The year is almost over and the holidays are around the corner and that means that the time is ripe for entertaining. Our lives are so crowded with multiple tasks and chores, so who has time to entertain? And, if one entertains, what is the easiest way to do it? In this issue we give you tips for entertaining easily and with style. We also give you a gourmet recipe to finish any meal with finesse.
Before going into the entertaining tips I want to share with you some anecdotes from my last trip, which I hope you enjoy. I just returned from Antigua, Guatemala, the first capital of the country which was destroyed by a volcano, and now remains a charming and beautiful colonial city in ruins located in a valley and surrounded with mountains and volcanoes and with almost perfect weather. This ancient city is home to many Americans and Europeans who are attracted to Antigua by her mystique, traditions, and long history. It is undoubtedly a culinary capital as well with many exquisite classic stews, and two of the most important industries in Guatemala, coffee and dulces tipicos (traditional hand-made sweet confections).
While in Antigua I had the pleasure of touring a coffee plantation and saw the process of growing coffee from the beginning to the end —and even had a tasting of the freshest and most delicious coffee afterwards! Antigua is known for high quality coffee which is the result of various contributing factors, including weather, altitude, volcanic soil and traditional techniques. Filadelfia Coffee Resort and Spa is in the heart of the plantation adding to an even more pleasing experience. Guatemala is in the top ten high quality coffee producers in the world. There’s much to know about the coffee world –and some of the quality judging characteristics almost resemble those of judging great wines: Aroma, Flavor, Body, Acidity, and Post-taste.
The origin of coffee is Ethiopia and from there it spread to other parts of the world through explorers, colonizers, and traders. The coffee species that grows in Guatemala is from the Arabica plant (the best in the world); however, when young, the plant is inserted (spliced) into the Robusta coffee plant whose roots are more resistant to disease. The Arabica plant is a delicate plant that requires much care. Growing and processing coffee is a long process lasting several years. Yield varies for young and older plants and harvest time (and processing time) is a labor intensive chore as it is done entirely by hand!
Hoping that I have enticed you to visit Antigua and Filadelfia Coffee Resort and Spa some day, or that at least I made you want a delicious cup of freshly ground and brewed coffee (preferably from Guatemala!), I am leaving you today with a delightful coffee recipe.
Please take the time to logon to our website at www.cookparty.com for the latest listing of upcoming events. Happy Thanksgiving!! Saludos, Amalia.
Tips for entertaining easily and with style!
• Make a simple plan (menu/drinks)
• Stick to 3-4 dishes or appetizers
• Hire a bartender
• Take good care of your guests (hire help to pass food around/pick up after them)
• Take the time to relax and to have a good time!!!
RECIPE OF THE MONTH
Although traditionally a French drink, it can be easily Latinized by adding Latin flavors. Brûlot means burned and this refers to the caramelized sugar. Traditionally it is made in a copper pot, but it can be made in a stainless steel pot as well. The drink is not only delicious, but it can be a good show, too.
1 tbsp. sugar
The rind of half an orange studded with 3 whole cloves
¼ cup Grand Marnier
½ Mexican cinnamon stick
2 cups of freshly ground and brewed Guatemalan coffee
½ cup Kahlúa
In a stainless steel pot, melt the sugar to caramel point, add the orange to coat lightly with the caramelized sugar, cinnamon, Grand Marnier, and set aflame. Shortly after, add the coffee and stir well. Distribute the Kahlúa between the two cups and pour the hot coffee on top using a strainer to catch the cinnamon, orange rind and whole cloves. Salud!
Friday, November 7, 2008, 6-9 p.m.
Small Plates: French with A Twist
Entertain this holiday season with ease and elegance. Amalia will introduce you to a selection of small plate dishes that bring together formal French flavors and the flair of Latin cuisine. Steak with Chimichurri Butter; Crêpes with Dulce de Leche; Crab cakes with Lemon and Serrano Salsa; Chicken Bonbons with Jalapeño Glaze; Chayote Squash, Tomatillos, & Poblano Pepper Confit; Eggplant Caviar with Yucca Chips; Café Brulôt (spiced coffee with Kahlúa and flamed with Grand Marnier).
Register at: Cooks of Crocus Hill, Edina
3925 West 50th Street Edina, MN: (952) 285-1903
Monday, November 24, 2008, 6-8:30 p.m.
Favoritos de America Latina
Exquisito and caliente! This menu promises to generate rave reviews from your guests. Tostadas de guacamol (avocados, lime, herbs cheese, crispy corn tortillas, the Guatemalan way); Tortillas con carne asada (soft corn tortillas, grilled steak strips with spicy Criolla pepper salsa; Ceviche de Mariscos (seafood, vegetables and fresh herbs marinated in hot chile-citrus sauce); Delicia de Dulce de Leche (caramel milk, cream and chocolate).
Register at: Royal Pantry Cooking School, Hopkins
1001 Highway 7, Eisenhower Community Center: Room 206
Hopkins, MN: (952) 988-4018
back to top
Monday, December 1, 2008, 11 a.m.-2 p.m
From the Andes to the Amazon, South America is an adventurer’s dream, with a great diversity in topography, culture, and gastronomy. Join us for a journey through a diverse cuisine influenced by native Indian, African and European fare. Pabellón Criollo (Venezuelan shredded beef with rice and beans); Caraotas Negras (black beans with vegetables and spices); Arroz Blanco Venezolano (Venezuelan white rice); Tajadas (Pan fried plantains); Arepas (corn cakes). Participation class.
Register at: Edina Community Education
South View Middle School: Door 4, Room 205
Edina, MN 55424: (651) 438-0880
Saturday, December 13, 2008, 6 – midnight
Merry Gatherings with cocina fantastica for a night with very jolly guests! Attendees enjoy a cross cultural menu at the home of a hospitable host in Chaska.
Monday, December15, 2008, 6-9 p.m.
Latin Holiday Entertaining
Relax while you sip on a glass of fine wine and enjoy delicious cuisine focused on Latin cheeses. Fresh and versatile, this cheesy menu, will pair very well with South American wines.
Mordidas de Queso y Patacones (spicy queso blanco bites with plantain chips); Chilaquilas de Tortilla (pan-fried fresh corn tortillas stuffed with queso fresco and sofrito sauce and wrapped in egg batter); Sopa de frijoles con Cotija (black bean soup with dried cheese); and for dessert, Queso Frito con Miel, Piña y chile (fried cheese, honey and spicy pineapple-rum flambé).
Register at: Cooks of Crocus Hill, Edina
877 Grand Avenue St. Paul MN: (651) 228-1333