Two Simple Appetizer Recipes From My Early Catering Days
Fun fact: my catering career started with college fraternity parties.
Okay, technically they were sorority and fraternity formals, but in college no one really seemed to grasp the difference between “formal” and “frat”, aside from the dressed up attire.
Except for me.
Not because it meant I got to don a cute new dress and get ready with my friends, blare 90’s hits, and drink bourbon and coke.
But because it meant I got to host.
Long before catering called as an actual career (I was headed to nursing school at the time), I still found myself the (only) volunteer to prepare a proper appetizer spread before a fancier event.
I would call up my mom and pick her brain for recipes and spend hours meticulously assembling displays of food for my friends.
I’ll be honest - they couldn’t have cared less; they were mostly there for the drinks. But I had a blast.
Admittedly, the food was nowhere near Pantry or KWC standards, but it was the first time I got a taste of event and party life - and long before I realized I could make a career out of it.
And now, as we’re still somewhat home-bound and experimenting with new hobbies, I’ve been reminiscing on my early adventures in cooking.
It really started a simple hobby. Something I found joy in even when most of my friends would rather skip the fancy hors d’oeuvres and get straight to the party.
I had no idea that hobby would grow into what it is today. I just knew it was something I wanted to keep experimenting with.
So, for any of you who are looking for a new COVID-friendly hobby or new experiment, I thought I’d share a couple of my early appetizer recipes.
These are two or my earlier experiments, and are a good place to start if you’re not entirely confident in the kitchen yet (and even if you are, they’re still delicious additions to your appetizer rotation!)
What new hobbies have you picked up over quarantine? Let me know in the comments!
MUSHROOMS STUFFED WITH HERB BREADCRUMBS, SHERRY, AND SWISS
¾ lb mushrooms, ROUGHLY pulsed in food processor, or finely chopped by hand
1 c chopped green onions
¼ cup sherry wine
½ cup shredded swiss or emmenthaler
½ c grated parmesan
1 cup dried breadcrumbs, from rustic bread
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 -1/2 tsp kosher salt
ground pepper, to taste
3 dozen medium mushrooms, stems removed
¼ cup toasted breadcrumbs for topping
¼ cup grated parmesan
Melt 1 T butter and 1 T oil in a large skillet. Add green onions and sauté until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, raise heat and cook until until lightly browned, 5-7 minutes. Add sherry and cook until almost dry, about 2-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Add cheeses, breadcrumbs, heavy cream, salt, and pepper. Adjust seasonings if necessary.
Stuff mushroom caps. Top each mushroom with mixed topping of breadcurmbs and pecorino. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
TOASTED ASPARAGUS SANDWICHES
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ c. mayonnaise
¼ tsp salt
¾ tsp lemon zest
Sandwich Bread – I like Pepperidge Farm “Sandwich Bread”
Mix cream cheese, mayonnaise, salt, and lemon zest. Set aside.*
Cut crusts off bread slices and roll slightly. (I like to say “approximately as thin as a powder puff”). Spread with cream cheese and place asparagus spear in the center, trimming to fit bread. Brush generously with melted butter and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 for 10 to 12 minutes.
*there will likely be more of this mix than you need, but will keep 7-10 days in the refrigerator.
Your mini grilled cheese sandwiches were amazing ! At Christi’s party ! Did Mary Clarke, per chance , ever share her Hanky Panky recipe ? Love them and tried years back to make but they were not as good as she made 😀
Kristen you are so kind to share these fabulous recipes but I think you and your team sprinkle a little extra on everything … I think it love snd kindness . Merry Christmas
Kristen, thank you for sharing your interesting stories past and present! Many thanks also for sharing your wonderful recipes with us! I hope you and your family enjoy your “Semi-Asian Thanksgiving Feast”! Sounds fabulous!
Kristen – Delighted to have your recipes! Thanks goodness for those fraternity parties giving you a push start!
We want you to keep it going! Anne Whetsell
Thank you, Kristen for sharing your recipes. We have thoroughly enjoyed your pork tenderloin! On your asparagus sandwiches, I am assuming you are using fresh asparagus. Do you very slightly parboil or use raw?
Do you fold the bread flaps over your asparagus or toast open face?
We have loved all your delicious offerings when you have helped us at our daughter’s, Ginny Younce in Nashville. I have enjoyed reading your comments and loved trying your recipes! Wish we were nearby to partake of your delivery!