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Hors d’oeuvres: Cooking Ideas for a Cool Benefit!

Lemongrass and Chili Shrimp with Toasted Rice Powder

For the last couple of days, I’ve been working on some cooking ideas for passed hors d’oeuvres for a really cool benefit that I’m making the food for at the end of the month. It looks like it will be an amazing night of live jazz and readings for an international organization working to make education accessible to low income children worldwide. I’m so excited to be a part of this!

Here’s where I am so far!

hors d'oeuvres A simple and delicious recipe for a great holiday appetizer! Roast sweet potatoes with bacon, crispy leeks, and spicy mayo | Tasting Everything Chipotle rockfish tacos - hors d'oeuvres | Tasting Everything Lemongrass shrimp with toasted rice powder: hors d'oeuvres and cooking ideasBalsamic roast blueberry and ricotta phyllo purses hors d'oeuvres hors d'oeuvres hors d'oeuvres

The pictures are:

  • Seared Ahi with lightly pickled cucumber, crispy nori, and soy reduction
  • Roast yam, hickory smoked bacon, spicy aioli, crispy leeks
  • Chipotle marinated rockfish “taco” with pineapple salsa and herbs
  • Lemongrass shrimp with chilies and toasted rice powder
  • Balsamic roast blueberry and fresh ricotta purses
  • Crispy roast pear with goat cheese, Fillmore farms walnuts, and pomegranate
  • Smoked wild salmon with pepper cress cream cheese, dill, chives, and poppyseed
  • Warm brie and caramelized onion phyllo pockets

Nope!  I didn’t find or make gf phyllo dough, so there are two hors d’oeuvres pictured that are not friendly for people working to avoid the stuff.  I have a new goal of finding a great gf phyllo dough recipe!

It has been a lot of fun just playing around with cooking ideas so that we can narrow down exactly which appetizers we want to do for this particular event. There are a few guidelines in place regarding exactly what the organizers of the benefit are looking for, but as long as I work on keeping the food cost in line, I have a pretty large degree of freedom. I know that they want to start with a fresh and cool bite before everyone moves inside for the readings, and I also want to make sure that the food makes some sense for this area in late October. On the planning side of things, besides cost, I definitely want to make sure that this is something that can be prepared by one person, with just a volunteer or two at the end helping to get the food on plates. What that means in terms of planning is finding recipes that have a lot of steps that can be done in advance, which simplifies what you actually need to do during and right before a party! When I’m working on projects like this, I try to take at least two days to work with the recipes. On the first day, I make the things that I think can be done well in advance and set them up. Chances are, I will just be preparing things in the morning for the same evening, but giving everything the extra day magnifies what my issues might be. The next day, I closely examine everything for quality issues. Taste, smell, appearance, texture, and so on. It’s unlikely that I would have problems working with my ingredients through a single day, but I’m a huge fan of being prepared! This also helps in planning for personal chef work. When I’m discussing cooking ideas and setting up food for clients for several days, being aware of what does and doesn’t hold well benefits not only the food, but also helps with planning and communication.

Granted, because I’ve spent a number of years working, planning, and running events, most of this stuff I am already well aware of.  However, not working in a professional kitchen means not having professional kitchen equipment! This actually makes a huge difference! Rather than automatically renting commercial kitchen space, I am able to offer to keep costs lower by going into people’s homes and preparing the food there. The drawback to that situation is simply the fact that a kitchen in someone’s home is usually vastly different than a kitchen in a restaurant! This is actually a really fun situation because it means that I get to spend a bunch of time testing cooking ideas and recipes that I already know I’ll enjoy tasting!

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