Recipe Test Nest » 5 Star » Celebrating 1 year with my VIP’s
Celebrating 1 year with my VIP’s

I had 14 amazing testers last year that attended more than 3 dinners, plus an amazing roommate who supported my experiment by allowing me to take over the apartment, fridge and much more. To show my thanks, I wanted to throw a little VIP party for my no. 1 supporters. I love making hors d-oeuvres, but rarely have the opportunity, so I decided to make the VIP night all about little bites, socializing and games. Trying to get 11 recipes ready and on serving platters on the buffet is a feat, so help was needed. Helpers Anna, Amber, Daniel and Suzi were key players in set up and final preparations so we could party. Joon took amazing shots of the evening as always.

Artisanal-Cheese Fondue (throw)

The flavor profile was good (with Gruyere, Blue and Jack cheeses) but it didn’t thicken well. It called for a whole bottle of white wine and as I looked up other recipes afterward they only called for a couple cups. While I let it boil down quite a bit, it still didn’t thicken quite enough (although some that was left in the pot and sat for a while thickened a little more so maybe that was the key). Tip: after looking over a bunch more recipes the secret ingredient is a little nutmeg and paprika.

Caramel Brie (4 Stars)

This recipe was interesting. We had to make the caramel twice as it went from boiling to burning pretty quick the 1st time. Amber and Anna were the careful watchers of the candy thermometer and recipe and also patient with doing it twice. The caramel was a little too thick in the middle of the brie to cut into it. One tester suggested poking some holes in the brie for the caramel to soak up. The leftovers of the brie were yummy with the caramel, and the presentation is fabulous. I think I’ll have to try it again to figure out what tips in the recipe and execution would make it a 5 Star.

Pastry Straws (3 Stars)

Easy to make, especially with frozen puff pastry, these straws were a nice addition for dipping into the fondue. Anna sprinkled a generous amount of cayenne on half of them, so there were a few burning mouths in the bunch.

Toasted Baguettes, Pears, Apples, Peppers

What would a party be without some fruit and bread dippers for the fondue and brie, as well as just to eat.

Corn Cups filled with Beef Chili (3.5 Stars)

These mini corncrusty cups, filled with a yummy chili were one of the hits of the party. Best warm. I’ll keep this idea in mind to do again with a little more spice in the chili and some corn kernels or cheese garnish.

Cucumbers with Spicy Crab Salad (throw)

I couldn’t find pickled ginger so I did some changes to the recipe; however, none of us liked the pairing with cucumber. It was much yummier on the toasted baguettes.

Hot Bacon Wrapped Apricots (5 Stars)

These were the hit of the party. Yummy, yummy, yummy! Tim suggested to put toothpicks in them so that less messy on the fingers (good point), and as always Amber and Anna had a great suggestion – put some cheese, maybe goat cheese, in the wrap as well.

Oriental Chicken Salad Tartlets (throw)

I’ve only been able to find frozen tartlets at one store in NYC, and when I went to get them for this party they only had 1 box. So I bought some crackers as a second option. The crackers helped give more flavor but otherwise there wasn’t much about this recipe that made it pop. Even as preparing it we were adding in extra onion and various other spices to kick it up a top.

Spicy Almonds (3 Stars)

Everyone liked the heat in these “spicy nuts.” Daniel helped make these and a few of the nuts got a little too toasty.

Butterscotch Brownies (3 Stars)

I was hoping for more of a blondie type brownie with this recipe, or as it states at least subtle butterscotch flavor. But it’s really just a brownie cookie.

Peanut Butter Swirl Cheesecake (4 Stars)

I love cheesecake and use to make them all the time. I recently went to Junior’s, famous for their cheesecake, when my cousin was in town and saw they have a cookbook, so I bought it. Since Suzi has been requesting that I make something with peanut butter, I choose this recipe out of their book. I’ll make some modifications for next time. The cheesecake was basic and fabulous and I decided to pair it with a chocolate shortcake crust. The recipe called for 2 cups peanut butter with ½ cup cream, which did not make it thin enough to easily swirl. So I’ll play with that for next time. It will also help gel the flavors a little more rather than the peanut butter chunks overpowering the cream cheese.

5 Comments (Leave a Reply)

  1. Jane (January 25, 2011)

    Everything looks delicious! I wish I could have made it.

  2. Monster Mary (January 25, 2011)

    You're so fun! Can't wait for our very own test nest. :) I think the cheesecakes sounds and looks delicious. I'm a big fan of peanut butter and chocolate. I like the new apron too.

  3. Suzi (January 25, 2011)

    What?! The brownies only got 3 stars? I blame Joon. I loved the gooey ones. Such a fun night. Even if Morgan and Amber killed my game winning strategies at Monopoly (or whatever it was we were playing).

  4. Morgan (January 25, 2011)

    Amber, as always both the concept and the execution were first rate. I look forward to seeing how this project develops in its second year. You have almost inspired me to see what the inside of a grocery store looks like – almost.

  5. Daniel (January 26, 2011)

    Delicious food, and the great photography makes it look even better! I know the cheese fondue wasn't really practical and the rating is probably appropriate considering how difficult it was to eat, but thinking back to that evening, the two dishes I remember vividly that still get my mouth watering are the bacon-wrapped apricots and the blue cheese fondue. I'm definitely going to try and make it personally.

    Also, while this is a great post, no pictures of the cut throat Monopoly game from afterwards? Three stars, and it would have gotten more had not Morgan and Amber not managed to win so convincingly.

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