Thursday, October 1, 2009

Warming the House

Well, we’re finally all settled in. Sort of. Basically, I planned a housewarming party, complete with evite and hors d'oeuvre menu… before we actually had things unpacked and settled. The bad part was that we rushed and drove each other nuts trying to get everything done in such a short amount of time, amidst other craziness like Brit’s wedding. The good part was that we actually got a kick in the pants to get our place put together, which maybe would have never happened otherwise. The great part is that I got to host a housewarming party in our new apartment, and prepare an awesome menu of Asian inspired hors d'oeuvres for our friends to enjoy (and praise).

My hors d'oeuvres were by no means authentically Asian, yet they followed an Asian theme, using pan-Asian flavors. The first thing I knew I absolutely had to make was Rumaki. Mel and John used to make Rumaki all the time when I was a kid- much to my pleasure and Amanda’s disgust. Rumaki is basically a mock-Polynesian hors d'oeuvre, consisting of soy-marinated chicken liver and water chestnuts wrapped with bacon. DELISH! While my mouth watered at the thought of Rumaki, in all its livery glory, I wasn’t so sure my guests would feel the same way. Therefore…Mock-Rumaki with chicken breast pieces in place of the liver was born… or Rumocki, if you will.

Next came the fresh Vietnamese-style spring rolls. I remember first trying these little diddies in high school. Amanda loved them so much she immediately went home and learned how to make them. I, on the other hand, didn’t care much for them (what…where’s all the fried awesomeness of an eggroll!?). Years later, with a more mature palate (and a more mature metabolism) I’ve come to love fresh spring rolls, preferring them over their greasy, hip-widening counterpart. My favorites have fresh veggies and tofu… but for the party I stuck with just veggies, filling my tapioca wrappers with a schmear of hoison, leafy lettuce, matchstick carrots, green onions, basil, cilantro, and rice noodles. The spring rolls were a total hit, the freshness and simplicity of them countering the bacony Rumocki.

I wanted a little something for the carnivores and herbivores to nosh on, so in addition to the Rumocki, I made ginger beef skewers with peanut dipping sauce, and in addition to the spring rolls I made teriyaki sautéed mushrooms and broiled tofu.

The final item on the menu, thrown together at the last moment, ended up being the belle of the ball. I had planned to make mini cabbage egg rolls, but the rolling wasn’t going so hot. After failed attempts and a small temper tantrum, I pulled out my mini cupcake pan. I cut the egg roll wrappers in squares, pushed them into the cupcake pan, forming little cups, filled them with cream cheese and sautéed cabbage, and popped them into oven until the wrappers were browned. I then mixed some sweet chili sauce (which I had purchased to dip the eggrolls in) with cut up mango and green onions, and spooned that on top of the cabbage filled cups. It was a pretty simple last minute improvisation, but everyone gave it the thumbs up.

All in all, the housewarming was a success. Amanda and Jim brought cookies, and Vanessa brought brownies. We also got a LOT of wine, and had a great time. With all our friends, and some awesome food, the party was a perfect way to celebrate our new place!

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