Friday, December 14, 2012

1st Annual S.H.A.C. (Sunnyside Holiday Apartment Crawl)

Last weekend, my brilliant friend, Danny, put together an apartment crawl in our neighborhood.  I'm always listing the fact that I have so many people I know within a 10 block radius the #1 reason I love my 'hood.  The only problem is, I never see any of them!  
Danny came up with the idea of a bunch of us all visiting each others' home in one night.  We started at one apartment and, after about an hour (or one cocktail) moved on to the next place!  It was genius.  You only had to worry about having enough booze and food for about and hour and clean up was minimal!  

The only problem was my house was second to last, so everything I made had to be done ahead of time - I really wanted to spend next to zero time prepping once the party arrived at my place.  
This is what I came up with.
Meatballs in Marinara Sauce (made that morning and kept warm in the crock pot)
with homemade sourdough bread, courtesy of The Man
Endive "Boats" with Blue Cheese, Toasted Walnuts and Pomegranate Seeds

Chocolate Ganache Tart with Whipped Cream

Want my super secret meatball recipe?  It's a crowd pleaser!
For the Sauce:
2, 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes
10 Tbs butter
2 med onions, peeled and cut in half
2 tsp kosher salt
For the Meatballs:
2 1/2 lbs. of ground beef and ground pork, the combo is up to you as long as it equals 2 1/2 lbs.
1c grated parmesan cheese
1c seasoned Panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cloves of garlic (I grate these with a microplane)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes 
1/2 tsp salt (this is optional, sometimes I even leave it out if I'm using a stronger cheese like Pecorino Romano)
2 Tbs chopped basil or parsley or  a mixture of both
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and start on the sauce.  The recipe is this one.  It sounds crazy, but it's the only sauce I make now and The Man says it tastes like his Grandma's, so that's pretty much they highest compliment it could get.  You just put everything in a somewhat shallow pot (I have a 6 qt dutch oven that works perfectly) and let it simmer as low as possible.  By the time the meatballs are done, the sauce will be too.

For the meatballs, you just mix everything up with your bare hands, so that it's just barely mixed.  You don't want to over do it.  Then I use a scoop to make 50 perfect meatballs.  I'm a little OCD that way, but once I started using the scoop there was no turning back.  Just scoop them out and round them a little in your hands and plop them on a cookie sheet.  You'll need two cookie sheets.  Once they're all dished out, give them a generous drizzle of olive oil and bake for 20 minutes.  
Take them out of the oven.  Take the onions out of the sauce and throw them away.  Put the meatballs in the sauce and you're done!

The Chocolate Tart is even easier and you make it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge.  Use the crust recipe from here.  It never, ever fails.  Let it cool and then fill it with chocolate

For the ganache:
12 oz dark chocolate (I use 70%), chopped
1 c heavy cream
4 Tbs butter, cut into pieces
Put the chocolate and butter into a heat-proof bowl.  Bring the cream almost to a simmer and then pour it over the chocolate/butter mixture.  Let it sit for about a minute and then stir it up so that the chocolate fully melts and it looks all smooth and shiny.  Then pour it into the tart shell.  Tap it a few times on your counter so that the surface it totally even and smooth and put it in the fridge until party time!

The Endive Boats don't need an explanation do they?  You separate the leaves of the endive so they make little boats and then fill them with crumbled blue cheese, toasted walnuts and pomegranate seeds.  I love these because they're basically finger food and they taste light and refreshing.  I will give you my super secret honey dijon vinaigrette recipe, though.

For the Vinaigrette:

1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 Tbs honey, (If you happen to have super fancy black truffle honey from a trip to Tuscany, awesome.)
1 Tbs white balsamic vinegar , white wine vinegar, or sherry vinegar (Don't use regular balsamic for this because it won't look pretty when you dress the salad.)
3 Tbs walnut oil 
1 tsp water

Make the vinaigrette and store it separately from your Boats.  You can make the Boats ahead of time and wrap them in plastic wrap and store them in the fridge so they won't wilt.  When the guests arrive, unwrap and drizzle with dressing. 

Taa DAA!  You're welcome!  
I hope you have some fun plans for the weekend, maybe a party or two? 

** Those clementine are left over from the party.  Oranges always make me feel Christmas-y, in a Little Women kind of way.  Am I the only one?

No comments: