First things first, if you have the slightest doubt that this was a HUGE day of cooking--
This was our list of recipes that we would make. I needed the organization and it included how much cook time, fridge time, and prep time each item would take. I greatly underestimated the prep time of some of the foods (I'm talking to you, samosas and dolmas). Some of the items got knocked off the list as we cooked and ran out of time (Swedish meatballs, cupcakes) and I've blogged about other items before (Blue cheese dressing, honey mustard).
My mom had watched a tv segment on cream cheese covered in hot pepper jelly that she thought we should make. I happened to have a big jar of dad's homemade green pepper jelly that I had not idea what to do with. This was the result:
It was amazing! I thought green pepper jelly sounded horrible but it tastes almost nothing like hot pepper and is super sweet! It was so good on crackers! Dad gave me another big jar of it and I am going to make this at home in the future.
Rachel's cat was also being helpful:
There is something very strange to me about a savory cheesecake. I adore cheesecake. In fact, I would say that cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts. But Pesto cheesecake (p. 76)? It seemed so strange. TJOC gives no indication on how to eat it either--do you just take a slice? Or do you smear it on something? This was high on my list of "when am I ever going to make this" so when Rachel mentioned we should make something that I wouldn't normally make, it was the first thing to pop into my mind. The only experience I had with savory cheesecake was when Melissa of Melissa Cooks Gourmet made a green chili version.
The recipe wasn't difficult but was time-consuming. I combined pesto (store-bought) with ricotta cheese, sour cream, eggs, salt, lemon zest, nutmeg, and black pepper. I then poured the mixture into a springform pan that had been buttered and sprinkled with breadcrumbs:
It was then cooked in a waterbath:
And refrigerated for six hours (yes, six hours. Give yourself lots of lead time with this recipe). We popped the springform pan off, smeared more pesto on the top, and decorated it with sundried tomatoes:
We are such dorks! It seemed like the perfect decoration for the party. I would recommend this cheesecake to everybody who likes pesto. If you like pesto, this cheesecake will be a big hit. If you don't, it's going to be the most disgusting thing you've ever tasted. Rachel and I both liked it and I think it would have been even better if we had made it in an 8-inch pan instead of the 9-inch pan I had with me. I think you just eat it in slices, like sweet cheesecake. It was actually a very beautiful dish (but not a very popular one).
Pigs in a blanket (p. 91) are one of those foods that EVERYBODY seems to like but me. I don't know what it is about them but they just don't appeal to me. That being said, they seem to appeal to everyone else--we even had them as a hors d'oeuvres at the wedding (and got tons of compliments). I decided that they would be perfect for the party.
I took a can of refridgerated crescent roll dough, unrolled it, and cut it into pieces (ignoring the perferated lines). I then wrapped the dough around cocktail franks.
Each batch of the piggies made about a cookie sheets worth.
Popped into the oven, they puffed!
I made honey mustard sauce to go with them. They were a HUGE hit. They were so much of a hit that Rachel's boyfriend asked us to hide the rest of them so they weren't all gone before everyone got to the party. We did as he asked and people still hunted them down! The pigs in a blanket were absolutely the most popular thing at the party, which I think is a little ironic. We made all these difficult dishes that took hours and yet the pigs in a freakin' blanket are the first things eaten!
I thought Curried nuts (p. 70) seemed interesting and Rachel agreed. She pointed out that she didn't really like the curry mix she had (the real question is, why did we continue on at this point?).
Curry powder, cayenne, and butter were mixed together:
And the nuts were mixed in. The nuts (I used almonds from a friend's farm and store-bought peanuts and cashews) were roasted for about seven minutes.
We didn't have any parchment paper, so we just used aluminum foil--it's not quite as good but it worked okay. The nuts were strange because the curry powder wasn't very good--I think they would have been amazing if we would have used my own curry mixture. I've really never tried my hand at high-end nuts but it was much, much cooler than just putting out a bowl of salted mixed nuts. If I had a high-end lounge, these would totally be on the table, along with Rosemary and brown sugar nuts (p. 70). Rosemary and brown sugar nuts were made much the same way as curried nuts, except for a rosemary/brown sugar/corn syrup/butter mixture instead of the curry mixture:
I roasted them:
The corn syrup made them beautiful and glossy. Rosemary and brown sugar are unexpected flavors when it comes to nuts but they were absolutely delicious. I would make these again in a heartbeat. Again, they seemed very high-end. I think it would be even better with macadamia nuts, cashews, and pecans, but that's probably because those are my three favorite nuts.