It started out as an attempted pot luck, however we quickly forgot to mention bringing a dish to our friends (although two friends who are amazing in the kitchen brought a loaf of grainy no-knead bread, some spiced gouda and a tres leches cake that were all fantastic!).
A few things were quickly added to the list - some asparagus tossed in a satay pan for a few minutes with salt, pepper and olive oil then sprinkled with parmesan (adapted from an Ina Garten recipe), some meats from the Italian Centre that ended up being prosciutto and capicollo and a few different cheeses.
We were searching for other things though - finger foods that were relatively quick and easy to make that we would want to eat lots of if there were leftovers. Luckily a couple weeks ago Foodie Suz mentioned the pastry chef David Lebovitz and his blog in one of her write ups. I was immediately hooked as she suggested anyone would be; his write ups about living and eating in Paris are humerous and light hearted and include a wide range of recipes and food thoughts.David Lebovitz' Baba Ganoush (please click on the link below for his more beautiful picture)
A little while ago he wrote up two recipes that I decided would be a great addition to the food table - Baba Ganoush and Spanikopita. The baba ganoush turned out well - especially after being spread on our friends' no-knead bread - but I'm hoping to borrow someone's bbq this summer to get some more roasted flavour out of the eggplant. The spanikopita tasted great. It was my second attempt with the stuff, and the first recipe I ever tried was full of egg, but this was rich and creamy with a crispy phyllo outside (I used some Fairwinds Farm feta that worked out great... plus the container of it I found at Planet Organic was exactly the quantity required for the recipe).
David Lebovitz' Spanikopita
I also figured some sort of cake was in order. After dropping $3 per cupcake at Flirt last month, I finally decided to make my own... buying 2 dozen cupcakes from Flirt wasn't all that appealing, and the $70 price tag wasn't in my budget. A couple people have mentioned to me over the past couple years that it is depressing to make your own birthday cake, but I have to disagree - I really like to bake, and making my own means I get to choose what to make and what to put in it. If you really don't like doing it then maybe it is a bit depressing...
The first cupcake recipe I found sounded good - Mexican chocolate cupcakes - although the ingredients listed were over a dozen and I knew there must be something more simple out there. The night before our event Kevin of Kevin Kossowan posted this cupcake recipe that he had made for his wife's birthday. There were five ingredients: chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs and flour, and they turned out great. I made two batches, one with some Mayan chocolate and one with a darker chocolate. The recipe and Kevin suggested letting them sit over night in the fridge, but I ended up making them the day of so that part didn't quite turn out (although the few we had left over were way better the next day as suggested). Either way they ended up being fantastically dense and chocolatey and the whip cream on top was the perfect, light topping... it may not have been as pretty as the ones from Flirt, but this was definitely a cupcake I would pay $3 for.
As for me I will keep using the safety net that is Blogger tested and suggested recipes... thanks for the fantastic posts everyone!