A towel in Robyn Payant's kitchen says it all: "Born to shop, forced to cook." So it was no surprise when I got an SOS call from her last week. She was hosting a Diva Purse Party — a good excuse to gather friends and have a party, she told me — and her caterer had to bow out less than a week before the soiree'.
Typically, I prefer a few more days notice to plan and prep, but this was something new, and I was up for this challenge. And I wanted to help Robyn. She was expecting 40 plus, but I think more like 60 showed up!
Since the menu had to be produced on short notice, there was really little time for too many new recipes, so I dug deep into the Table Scraps archives for a few of my favorite appetizer recipes.
These were a hit: lemony crab salad on endive. The filling of mild, sweet crab, celery and tarragon beautifully complemented the crunchy endive leaves.
These also vanished quickly. The bite-sized balls of gorgonzola, white wine and cream cheese were coated with paprika and finely chopped pecans, and served in mini-paper cups with an assortment of crackers.
On the right, are pickled grapes with rosemary and chiles, a recipe my sister, Janet, recently sent me. I know, when I first heard of them, I thought they sounded bizarre, too. The red and green grapes looked like olives, once pickled. Janet heard about them on "The Splendid Table." They were quite addicting, not to mention one heck of a conversation piece for Robyn's nibbling gal pals.
Isn't this colorful! Organic grape tomatoes were skewered with fresh mozzarella cheese wrapped in a fresh basil leave. The skewers were then stuck in a basket of fresh parsley. Under the parsley is a block of floral foam and a layer of rocks to steady the arrangement. Close by was a bowl of fresh, balsamic vinaigrette for dipping.
This stuff flew off the plate. Chunky pieces of bittersweet and semisweet chocolate, embedded with roasted cashews, crystallized ginger, dried cherries, dried apricots and golden raisins made a masterpiece dessert in this French Chocolate Bark.
The party was a social and culinary blast!