Bacon-Wrapped Almond Stuffed Apricots

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
24 dried apricot halves
24 whole almonds -- lightly toasted
8 slices bacon -- cut into 3rds
3/4 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Fold each apricot half around 1 whole almond. Wrap 1 bacon piece around each stuffed apricot. Secure with wooden picks. Place on a wire rack in an aluminum foil lined jelly roll pan.

Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until bacon is crisp, turning once.

Microwave preserves, soy sauce, and pepper in a small microwave safe bowl at medium for 1 minute or until preserves are melted. Serve dipping sauce with stuffed apricots.

"Southern Living, January 2007"
"24 pieces"

NOTES : Serve warm - not very good at room temp.

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* Exported from MasterCook *

Mushroom Puffs

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
2 packages crescent dinner rolls
8 ounces cream cheese -- room temp
4 ounces mushrooms -- drained and chopped
2 green onions -- chopped
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 large egg
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 375. Lay out crescent roll dough and press perforations to seal. Mix cream cheese, mushrooms, onions, and salt and spread over dough.

Roll up jelly roll fashion and slice into 1" pieces.

Brush with egg, sprinkle with poppy seeds, and bake 375 for 10 mins.

"48 pieces"

NOTES : Can be prepared ahead up to baking point and then frozen until time to cook. In fact, the mushroom roll is easier to slice if it's frozen.

Alison's note - added a bit of roasted red bell pepper to filling for color. Okay at room temp.

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* Exported from MasterCook *

Parmesan Rounds

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
2 loaves thinly sliced white bread
unsalted butter
2 packages cream cheese -- room temp
1/2 cup unsalted butter -- room temp
1/3 cup mayonnaise
6 green onions -- chopped
freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cut four 1-1/2" circles from each bread slice. Butter one side of each circle and arrange in a single layer, buttered side up, on baking sheet. Broil until lightly toasted, then turn and toast other sides. Cool on rack. Combine cream cheese, butter, mayo, and green onions. Spread 1 tsp of mixture over buttered sides of bread circles and dip into Parm cheese. Preheat broiler and arrange rounds on baking sheet. Broil until bubbly and golden, 5 mins, and serve immediately.

"Southern Living, January 2007"
"150 pieces"

NOTES : Okay at room temp. Used lid from spice jar to cut circles.

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