3 Things To Keep in Mind When Planning Your Party Menu
Impress your guests at your next holiday get-together with these chef-approved appetizers (with recipes) from Mon Ami Gabi Las Vegas’ Executive Chef Vincent Pouessel.
Surrounded by shoreline, seafood and savory crepes, Chef Vincent grew up in a French household where someone was always cooking. That upbringing sparked his passion for teaching others how to bring out their inner chef. Read on to learn more about what to keep in mind as you are planning your holiday spread – or you can join Chef Vincent for one of his interactive Holiday Hors d’oeuvres 101 Chef Demos in December. Click here for info and tickets for the event on December 5 | Click here for info and tickets for the event on December 14.
Lesson #1: Find an hors d’oeuvre that you can start ahead of time
The Dish: Garlic Butter Escargot Puffs
Garlic Butter Escargot Puffs are a great, French-inspired app that is easier to make than one might think, plus majority of your prep can be done ahead of time which means more time spent sipping vino with your guests. Sauté, season and chill the burgundy snails, then bring them out closer to party time to fold and bake into pre-sliced pastry puffs. This dish boasts a flaky, buttery flavor similar to the Wild Escargots de Bourgogne you can find on Mon Ami Gabi’s menu.
Garlic Butter Escargot Puffs
Serving Size: 12
- 36 pieces medium burgundy snail (full can)
- ½ tablespoon olive or canola oil
- 18 dry bay leaves, each sliced in half
- 18 sprigs fresh thyme, each split in half
- ¼ tablespoon garlic, chopped
- Pinches of sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Frozen puff pastry sheets (available at specialty stores) standard cake pan size
- 1 egg
- Garlic Butter (see recipe below)
- Rinse snails under cold water and drain.
- Warm oil in sauté pan. Lightly sauté bay leaves, thyme and garlic.
- Add snails and salt and pepper to pan. Cook for 5 minutes. This is so herbs and garlic have time to enhance the snails.
- Refrigerate snails and save for later.
- Cut the puff pastry sheet into 36 3-inch discs.
- Place in the center of each puff pastry disc 1 tablespoon garlic butter, and top with 1 piece of escargot.
- Thoroughly beat egg to create egg wash. Brush the perimeter of each puff pastry with egg wash. Close the puff around the escargot, making a little purse (dumpling).
- Place escargot puffs on sheet pan lined with parchment paper, sealed side down. Brush with egg wash, and sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on each. Allow to rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- Cook in a 375°F oven for 8 minutes.
- Serve warm on a platter with a bamboo pick or skewer.
Garlic Butter (for Garlic Butter Escargot Puffs)
- 1 pound unsalted butter
- ¾ Italian parsley bunch
- 2 ounces shallots, chopped
- 2 ounces garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 ounce Japanese breadcrumbs
- Combine all ingredients; process through food processor.
- Store in plastic container.
Lesson #2: Create an app that feels luxe for the holidays
The Dish: Mini Lobster Corn Dogs
These Mini Lobster Corn Dogs take a nostalgic favorite and make it luxe for the holidays by blending lobster and scallops with Asian chili powder before battering and frying them until golden brown. Chef Vincent says that one of the most important things is to know where your ingredients are coming from; fresh ingredients (especially seafood) make for a great dish. Talk with your local fishmonger – or just ask the friendly face behind the counter at Whole Foods – to help you find what’s best that particular day.
Mini Lobster Corn Dogs
Serving Size: 12
- 4 U10 scallops
- 3 eggs
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon Togarashi (Asian chili powder)
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- 1 teaspoon chopped tarragon
- ½ cup roughly chopped, cooked lobster meat
- Corn Batter Mixture (see recipe below)
- In a food processor, blend scallops until fully puréed and add 3 eggs.
- On low speed, gradually add the heavy cream to purée mixture, making sure mixture stays nice and smooth.
- Season with salt, pepper and Togarashi. Should be smooth and silky mixture.
- Place mixture in mixing bowl and fold in chives and tarragon, lemon zest.
- Fold in chopped lobster meat with a spatula, making sure well combined.
- Place mixture in a pastry bag and cover cutting board with saran wrap.
- Pipe a line about 8 inches long by 1½ inches wide of meat mixture on saran wrap and roll like a sausage.
- Roll the saran wrap tightly around the “sausage”—approximately 10-12 times—and tie the ends.
- Bring pot of water to 175°F for 25 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the corn batter (see recipe below).
- Chill in ice water until fully cold.
- Cut into 1-inch segments that you will dip in corn batter and fry in a fryer at 370°F for 5 minutes until golden brown.
Corn Batter (for Mini Lobster Corn Dogs)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup corn meal
- 1½ cups milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon Togarashi
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- In a mixing bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients together.
- Gradually add milk with a whisk until smooth.
- Rest batter in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Lesson #3: Get creative with the presentation
The Dish: Bacon-Wrapped Pineapple Bites
Bacon-Wrapped Pineapple Bites are a beautifully-presented appetizer that guests can enjoy without plates or silverware, solving the age-old problem of how to balance holding a plate and a drink at the same time. In this recipe, a second, peeled pineapple is used as a base for serving up these sweet and savory skewers.
Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Bites
Serving Size: 12
- 6 pieces of applewood smoked bacon, thinly sliced
- 2 fully ripe pineapples
- Date Glaze (see recipe below)
- Preheat oven to 400°
- Peel one pineapple and cut into 1½” x ½” square sticks.
- Peel the second pineapple, and cut the bottom so it sits stable. Nicely trim the leaves for presentation.
- On a cutting board, lay the bacon strips into quarters. Wrap each stick of pineapple in the bacon.
- Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper in oven for about 7 minutes, until the bacon is crispy.
- Glaze with Date Glaze while still hot.
- Place the bacon wrapped pineapple on skewers, and pick them onto the second peeled pineapple. Your bacon wrapped pineapple bits are ready to be served!
Date Glaze (for Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Bites)
- 2 ounces dates, pitted
- 2 ounces hot water
- 1 small pinch cayenne
- Soak the dates in the hot water for 10 minutes. Purée in a mixer, and sprinkle with cayenne.