Party Food : Tomato Salsa and A Cheese Spread

Here are the recipes for the hors d’oeuvres that we served to friends before a recent dinner party (discussed in this post) : Tomato Salsa and a Cheese Spread

Both were made the evening before the event, making things very easy at party time.

First up is some Tomato Salsa to serve with plain tortilla chips.

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I wanted to make something that had the right consistency for easy dipping without excessive dripping. I do love a 100% fresh salsa (known as Pico de Gallo) but have found that these can be a little messy to serve at parties, because they end up being quite watery. I wanted to add some thickness to the salsa, and found the best way to do that was to combine a cooked component with a fresh one.

Basically, I cooked some finely chopped onion and garlic in olive oil and then added finely chopped and well drained canned tomatoes. This mixture was seasoned with cumin, salt, fresh lemon juice and cooked until all the liquid was evaporated. Then this mixture was allowed to cool. To that I stirred in one finely chopped flesh of a fresh tomato, (with its seeds removed), and some fresh hot pepper to taste — I used one cayenne pepper but a jalapeno or scotch bonnet would work too. If you’d like some fresh coriander could also be added, however I left that out because I knew one of our guests wasn’t big on the taste of it.

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The next item, a Cheese Spread with Hungarian flavouring.

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I have a distinct memory of being a child and my mother making this for no reason at all, except that she’d been given the recipe. So, there we were, eating party food when there was no party going on.

The recipe came via a friend of my brother’s — he and his family had immigrated to Canada from Hungary and the recipe was an old family one. What I also recall about this recipe was that it was the first time my parents had ever bought capers. Nowadays, Nick and I always have a jar of them on the go, using them a lot mostly in pasta dishes, but back then this was an exotic ingredient with an unfamiliar flavour.

The spread, which I’ve discovered is called ‘Korozott Juhturo’ in Hungary, is a combination of cream cheese, butter, raw onion, capers, paprika, mustard, caraway seeds and BEER! I served them with plain salted-reduced Triscuit wholewheat crackers, but it could also be served with thin slices of bread.

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Our guests enjoyed both things and I ended up replenishing both bowls, which is a good sign that they were tasty!

Here are the recipes :

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I can only include one recipe card per post, so here are the instructions for the

Hungarian Cheese Spread :

1/4 pound butter (1/2 cup or around 115 grams) – brought to room temperature so it’s soft-ish.
1/4 pound cream cheese (1/2 cup around 115 grams or 1/2 a standard sized block) – also brought to room temperature so it’s soft-ish.
1 tablespoon very finely chopped onion.
3/4 tsp paprika – that is sweet paprika. If you only have hot, adjust to taste.
1/2 tsp mustard.
1/2 tsp caraway seeds, crushed if you have a mortar and pestle, or left whole.
5 capers finely chopped.
A bit of salt if needed, noting that the butter, capers and mustard are already pretty salty.
About 2 tablespoons beer, or what is needed to bring it to a nice spreadable consistency.

Roughly cut cheese and butter into cubes and place them in a bowl. Blend them together using a hand-blender or some elbow grease. Add other ingredients except beer and mix will. Add beer to bring mixture to right consistency. Refrigerate until ready to serve — overnight is fine.

This makes about a cup, but recipe can easily be doubled. It keeps well for a few days. Note: spread will be a bit crumbly rather than smooth and creamy. Serve with crackers or bread.

Thank you for checking out my post. I hope you have a great weekend!
xo Loulou

Posted in Party Food and Drinks, Recipes | 4 Comments

Table For Ten : Our First Larger Dinner Party

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Something that Nick and I have talked about doing for a while is to host a larger dinner party. We do regularly have people over to eat but, with a few exceptions, it has always been one or two at a time. However along the lines of ‘the more the merrier’ we thought it would be fun to get a larger group together, so we made a goal to put all five leaves, that have been gathering dust under the sofa, into our dining table and gather a bunch of good people around it for a meal. That happened on Saturday evening, when a group of ten (including us) got together.

It turns out that we worked well together in this effort, and it went well, with no hitches. It was a good time and I’m sure we’ll be doing it again.

We planned for an early dinner and invited guests to arrive around 2pm in the afternoon. This was partially due to us wanting to catch some sunlight, since we have no overhead lamps in our living room where the table was to be set, but also to give everyone an early night, as the following morning, Easter Sunday, was likely to be an early start for some.

The party began with a couple of hors d’oeuvres, salsa and chips and a cheese spread, that I made the evening before. (I’ll be putting both recipes up in my next post). Rum punch ice-tea cocktails (here), wine or beer were offered to drink.

While I had set up some seating areas in the living room, everyone chose to hang out in the kitchen, where Nick was putting the finishing touches on the meal.

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He made a turkey with stuffing and gravy, mashed potatoes, roasted carrots, peas and corn, cranberry sauce (here) and some bread rolls.

We laid it all out on the kitchen table where everyone helped themselves, and then found their place at the dinning table. (We used the place-card holders I demonstrated in this post.)

The table was decorated with an assortment of figurines, some vintage, some gifts, and some thrifted. The little chicks in a shell are salt shakers, so they served a purpose as well as looked cute.

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I started this hyacinth bulb, that came dry in a box, on January 31, by placing it in water a special jar that came with it, and leaving it in a dark cool place. Over the past 2 months, roots grew and then a green bit sprouted. I brought it out of the dark last week, and as luck would have it, it was in perfect flower for the party. It’s the first time I’ve tried forcing a hyacinth and I was pretty surprised that it worked so well.

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Also by chance, my little white African Violet, which blooms on its own mysterious schedule, got a flower for the occasion too.

Further on the flower front, the mini daffodils were purchased at the green-grocer on Thursday. The buds were closed up tightly at the time, but opened nicely for Saturday.

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Leslie brought dessert, a chocolate layer cake with a Bailey’s icing. Look how perfect it was and it tasted wonderful too. The lady is good! It was served with vanilla ice-cream.

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After dinner, we sat around the table, talking until it got dark. There may have been a bottle of Jagermeister there too.

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For the record, there was a steady downfall of big fluffy snowflakes happening outside the windows, but we were cozy inside, enjoying each other’s company.

Thanks very much for checking out my post. I hope you had a great Easter weekend, if you celebrate it.
xo loulou

Posted in Dinner Details, Having a Party, Holidays : Easter | 12 Comments