Last week I shared the my youngest daughter and I had been inspired to come up with a unique idea to help create a better world, and select a Summer Sunlight Activity we’d like to do together to make our household more sustainable. Pairing the challenge with her love for the kitchen, we decided to make our challenge One Ingredient, Five Ways which will help eliminate food waste in our home.
While participating in a cooking challenge at the Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Innovation Center, we were inspired by Brazilian appetizers and came up with this play on the traditional monte cristo recipe. It’s made with guava paste which pairs so perfectly with the saltiness of the ham inside. Puff Pastry sheets replaced bread and this buttery, flaky flavor means all of your guests will love these — kids and adults!
I had never worked with guava paste before. It is a really interesting ingredient and added just the right amount of sweetness to this sandwich.
Over the past six months, I’ve been collaborating with Pepperidge Farm and sharing my original recipes using Puff Pastry. Along the way, my readers were asked to submit ideas for recipes they would like to create using puff pastry and just a few weeks ago one reader (Sharon from Cupcakes and Cutlery!) got the news she would be heading with me to the Pepperidge Farms Innovation Center to compete in our own version of a Top Chef inspired cooking challenge.
We arrived with several other bloggers and guests for a day of inspiration, taste testing and recipe development! Above is Sharon and I in the Pepperidge Farm test kitchen. It was SO cool!
With aprons tied, we worked together to create two dishes that would be presented to the judges. Our mission was to create two recipes each inspired by a new food trend –Brazilian influence and using Greek yogurt in a savory dish. Above were our two dishes.
Setting up for a nice buffet might sound simple enough, though your efforts could very easily result in a display that looks more chaotic than clever. Avoid confusion and traffic jams in your buffet line by planning ahead. Eliminate the common sight of guests reaching for plates and back-tracking for utensils that they missed along the way. Here are some simple tips for buffet table set up for your next party.
Before your guests can begin to dish up their meal, they will need a plate. Stack plates at one end of the table so that guests have access to these first. Also, if you are using disposable plates remember to choose heavier ones so that the food actually stays on the plate and guests can easily carry them. I have a collection of white dinner plates that I always use when entertaining. It looks a lot nicer (and they are more sturdy) than paper plates. Investing in some simple white plates is a great idea, they will match any party and are a timeless choice.
Serve dishes that your guests understand and recognize. If you decide to serve a dish that your guests may not be familiar with, create a place card so guests can easily identify the dish. Also, make sure each dish has a coordinating serving utensil so guests can easily (and quickly) dish up their food. If you have a lot of food but not a lot of space, place the food at different heights. See below for some of my favorite serving pieces.
At the other end of your buffet table (opposite of the plates), place the silverware. Only provide utensils that your guests will need to use. If a knife is not needed, don’t offer one. This will avoid confusion and lighten the carrying load for guests. To make the grab-and-go of the silverware a breeze, wrap each set up in one napkin and secure it with a piece of ribbon or twine. Condensing the utensils and napkin will make it easier for guests to carry their plates to their seats.
Entertaining guests? A crudite platter is always a great choice when preparing light appetizers, especially this time of year! Our own garden is beginning to really take off and one of our favorite things to do is serve up what we’ve grown. Until then, we enjoy heading to the local farmers’ market and picking up veggies. Select your favorite veggies and feel free to be creative! One idea is to make a serving bowl from an artichoke–it makes for great dip presentation.
To make the artichoke bowl, you simply use a knife to cut the center out of the artichoke. You’ll want to use a very sharp pairing knife. Once you’ve removed most of the leaves, use a metal spoon to hallow out the center before filling with your favorite dip or hummus.
What? I had you at bacon. I figured that might happen.
I recently decided since everything is better with bacon, that must be true about french fries as well. I was right, these babies are deliciously sinful. The bacon flavor combined with the crispy fry …. so good. Dip them in your favorite dipping sauce (recipe for this Sriracha mayo below) and you have a winner.