This was the theme for the second Boot Camp at Willows Lodge, an event created to help those ‘party menu challenged’ to create easy, holiday appetizer recipes that will really impress your guests.
Barking Frog’s energetic Chef Bobby Moore has the showmanship and name recognition to draw a large crowd of his fans. Not only did Chef Bobby spread his enthusiasm throughout the room, he walked around with a pan of steaming hot chutney around to give everyone a look, and to fill the room with its savory aroma. At this point, many of us wanted to dip our spoons in and try it! The sweet and sour mix of raisins, apricots, wine, balsamic vinegar, honey, shallots and garlic, was topped with blue cheese and wrapped in (store-bought) puff pastry. A delicious agrodolce two-bite appetizer.
My favorite appetizer (which is also the most expensive to make, unless you buy your crab at Aqua Best seafood!) was the Dungeness crab cake & lemon hollandaise. Using panko bread crumbs, this was soft and mild, allowing the flavorful crab meat to come through. This decadent, creamy appetizer was absolutely delicious! The hollandaise sauce added a creamy richness to the bite, and the crab cakes made for satisfying hors d’oeuvres.
As Chef Bobby said, “[If] you’re at a party enjoying a glass of champagne, and someone passes you a crab cake… [say] Amen!”
Next, we discussed bacon jam. Chef Bobby used it to top a warm goat cheese crostini made with brioche crumbs, but with something that delicious, the possibilities are endless (if you’re a bacon lover). I’ve included the recipe at the bottom of this post, so definitely give it a try.
What I enjoyed most about this class was hearing all of the kitchen and entertaining tips that weren’t recipe specific. Like how to use your knife on a cutting board to keep it sharp, where to have them sharpened professionally, and putting your bowl on a circled towel so you can whisk with a free hand. Also, the encouragement to experiment with recipes and make changes as you like was wonderful.
Given how amazing it has been so far, I hope some of you can join Crave Local for the last Party Planning Bootcamp of 2012 on December 19th with Pastry Chef Matt Kelley.
- 7 pieces bacon
- ¼ c. brown sugar
- 4 onions, medium dice
- ¼ c. maple syrup
- 1 c. aged sherry vinegar
- 1 lb. fig jam (Dalmatia, 2 ea. 8.5 oz. jars)
- 1 c. water
Bake bacon until almost crispy, then cool and chop. Reserve the fat. In a medium sauce pan, cook onions in the bacon fat until lightly caramelized and very soft. Add in the chopped bacon, sherry and water. Cook 20 min. on low heat. Add brown sugar, maple syrup and fig jam. Cook 10 min. on low heat. Pull off the heat and cool. When cool, puree in the food processor in batches until smooth, adding a little water if necessary. Place in sealed containers and store in the refrigerator – if it can last that long.
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