December catch-up: Cocktails for 35+

12/13: We had a slightly last-minute cocktail party for our friends who were still in town by the second week of December. Ben bought a very large quantity of cheese at the Coop, and we still have tons of cashews from an unfortunate bulk-buy this fall. Our friend Nancy (the Foods that Begin with P genius) volunteered to bring sweets, so I was off the hook for dessert, thank god. I had made a double batch of the strange flavor eggplant earlier in the week so I’d have a bunch for the party, and we put that out with fresh croutons. Note to self: those flavors don’t just pull together as they sit, they strengthen. What had been sweet and spicy on Sunday was CRAZILY garlicky on Wednesday. Very potent.

For hot snacks we grilled sausages and cut them up into coins, which we passed around hot. I made about 80 little mozzarella balls wrapped in prosciutto, inspired by an appetizer I’d eaten in Boston that week. These were broiled and served hot, but sadly I didn’t think it through AT ALL, and I used fresh mozzarella balls instead of cutting up a wedge of firm mozzarella. The water content, of course, was far too high, and they melted all over the place instead of staying in tidy balls. They tasted great, though, and I want to try again soon with the right cheese! Here’s the top of my prepared mountain of them, before they met their melty fate:

Inspired by an old, old post on Chocolate and Zucchini for creatively flavored palmiers, I set out to make a savory version, using a couple spreads I bought at the Coop: one sun-dried tomato (not usually my favorite, but it worked here) and an olivata. This is SUPER simple and a useful trick. I thawed store-bought (Pepperidge Farms) puff pastry, laid it out flat, spread it with the…spreads, grated a bunch of parmesan over it, and then rolled it up from both sides. Once it was rolled all the way up (I don’t have a photo of that stage) I pressed the whole thing together firmly so it wouldn’t unroll, then threw it in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up. You don’t want it frozen, just hard enough that you can cut thin slices off with a serrated knife. I baked those, and voila, savory cocktail nibbles!
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There was slight confusion over the desserts and palmiers: one of the desserts was a fabulous batch of little turnovers filled with chocolate and nuts. I had couple people tell me they bit into those expecting meat, and the palmiers expecting sweet!

It was fun, though I didn’t have a sip of wine until all but a couple friends had left (we forced them to stay and visit and help us eat the cheese.) Amazing how many people can cram into a little house if you push all the furniture back against the wall…

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