It's wedding time here at the Sugar Network and I'm pulling out all of the stops to create and inspire the perfect reception for julieulie and her fiancé Scott. We kicked things off yesterday with a beautiful baby blue, black, and white invitation and today we are moving right along to the food - where the majority of your reception budget will be spent. At Julie and Scott's more formal wedding, cocktails will be served with passed tray appetizers and an antipasto bar in a small room overlooking all of Philadelphia. Then for dinner the entire party will move into a lavishly decorated ballroom where the sit down meal will be served. Julie is a vegetarian, but Scott is not, so the menu should be both veggie and meat eater friendly. I have a variety of six appetizer suggestions that reflect the location and the religion of the wedding. For these savory tasty bites,
For the meat eaters offer
Mini Philly Cheese Steak Crostini
(the wedding takes place in Philadelphia after all!),
Baked Potatoes with Mascarpone and Prosciutto Bits
(the couple is Jewish). For the vegetable lovers serve
Caramelized Onion Flatbreads With Creme Fraiche
Goat Cheese Bites
. The antipasto bar should host a variety of olives, crackers, croutons, roasted/pickled vegetables, salumi, nuts, and cheeses.
1 1/2 pounds flank steak
2 tablespoons grill seasoning
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided plus some for drizzling
2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
2 large red bell peppers, finely chopped
1 cup beef stock
2 crusty French baguette, sliced on an angle about 1/2-inch thick
2 cups shredded provolone cheese
- Preheat a grill pan or an outdoor grill to medium-high heat and preheat oven to 400°F. Season the steak on both sides with salt, freshly ground pepper and grill seasoning. Drizzle with olive oil and brush to coat in the oil.
- Transfer the steak to the grill and cook on each side for about 5-6 minutes for medium rare. Remove the steak from the grill, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let it rest.
- While the steak is grilling, heat a medium skillet over medium-heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 7-8 minutes, stirring every now and then.
- Add peppers and continue to cook until veggies are soft and onions are caramel in color, about 10 minutes.
- Add the beef stock, turn up the heat to high and continue to cook until there is only about 1/4 cup of liquid left in the skillet.
- Once you have the onions and peppers going, make the crostini: Drizzle the bread slices with some olive oil and place on the grill until you have light grill marks, about 1 minute on each side. Remove from the grill and reserve on a cookie sheet.
- To assemble the crostini, slice the meat against the grain on an angle with a sharp knife into very thin slices.
- Fold each slice of meat in half and place on top of the grilled bread slices. Top with the onion and pepper mixture and some shredded provolone cheese.
- When you are ready to serve, place the crostini under the broiler or in a 400°F oven to melt the cheese. Serve immediately.
*Note: the image is of a classic Philly cheese steak not of the mini crostini.
10 small Yukon gold potatoes
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon prosciutto bits
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons mascarpone or creme fraiche
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chopped chives
4 ounces prosciutto (Have the butcher grind it or chop it finely yourself. If finely chopping yourself, partially freeze it first.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Wash and dry the potatoes. Spread a 1/4-inch bed of salt in a baking dish and top with the potatoes. Prick the top of the potatoes. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked throughout.
- Meanwhile, make the prosciutto bits:
place a small saute pan over medium-high heat. Place prosciutto in heated pan. Drizzle bits with olive oil, and cook, stirring. The prosciutto will give off steam for about 5 minutes while it releases its moisture. When the hiss of steam turns to a sizzle, turn the heat down to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the prosciutto bits are crisp, about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bits to several thicknesses of paper towel to drain. The bits will crisp even more as they cool. (Use immediately or freeze the bits for up to 6 months and warm in a skillet as needed.)
- Remove the potatoes from the oven.
- Cut an x in the top of each potato, and push in the sides to split open. Divide the prosciutto bits, mascarpone or creme fraiche, and chives among the potatoes and serve immediately.
2 pounds chicken livers
1 cup rendered chicken fat
2 cups medium-diced yellow onion (2 onions)
1/3 cup Madeira wine
4 extra-large eggs, hard-cooked, peeled, and chunked
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
- Drain the livers and saute them in 2 batches in 2 tablespoons of the chicken fat over medium-high heat, turning once, for about 5 minutes, or until just barely pink inside. Don't overcook the livers or they will be dry. Transfer them to a large bowl.
- In the same pan, saute the onions in 3 tablespoons of the chicken fat over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, or until browned.
- Add the Madeira and deglaze the pan, scraping the sides, for about 15 seconds. Pour into the bowl with the livers.
- Add the eggs, parsley, thyme, salt, black pepper, cayenne, and the remaining chicken fat to the bowl. Toss quickly to combine.
- Transfer half the mixture to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse 6 to 8 times, until coarsely chopped. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
- Season, to taste, and chill. Serve on crackers or matzo.
Makes 5 cups.
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water (105°F to 115°F)
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon nigella (kalonji) seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound onions (about 2 medium), cut into 1/3-inch-thick wedges through root ends
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon Sherry wine vinegar
1/2 cup crème fraîche
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Semolina flour (pasta flour)* or cornmeal
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- For bread dough: whisk 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water and yeast in small bowl; let stand until yeast is dissolved, about 10 minutes.
- Mix flour, nigella seeds, and salt in medium bowl. Add yeast mixture and stir with wooden spoon until mixture clumps together. Add butter; mix until incorporated. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Divide dough into 6 equal pieces; roll each into ball. Place on baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep covered and refrigerate.)
- For caramelized onions: heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion wedges to skillet and cook without turning until beginning to brown, about 7 minutes. Carefully turn onions over; reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until onions are tender and brown, occasionally stirring gently, about 10 minutes.
- Add thyme and honey; cook 1 minute. Stir in vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove skillet from heat. Cool. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
- Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Whisk crème fraîche and egg in small bowl to blend. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Sprinkle 2 rimmed baking sheets lightly with semolina flour.
- Roll out each dough ball to 5-inch round. Transfer 3 rounds to each prepared baking sheet. Let rest 10 minutes.
- Pierce dough rounds all over with fork. Spread 1 generous tablespoon crème fraîche mixture over each dough round, leaving 1/4-inch plain border. Arrange onions evenly atop each; drizzle lightly with crème fraîche mixture (mixture may spill over edges of dough).
- Bake flatbreads until crusts are puffed and golden, about 12 minutes.
- Transfer to plates; sprinkle with chives.
*Available at some supermarkets, and at specialty foods stores and Italian markets.
1/4 cup corn oil
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 pound sushi-grade tuna
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon minced jalapeño
1 1/2 teaspoons wasabi powder
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon finely chopped scallion
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus half a lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tomato--peeled, seeded and cut into 1/8-inch dice
20 best-quality potato chips
- In a bowl, combine the corn oil and ginger and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours. Strain the oil.
- With a very sharp knife, cut the tuna into 1/8-inch dice.
- In a large bowl, combine the tuna with 3 tablespoons of the ginger oil, 3 tablespoons of the cilantro and the jalapeño, wasabi, sesame seeds, scallion and lemon juice. Mix gently and season with salt and pepper.
- Stand a 1 1/2-inch-tall and 2 1/4-inch-round mold or a biscuit cutter in the center of a salad plate. Fill the mold with tuna tartare, pressing gently. Lift off the mold. Repeat with the remaining tartare.
- Drizzle the remaining ginger oil around each tartare and sprinkle with the tomato, the remaining tablespoon of cilantro and a squeeze of lemon juice.
- Stand 5 potato chips in a circular pattern in each tartare and serve immediately.
1/4 Cup finely chopped salted pistachios
6 Ounces fresh goat cheese, room temperature
2 Ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 Cup freshly cracked pink peppercorns
- Toast pistachios in a small sauté pan over medium heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, combine goat cheese and cream cheese using a wooden spoon
- Form a heaping teaspoon of the cheese mixture into a small ball, and transfer to a small plate or parchment-lined baking sheet; repeat with remaining cheese mixture, making 36 balls in all.
- Place peppercorns and pistachios on two separate plates.
- Roll 18 of the balls in the peppercorns and the remaining 18 balls in the pistachios. Will keep refrigerated, in an airtight container, for up to 1 day.
Keep reading, the rest of the meal will be revealed throughout the day. What did you serve (or would you serve) at the cocktail hour during your wedding? Please share your thoughts and ideas below!