Thursday, January 1, 2009
Oldies, But Goodies
It never ceases to amaze me how often at parties the simplest and most homely of dishes prove most popular even when presented side by side with elegant extravagances. Last night, we hosted our yearly New Year's Eve Party. Among the hors d'oeuvres, I served Red Hen baguette toasts topped with thin, well-marbled slices of Dakota Ranch grass-fed rib eye topped with horseradish creme fraiche, thin wafers of Straveccio, a salty, win-y Wisconsin parmesan, and a luscious triple creme cheese slathered with cranberry-shallot compote and baked. The most popular offering? Onion dip and potato chips. The second most popular? "Lambs in a Tuxedo," a fancy name for pigs in a blanket made with merguez sausage and puff pastry. I'm not certain whether it was the crowd or the reemerging popularity of comfort foods in the wake of this wretched year. In either event, I think these recipes would be well-received in a variety of settings. Here are my caterer's take on each simple classic.
Caramelized Onion Dip
Makes about 2 cups
1 medium yellow onion
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 pound cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons good mayonnaise (I use Hellman's)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Drop of Tabasco
METHODS: Very thinly slice the onion. Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the foam has subsided, add the onions and reduce the heat to low. Cook slowly, stirring often until the onions are a deep caramel color, approximately 1/2 hour. In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Finely chop the onions and add to the cream cheese. Mix until well-combined. Add remaining ingredients and mix. Serve with good, thick cut potato chips.
"Lambs in a Tuxedo"
1 package puff pastry (I use either homemade or DuFour)
1 pound mergeuz sausage.
METHODS: Lay the pastry sheet on a lightly floured cutting board. Cut the sausage into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Cut the pastry into columns just slightly larger than 1-inch. Wrap each piece of sausage with puff pastry leaving just a slight overhang. Press to seal. Place seal side down on a baking sheet lined with either silpat or parchment. The lambies can be frozen at this point for up to 3 weeks. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until puffed and golden. Serve with mustard-sherry sauce.
1/2 cup dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sambal olek
METHOD: Mix together all ingredients.