Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cocktail Party Prolonge # 3

My sister and brother-in-law came to visit me in Hudson a few days ago.  It was the first time that they had visited Hudson since I have lived here.   I thought that a tiny bit of festivity was in order.   I had already invited a friend over for a drink before I knew that they would be coming here with certainty.  Traveling from their home - that other whaling town, Nantucket, an island 26 miles out to sea - is often fraught with complications due to weather, and making ferries and/or planes.   When their plans were finally set I invited a few more friends and came up with the kind of menu that I'm fond of constructing based on a Victorian-style of entertaining - a cocktail prolonge - which I've discussed in several previous blogs.  For those of you who are new to this blog or don't remember what I described go to the previous link and this one.   Basically I talked about a cocktail prolonge as being exactly as described - a prolonged cocktail party that includes a good variety of two- and three- bite offerings served with plenty of good drinks and concludes a few hours later with one substantial dish; pasta, risotto, or casserole, etc. And of course, a little something to sweeten the palate.

My logic for planning this type of party is that the number of people in attendance determines the variety of nibbles that I make.   We were small number of people so I offered few things each made with three ingredients only.

Smoked Salmon on Toasted Quinoa Bread  (from Bonfiglio & Bread, formerly Loaf - for now sold only in the Hudson Farmers' Market - opening soon on upper Warren Street) with caper butter.   I find that the Ducktrap brand smoked salmon from Maine available at the local Hannaford's very good.

Watermelon Radishes with Black Olive Ricotta.   Watermelon radishes are available from several different vendors right now at the farmers' market.  They're crunchy and sharply flavored - and beautiful to look at.  I mixed chopped Kalamata olives with whole milk ricotta to make a contrasting spread/dip to enjoy with them.

Cheddar Cheese Toasts with Mango Chutney.   Once I again I turned to Bonfiglio & Bread to provide me with a perfect baguette to cut into slices to hold a piece  of Adirondack cheddar (Cheese! at the farmers' market) topped it with a dollop of mango chutney. I baked the toasts in a 350 degree F. oven until the cheese had melted and the toast was brown.

Assorted Cheese, Crackers and Roasted Pears.   I choose, again from Cheese!; "pollembert"  a goat milk kind of Camembert shot through with fennel pollen, and "black ledge blue" a a buttery yellow natural rind cheese dotted with blue - its maker call it "distinctive but accessible" .   I wait for the pear season to make roasted pears which are the very best accompaniment to cheese - any variety.

Risotto with Pomegranate and Duck Confit was the dish I made to finish up the party.   Remember the duck confit  and duck broth that I made in the sweltering heat of the past summer?   A recent sighting of pomegranates in supermarket bins inspired me to visit the duck.  I thought, what a perfect combination.  Duck wants a bit of acid fruit to accentuate its rich flavor.   For the record this is not the first time that I've used pomegranates with risotto and it's not an original idea.  A few years ago, in the Veneto region of Italy, I ate an amazing risotto made with prosecco and pomegranate.   I've used that idea ever since in various permutations.
Follow the recipe in the link, which, by the way, is also the link to my first recorded cocktail prolonge , up until the part that gives directions for bay scallops.   Use duck broth and water where the recipe calls for water only and shredded duck confit crisped in its own fat to top the finished risotto instead of the bay scallops.

We sweetened our palates with caramelized applesauce, a selection of ice creams and shortbread. 

SUSANSIMONSAYS:  My friend, Chris Jones and I participate in the Hudson Reads (contact me for details) program as mentors.  It's completely rewarding for us and the kids that we read with once a week.  If you have an hour - or even a half an hour to spare once a week (of course, if you're nearby) - join us.  You won't regret it. 
HAPPY HALLOWEEN, I hope that you're all safe and dry.


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