Sep 24, 2010

Turn Everyday Comfort foods Gourmet for a unique and Fun Event

What's your secret guilty pleasure?

Is it Mac & Cheese?  Tomato soup with grilled cheese?   Or maybe even milk and cookies?

While these may seem like everyday comfort foods to most, they can be the most memorable at a party.  It's what everyone knows and loves and they'll appreciate that you're sharing something so unique and fun.

Here's a little secret.  At your wedding reception nobody really cares about the fork tender tenderloin.  They want fun comfort foods that they crave.  So how do you turn mac and cheese into a gourmet appetizer?  Start with an awesome gourmet recipe and turn it into bite sized portions.

Make a lobster mac and cheese with upgraded cheeses (think fontina and guierere) and even some pancetta.  After you make the mac and cheese, throw them in greased mini muffin tins and top with a bit of breadcrumbs and bake till golden.  Pop them out and serve.  Viola, you have a fantastic mac and cheese that's now a great appetizer for your guests.

Recipe for Lobster mac and cheese with pancetta - (with the option for this as an appetizer)
recipe adapted from the gourmet foodie blog
*2 seven ounce lobster tails or 1 lobster – pre-cooked and chilled in the refrigerator.
12 ounces pancetta diced
5 ounces unsalted butter
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cup whole milk
3 ounces Cheddar, shredded
3 ounces Fontina, shredded
3 ounces Gruyere, shredded
12 ounces macaroni pasta

* the original recipe called for a lobster that was uncooked and then to be cut up and put into the pan.  I cannot bring myself to kill a live lobster by cutting it open alive.  It takes all I have just to boil or steam it (but at least I find it to be a slightly more humane death).  I have adapted this recipe to pre-cook the lobster by steaming it.  You can steam lobster in a large pot by placing a small amount of water and heating the water until steam forms.  Once steaming, place your lobster in the pot with tongs (so you don't get burned) and wait.  The bigger the lobster the longer it takes to cook.  You can tell if your lobster is done by pulling on the antenna.  If it comes off clean and easily, it's done.  If you cannot pull it off, he's not ready yet.

1. Cut the butter in to once ounce cubes. Place 4 ounces of butter in a small pot and melt slowly over low heat.
2. In a small pan cook the pancetta until slightly crispy.
3. Place a pot on high heat with heavily salted water for boiling the macaroni.
4. Melt 1 ounce butter in medium sized pot over medium/high heat. Add the flour and cook for about 2 minutes stirring constantly until the mixture browns and develops a nutty smell.
5. Stir in the heavy cream and bring to a boil. Add the milk and, again, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes.
6. While this is simmering your water should have reached a roaring boil. Add macaroni to your pot of boiling salted water.
7. When your cream sauce has simmered for 3 minutes slowly add the three cheeses, a handful at a time, and stir until fully incorporated.
8. When the pasta is fully cooked pour the pasta into a colander to drain off water. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the cheese sauce. Mix well. Fold in the cooked lobster meat and pancetta; serve immediately.

To turn into an appetizer
Follow recipe above and pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees.
1. Let your mac and cheese cool, or speed up the process by placing a bowl in the fridge while preparing  for the appetizer.
2. Grease a mini-muffin pan in preparation for your mac & cheese.
3. Pour some breadcrumbs into a bowl
4. place an egg white, milk or melted butter in a dish
4. Take a mini ice cream scoop or a spoon and scoop out a bit of your mac and cheese that has been cooling.  Drop this dollop into the bowl of breadcrumbs and lightly coat your "ball" of mac & cheese.
5. Drop your "ball" into a mini muffin tin slot and lightly brush with either the egg white, milk or melted butter.  Repeat until you fill the muffin tin.
6. Place your muffin tin in the oven and watch it, checking every 5 minutes until the top starts to turn a golden brown.
7. Remove your muffin tin and pop out your mini mac and cheese appetizers with a spatula or spoon (that won't scratch the pan) and serve on a platter immediately.

Image from
Turn tomato soup and grilled cheese into a gourmet display by simply serving the tomato soup in a shot glass or martini glass with a mini wedge of the sandwich on the side.

Image from Blissful Moments
Image from the Cake Blog
Sick of the same old wedding or birthday cake?  Forgo the cake or have an additional milk & cookies bar.  Serve ice cold milk in old fashioned milk bottles set inside ice buckets.  Serve your cookies in jars and on plates that are different heights.  Personalize the look with stickers, ribbons and tags that match your theme.


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