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Monday, April 14, 2014

THE MASTERS' PARTY!

A friend of my son's got me thinking - why didn't I host a party to watch the end of THE MASTERS?  We live in Atlanta, GA; we love golf, and as it turned out - a Georgia guy won this year (well Bubba's FROM Florida but went to UGA)!  Anyway...there's always next year!  So I'm planning ahead - unless we snag the coveted tickets to the final rounds in Augusta, I'm going to invite some friends over and celebrate Masters' style!
Photo Credit: The Sherman Report

MENU

BOBBY FLAY'S PIMENTO CHEESE with crackers
GARLICKY ROASTED RED PEPPER DIP
EGG SALAD FINGER SANDWICHES
OPEN FACE CHICKEN CLUB SANDWICHES
HOPPIN' JOHN SALAD
HOMEMADE MOON PIES
PEACH COBBLER
BEER AND ARNOLD PALMERS (AND TIPSY ARNOLD PALMERS!)

There are certain "givens" when it comes to hosting a Master's bash:
1. Green clothing – You’ve absolutely GOT to wear something green.
2. Green décor – Go out and buy some green plates, napkins and cups. It's required.
3. The Masters music – Play the ubiquitous music of the Masters loud and everywhere. 
4. Pimento cheese sandwiches – THE classic sandwich served on Augusta grounds. I'm doing a dip instead, but - - - the pimento cheese WILL be there!

The infamous "Amen Corner" at the Masters:

Some of the food you'll find when attending the Masters (and check out those prices!  They haven't changed them since the 1980s):
Photo Credit: Golf Digest

BOBBY FLAY'S PIMENTO CHEESE
(From The Food Network)
Photo Credit: The Food Network
This recipe amps it up a notch, and even if you're not a big pimento cheese fan, this version will change your mind forever.
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature, I always use the lower fat neufchâtel
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
1 cup grated Monterey Jack
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp House Seasoning, recipe follows
2 to 3 TBSP pimentos, smashed
1 tsp grated onion
Cracked black pepper
Splash of worchestershire, if desired
House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
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Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth and fluffy.
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Add all of the remaining ingredients and beat until well blended.
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It can be used as a dip for crudite or as a sandwich filling.

House Seasoning:
Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

GARLICKY ROASTED RED PEPPER DIP
(Adapted from MyRecipes)
Photo Credit: My Recipes
  • 1 whole head of garlic
    1 teaspoon olive oil
    Salt and pepper
    1 red bell pepper (or use roasted red peppers from a jar)
    1/2 teaspoon cumin
    1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
    1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
    Pinch of cayenne pepper
    Assorted crudités and crackers, for serving

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut off top of garlic head, place on a piece of foil, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap tightly with the foil and roast until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool.
    Over an open flame or under a preheated broiler, cook bell pepper, turning frequently with tongs, until blackened all over. Place in a paper bag, close tightly and allow pepper to sweat for 10 minutes. Slip off pepper skin with your fingers.
    Roughly chop pepper, discarding seeds and membranes. ***OR you can use roasted red peppers from a jar if you prefer.
  • Squeeze garlic cloves out of skins. Place pepper and garlic in food processor; add cumin, coriander and sour cream; puree until smooth. Season with salt and cayenne pepper. Cover and chill. Serve with assorted crudités and crackers.

    MY EGG SALAD FINGER SANDWICHES
Photo Credit: Appetite4Appetizers
Here's my version of the classic.  Super easy.

6 hard boiled eggs
1-2 TBSP Hellman's mayo
1-2 tsp Jane's Crazy Mixed Up Salt
Thinly sliced white bread (such as Pepperidge Farm)
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I throw the eggs into my food processor and pulse a few times (you don't want it to be a paste!) until you get the consistency you like.  Then put the chopped eggs in a bowl and add the mayo (again, to your taste) and Jane's.
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Cut the crusts off of the bread and spread a thin layer of egg salad on one side of the bread.  Then cut the sandwiches in half diagonally and voila!

***AND if you can find these little gems you're in luck!  They're the best eggs out there taste wise, and these save you the step of cooking the eggs and then cooling prior to making egg salad. Genius.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

IF you can't find these eggs, here's a foolproof way to get hard-boiled eggs that have yellow yolks (not green) and are easy to peel:
First, place the eggs in a single layer in a pot with enough cold water to cover them by about 1 inch. Then, place the pot on the stove over high heat.

As soon as the water comes to a boil turn the heat off, cover the pan, and remove it from the heat. Allow the eggs to sit in the water, covered, until they are cooked; about 9 minutes for a medium egg, 12 minutes for a large egg, and 16 minutes for an extra-large egg. This will ensure that your eggs are perfectly cooked and the yolks retain their bright yellow color.

When the eggs are cooked, remove them from the pan and place them in a large bowl of cold water. Keep adding ice to keep the water cool.  When the eggs reach room temperature, it’s time to peel them — any colder and they’ll be tough to peel.

Roll the egg on counter so that the shell is broken all over. Then, submerge the egg in the bowl of now room-temperature water. The trick is to peel the egg underwater, as the water helps loosen the membrane that makes the shell stick to the white. You should end up with a perfect peeled hard-boiled egg!

OPEN FACE CHICKEN CLUB SANDWICHES
(Adapted from My Recipes)
Photo Credit: My Recipes
1 TBSP olive oil
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (or use a rotisserie chicken)
1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
3 TBSP canola mayonnaise
1 ripe peeled avocado, coarsely mashed
4 (1-ounce) slices sourdough bread, toasted
4 pieces green leaf lettuce
2 plum tomatoes, each cut into 6 slices
4 slices center-cut bacon, cooked

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; sauté 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan; let stand 5 minutes. Slice. ***You can always use 1-2 rotisserie chickens instead.

Combine remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, juice, mayonnaise, and avocado in a small bowl; stir until well blended. Spread about 3 TBSP avocado mixture over each bread slice.

Top each sandwich with 1 lettuce leaf, 1 chicken breast half, 3 tomato slices, and 1 bacon slice. And you can top with another slice of bread if you'd prefer, and then slice the sandwiches in halves or fourths for the party.

HOPPIN' JOHN SALAD
(Adapted from My Recipes)

Photo Credit: My Recipes

Black-eyed peas = SOUTHERN:

1/2 cup uncooked long-grain rice
2 cups fresh or frozen black-eyed peas
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, chopped

Prepare rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, cook peas and 1 tsp salt in water to cover in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring often, 30 minutes or until tender; drain.
Whisk together lemon juice, next 4 ingredients, and remaining 1 tsp. salt in a large bowl. Stir in peas, rice, celery, parsley, and mint until blended. Cover and chill 2 hours. Season with salt to taste.

SOUTHERN MOON PIES
(Adapted from All Recipes)
Photo Credit: All Recipes
Moon Pies are yet another de rigueur food item at the Masters.  They scream "SOUTHERN" and are good, but....this homemade version is better!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup marshmallow creme

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
To Make Cookie Crusts: In a large mixing bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter or margarine and white sugar. Add egg, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Mix well. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Add flour mixture slowly to sugar mixture while stirring. Mix just until all ingredients are combined.
Drop the dough onto greased cookie sheet by rounded tablespoonfuls. Leave at least 3 inches in between each one; dough will spread as it bakes.
Bake in preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes, until firm when pressed with finger. Allow to cool at least one hour before filling.
To Make Marshmallow Filling: In a medium mixing bowl, blend together 1/2 cup butter or margarine, confectioners' sugar, flavored extract, and marshmallow creme. Mix until smooth. Assemble pies by spreading 1 to 2 tablespoonfuls of filling on flat side of a cookie crust, then covering filling with flat side of another cookie crust.

INDIVIDUAL PEACH COBBLERS
(Adapted from Food Network)
Photo Credit: Food Network
Peach cobbler is such a traditional southern dessert, and it is served perfectly at a party by making it in individual little ramekins.  Fresh peaches are better of course, but those are hard to come by in April, so feel free to use frozen or canned.

Nonstick cooking spray
2 1/2 pounds ripe peaches, pitted and cut into large chunks (or use frozen ones or a couple of cans of sliced peaches in their own juice, drained)
1 TBSP cornstarch
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 TBSP ground flax seed
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3 TBSP cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 TBSP reduced-fat buttermilk
Whipped cream or ice cream for topping, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat eight 6-ounce ramekins with nonstick cooking spray and place on a rimmed baking sheet.

Toss the peaches with the cornstarch and 2 TBSP sugar in a large bowl. Let stand until juicy, about 10 minutes. Divide the peaches and juices among the ramekins.

While the peaches sit, combine the flour, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, flax seed and salt. Cut in the butter, using a fork or pastry cutter, until the mixture forms medium-size crumbs. Stir in the buttermilk until well moistened and large clumps hold together.

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the peaches. Bake until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown and crisp, 40 to 45 minutes. Watch carefully and check after 30 minutes or so as oven temperature vary.  Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

TIPSY ARNOLD PALMERS FOR A CROWD
(Adapted from My Recipes)


Photo Credit: My Recipes
4 cups boiling water
5 regular-size tea bags
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 cups cold water
1 cup bourbon or vodka
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
Garnish: lemon slices

Pour boiling water over tea bags, sugar, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Stir until sugar is dissolved; cover and steep 5 minutes.

Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large pitcher, discarding tea bags and zest. Stir in 4 cups cold water, bourbon or vodka and lemon juice. Cover and chill 30 minutes to 12 hours. Serve over ice.

To make this tea a day ahead, follow recipe as directed, omitting ice and garnish. Store in the refrigerator in a pitcher. When you are ready to serve, stir in ice cubes and lemon slices.
***NOTE: You also can cheat if you're pressed for time here and use store bought iced tea and lemonade.  Just mix with bourbon or vodka, and you're all set.