DON'T HIRE A CATERER: SPRING HORS D'OEUVRE

By Georgette Farkas

Georgette Farkas is officially our Culinary Ambassador at Great Performances, but we’ve also crowned her our Hospitality Maven. Drawing upon her experiences working at leading restaurants and spearheading her eponymous Rotisserie Georgette, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. In addition to everything she does at GP across all teams, she also regularly entertains at home, creating incredible dishes that have that extra special touch that makes the food even more memorable and delicious.

In this series, Georgette shares tips from the caterer’s tool kit to make entertaining at home (almost) effortless. From time saving shortcuts and grocery store secrets to garnishing hacks and presentation magic, she’ll help you host a party that’ll make your guests feel extra special and that you’ll actually be able to enjoy.

She’s also curated recipes for you, highlighting the tips she’s shared. Each month look for dishes and ideas that would be delicious on their own, but that together make up menus that will have you entertaining like a pro.

The arrival of spring means a seasonal shift in my cooking. Seasonal ingredients popping up at the market lead to trying out new spring ideas. The prospect of just enough warm air and sunshine to entertain outdoors provides added encouragement. I never need an excuse to give a party, but the Kentucky Derby provides an excellent one, even if you’re not a horse racing afficionado. The speed and grace of the thoroughbreds and the festive attire in the stands are enough for me. Mother’s Day is yet another. My own mother, Francine, is a home entertaining wizard, who makes everything as beautiful as it is delicious, which keeps me on my toes when I’m cooking for her.

I first created savory madeleines during a summer rosé festival that called for bar snack to accompany a well chilled glass of wine. My original recipe was seasoned with Parmesan and herbes de Provence. I’ve given this new cheddar – pimento version a Southern accent just right for a Kentucky Derby party. They call for madeleine pans, which I find a worthy investment. I highly recommend the non-stick version. I shared the recipe with a friend who claims they freeze well. Whether you bake ahead, freeze and re-heat or bake fresh just before serving, be sure to serve these madeleines warm, right from the oven.

The first spring peas in the market and the first sprigs of mint coming up in my garden resulted in the Minted Peas, Bacon and Endive Hors d’oeuvre. You could leave out the crispy bacon, but what a shame that would be. If you’re throwing a Kentucky Derby party, these would be delicious alongside some mint julep cocktails. There are so many ways you could serve the green pea mixture, which could be adapted to a spread or a dip or even a tartlet filling. I intend to try it in savory mini cones, which I pass to guests on a sort of artist’s palate that serves as a cone holder. The purple endive version here felt just right for home entertaining. It adds a bold color contrast and just a hint of bitterness to offset the natural sweetness of the peas.

 

RECIPE: SAVORY CHEDDAR-PIMENTO MADELEINES

Makes 75 miniature madeleines

 I first created these savory madeleines during a summer rosé festival as a tasty bar snack to serve with a glass of well chilled wine. My original recipe called for Parmesan and herbes de Provence. I’ve giving this new cheddar – pimento version a Southern accent just right for a Kentucky Derby party. Yes, they do call for madeleine pans, which I find a worthy investment. I highly recommend the non-stick version. Be sure to serve these madeleines warm, right from the oven.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 cup finely grated cheddar cheese
  • ½ tsp finely ground white pepper
  • 3 oz (6 Tbsp) melted butter + some to grease pans
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • ¼ cup pimento, well drained, minced
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Dash Tabasco sauce

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 375֯.
  2. Measure and sift together: flour, white pepper, tartar, baking powder, thyme and salt.
  3. Melt butter and set aside.
  4. Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, beat together eggs and sugar. Add dry ingredients and blend well. Add melted butter, blending until fully incorporated. Add cheddar cheese and chopped pimento, mixing just enough to incorporate evenly.
  5. Place batter in a piping bag. No tip needed.
  6. Butter madeleine pans, or spray with a non-stick baking spray. Pipe the batter into madeleine pans.
  7. Bake at 375֯ for approximately 6-8 minutes or until golden brown. Make sure to remove baked madeleines from pans immediately so they do not stick.

RECIPE: MINTED PEAS AND ENDIVE HORS D'OEUVRE

Serves 4

Seeing the first spring peas in the market and the first sprigs of mint coming up in my garden inspired me to make these simple hors d’oeuvre. Of course you could leave out the crispy bacon, but what a shame that would be. If you’re throwing a Kentucky Derby party, these would be delicious alongside some mint julep cocktails.

Ingredient

  • 6 oz English peas, shelled
  • 3 Tbsp plain yogurt, preferably not low fat
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped, reserving 12 small leaves as garnish
  • 1 strip bacon, cooked until crisp, finely chopped
  • 1 head red or white endive, base timed and leaves separated
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Procedure

  1. Cook peas in well salted boiling water until tender, but still bright green, approximately 8 minutes. Shock in ice water and drain.
  2. Set aside a few peas to leave whole as garnish. Place remaining peas, yogurt and chopped mint in a mini food processor. Blend to form a smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you don’t have a mini food processor, chop peas with a knife to form a coarse paste and then transfer to a small bowl with yogurt and mint and proceed as above.
  3. Place a spoonful of minted peas in the center of each endive. This is most easily done using two teaspoons to form small quenelles. Garnish each one with crispy bacon, a few whole peas and a fresh mint leaf.