Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Darlinghurst: Detritus: A Darlinghurst Cocktail & Tea Party

I am feeling rather exhausted at the moment so please forgive me if you think this post is indulgent. It's not really about Darlinghurst, but it is set in Darlinghurst.
Part of the reason for my tired state is that I hosted a Cocktail and Tea Party on Saturday. The number one rule for such parties should be that the hostess does not have to go to work on the day prior to the party. Because not only did I have to go to the office, I had to work until midnight, so there was some mad-dash baking going on until the early hours of Saturday morning. I also had to work on Sunday. Silly me.
Because I have been bound to the stove, I have not been able to have Darlinghurst adventures, so you will just have to make do with this post: A Darlinghurst Cocktail and Tea Party!
The party was set for Saturday at 2pm for a small group of eight old school chums in honour of one old top who was visiting Australia for the first time in four years. 
I searched the internet for suitable cocktail-food and canapes recipes but in the end decided to go with some old Darlinghurst party favourites, and I thought I would share the menu and four recipes with you.

My friend Sarah has a food blog, Billie Bites, and I would have preferred to have made her excellent Tofu Pecan ''Sausage'' Rolls, instead of my boring Spinach and Ricotta Tart, but I do not have a food processor and didn't have time to borrow one.
Maybe next time.
First up, here is the recipe for some savoury tartlets, which look good, are easy to make and taste delicious.
INGREDIENTS (makes 48 tartlets):
4 tablespoons of olive oil
5 large brown onions
4 tablespoons of brown sugar
4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
6 sheets of commercial puff pastry
*You will also need baking paper
Dice onions finely and throw in to a big pot with the olive oil and some salt and sweat over a low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. When the onions are soft and clear, add the brown sugar and balsamic vinegar and stir over the low heat for 10 minutes.

Put the onions in to a strainer to drain off the excess liquid.

While the onions are resting, prepare your baking paper, by folding in to strips as wide as a small drinking glass, then trace around the glass with a pen, and using scissors, cut out 48 circles.

Use the same glass to cut 48 circles of puff pastry. Then place the circle of pastry on the baking paper circle and push in to a tartlet baking tray. I bought my tray at Coles and it has 24 circles, so I had to prepare and cook the tartlets in two batches.

Before adding the onion, place the pastry tartlets in to a pre-heated 180 degree Celsius oven and cook for 8 minutes.

They will come out looking all puffed up, but don't freak out, just use the back of a teaspoon to turn them back in to little cups, ready for the caramelised onion.

Use the same teaspoon to spoon the caramelised onions in to the pastry:

Place the tray back in to the oven for ten minutes. 

I prepared these on Thursday and then on the day of the party, I stuck them back in to the oven for a further 10 to 15 minutes.
Sprinkle the tartlets with goat's feta before serving and if you like, you can also place a little length of cut chive on each tartlet. I forgot to buy chives, but they still looked good.

1 loaf of soft white bread (no name brand will do)
1 large can of red salmon
Half a small red onion, diced
Half a jar of good egg mayonnaise
1 handful of capers
1 squeeze of lemon
Pinch of salt and pepper
Soft butter
Make sure to remove the back-bone from the red salmon. You don't want gritty sandwiches. I also remove that horrible looking brown salmon flesh.
Place the red salmon, diced red onion, mayonnaise, capers, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl and use a fork to mix all the ingredients in to a smoothish paste.
Butter all the bread and for each sandwich, spread with about 1 tablespoon of the salmon mix. I made these on Friday night and then wrapped all the sandwiches - in lots of three - in cling wrap. On the day of the party, I simply unwrapped them, cut the crusts off and then cut them diagonally in to two triangles.

After making the sandwiches I set to work on the 
INGREDIENTS (makes two tarts):
One bunch of spinach - it's actually white silver beet, but who cares
1 cup of grated tasty cheese
1 500gm tub of ricotta
10 free range eggs
2 splashes of olive oil
3 sheets of frozen puff pastry
Chop up the white silver beet, throw in to a large pot with some olive oil and cook on a medium heat until soft. Put the cooked silver beet in to a mixing bowl and add the tasty cheese, ricotta, eggs and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Use a wooden spoon to mix all the ingredients thoroughly. 
Place some baking paper in to two round tart baking dishes or cake tins. Line the dishes or tin with a sheet of puff pastry. Cut the third sheet of puff pastry in to four strips and use these to line the edges of the dishes or tin. Before adding the silver beet mixture, place the pastry in to a pre-heated 180 degree Celsius oven for about 12 minutes. Then add the spinach mixture and cook for a further 20 minutes. 
Once again, I made these the day before the party and simply stuck them back in to the oven for 20 minutes to warm them up. 

While the spinach was cooking I also boiled two oranges in preparation for my Orange and Almond Cakelets with Lime Icing.

The cakelets (on the middle tray above) were a bit of a disaster because unlike the Caramelised Onion and Feta Tartlets, I forgot to line the tin with baking paper. Idiot. Don't make the same mistake as me. I had to jimmy them out of the tin with a butter knife, so they ended up looking rather strange. I actually gave up on them and went to my favourite Darlinghurst cake shop, Strawberry Cream (at 336 Victoria Street), and bought six colourful petit fours ($2.50 each; on the top tray above) to replace my mess. But when I returned home I couldn't bear the waste of throwing out my cakelets, so I instead disguised their bad looks with some lime icing. 
I was given a small bottle of food-grade lime oil by a man who has an Amphore essential oil stand at the Kings Cross Saturday Market, and this was the perfect opportunity to experiment.

INGREDIENTS (makes 14 cakelets):
2 oranges
5 free range eggs
1.25 cups of castor sugar
2.5 cups of almond meal
1 teaspoon of baking powder
Pure icing sugar
Lime oil
Baking paper!
Place the two oranges in a saucepan and boil for one hour. Peel off the orange skin and puree the flesh. Using a cake mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together, then add the orange puree, almond meal and baking powder. Mix well. As with the Caramelised Onion and Goat's Feta Tartlets, make 24 small circles out of baking paper. Place the baking paper round in to the tartlet tin and spoon in some of the cake mixture. Fill each tartlet hole up to about 2-3mm from the top to allow for the cakelets to rise.
Bake for 40-45 minutes in a pre-heated 170 degree Celsius oven.
Make two batches of icing as per the directions on the bag of pure icing mix. Add about five drops of lime oil to the icing mix. When the cakelets are cool, take them out of the tin and spread each one with icing. 

If you can judge a party by the amount of food people eat and how long they stay for, this little studio apartment soiree was a success. It started at 2pm and the last people did not leave until after 10pm. Most of the food was eaten, including a cheese plate. The only food left over was some Dainty Salmon Sandwiches, which had dried out during the course of the party and did not look or feel all that appetising.
If you have any recipes for cocktail party food that you'd like to share, please do, as I don't think I want to see another Silver Beet Tart or Dainty Salmon Sandwich for at least two years.


Billie Bites said...

Very professional. My mouth is watering onto my keyboard. Thanks for the great pics demonstrating how to make it all.
When is your next party? Billie would love to come and eat all the pies.

TIP: You can make the tofu pecan rolls with a hand blender if you don't have a processor. Most kitchens stock them. If yours doesn't I know what to get you for a belated birthday present.

Unknown said...

I don't have a hand blender either. But don't you need a food processor for the pecans?

Billie Bites said...

nah. They are soft nuts and the hand blender can cope with them

Anonymous said...

What an amazing spread Violet! How do you do it? You are superwoman. I am sure you have just created the return of afternoon tea. I heard they have afternoon teas at Leichhardt Town Hall on the weekends with tea readers.