Like many people, my attention has been completely occupied by the Winter Olympics spectacle since February 6. I carefully check the racing schedule before bed every night and wake up at ungodly hours to watch the live broadcast. This year there are many speed skaters competing who come from inline speed skating background. They are skaters that we met at races, some we even know personally. Last Saturday I invited my inline skating friends over for a cheering party for long track and short track speed skating races.
Obviously I did not want a fussy menu. I didn’t want to be kept in the kitchen while everyone was watching the races! I wanted nibbles that can be kept at room temperature all evening long. I wanted snacks that are easy to eat without the challenges of balancing plates, forks, and knives on the lap. Oh and boys like meat. This is my menu of dips, sticks, and bite size sweets.
Olympics Cheering Party For 10
This menu reflects my love of variety when it comes to food. Let’s begin with the selection of sauces and dips. I encored three of my old favourites including the wildly popular Mushroom Pâté. It tastes like the essence of cream of mushroom soup with just the right touch of richness. The creaminess comes from judicious use of cream cheese and cream but not weighed down. I love the umami of crimini and porcini mushrooms. My Miso Tahini Eggplant Dip is my Japanese take on baba ganoush. This vegan dip highlights the sweetness of roasted Japanese eggplants with the savoury taste of miso. It incorporates many familiar ingredients in my day to day cooking and it is a dip that I can eat a lot in one sitting. Also using tahini, the Ethereally Smooth Hummus from smitten kitchen is my latest preferred recipe for hummus. I was skeptical of peeling chickpeas but don’t diss it until you try it! It really makes a huge difference in the texture of hummus. I normally cook my own dried beans but keeping with the theme of no fussy preparations, I used canned chickpeas instead. The result is still day and night compared to store bought hummus. The Moroccan-Style Spicy Carrot Dip is a new recipe I never tried before. I had high hopes and it did not disappoint. The dip has everything that I love: spicy harissa chili sauce, lightly caramelized carrots, briny capers and green olives, golden combination of cumin, coriander, garlic, and ginger. The recipe makes a lot but I am not complaining. I can eat this vegan dip for snack, lunch, and dinner!
What was my fascination with food on sticks? I wanted to do away with cutleries. I figured an assortment on sticks would be perfect party food for a group of guys. Keeps their hands clean too to keep the mess factor to minimum! Antipasto skewers are pretty much self-explanatory. What you see is what you get. I threaded grape tomatoes, stuffed green olives, kielbasa sausage, and mozzarella cheese on sticks. Festive and appropriately colourful. My recent purchase of buffet warmer chafing dish was put to excellent use. Each container was filled with oven broiled skewers and kept warm. That flexibility freed up my time to start broiling the skewers before my friends arrive. I cannot imagine throwing a party without this handy helper! I started with Lemongrass Chicken Skewers. Chicken thighs are forgiving to cook so even slightly overcooked is just fine. The marinade is a crowd pleasing mix of lemongrass, cilantro, bird’s eye chilli, garlic, shallot, soy sauce, fish sauce. Thanks Tongue & Cheek for the recipe! Even the cold leftovers are awesome (which is what I am eating right now).
Beer and Sriracha Marinated Beef Skewers with Green Chile Sauce is a step out of my comfort zone. I rarely cook beef that doesn’t require long hours of braising. Flash broiling thin slices of flank steak was definitely a new venture for me. I sliced the flank steak across the grain on a bias for larger slices. The marinade infused the beef with coffee porter, Sriracha, lime juice, smoky chipotle and paprika. But it was the fresh spicy green chilli sauce that was the star. With a mix of poblano, serrano, bird’s eye chilli, and cilantro, it was refreshing and unexpected. The Garlicky Cashew Pork and Pineapple Skewers had an unusual take on satay sauce. Instead of peanuts, it uses luxurious cashews. The rich sauce double dutied as both dipping sauce and marinade. Besides, I can’t say no the combination of pork and pineapple.
Believe it or not, I kept the dessert selection super simple. I defrosted apricot cheesecake bars and blood orange ricotta bars from the freezer and cut them to bite size pieces. I baked a loaf of blood orange chocolate chips olive oil cake and served them in bite size pieces too. I only wanted a few bites of sweets to interrupt the salty snacks as we cheered on our skaters. The racing was exciting and I had an amazing time watching the races with friends. I think I finally found the good balance between serving great food and being able to enjoy my own party at the same time!