Ever go to a party where the food is amazing? Well at the annual neighbourhood Christmas party for our street you need to bring a dish and your A-game. No half thawed shrimp ring, that is for sure. Especially if you write about food.
Let me give you some background. The hosts of this party go all out for Christmas. When I say all out, I mean all out. The Christmas tree this year is glittered with over 5200 lights and countless ornaments hung with such precision and care it is something out of a magazine. No worries about the light situation as the tree has it’s own plug/breaker so no risk of burning down the house.
There are a variety of Christmas decorations scattered throughout and a mantle full of Santa figures which can not help but make anyone still believe. A childlike wonderment overcomes you the moment you step in the room. I have experienced this magical night 4 times and am still gobsmacked the moment I arrive.
Not only is the atmosphere and the people amazing, but the food that is made and brought is second to none. There are sweet decadent desserts and savoury appetizers that one can not help by go back and forth between the two all night. The culinary skills of the guests could rival the best restaurants in the city.
So when thinking of an appetizer that could be enjoyed by all and bring the house down one needs to put a bit of thought into it. It is so exciting to receive the feedback from the foodie connoisseurs in the room. They will honestly tell you what is missing and what if fabulous. You obviously are hoping for the latter.
This year I decided to bring some of cranberry sugar plums and champagne white truffle surprises. Along with a savoury dish of untested experimentation because that is how I roll.
Rumaki is basically chicken liver and water chestnuts wrapped in bacon and marinated. Which sounds fantastic on it’s own. I wanted to do a take on this, but make it more presentable and easy to eat. Being a fan of pate during the the holidays it seemed fitting to make it as the centre. I then formed the pate into a ball around slices of water chestnuts wrapped it in candied bacon. The flavouring from the pate would justify the lack of marinating and make for a much richer dish overall. So an explosion of taste is secretly disguised as a meatball only to reveal itself once eaten.
It passed the test as about 30 of these lovelies disappeared from the serving plates in a matter of minutes. If they can be devoured and selected among the other food finery you know you have a star. There is no better gauge as to how well a dish is received that the annual party.
The next day my daughter had her first viewing of the holiday awesomeness the house projects and was quietly observing as she tried to take it all in.
The excitement of my neighbour was evident during our visit as he had a new audience to entertain as the tour went on. It was great to see the interaction and the excitement that grew as each new item was shown.
The visit and the party confirms that the holidays are really about the belief that there really is something bigger and greater than ourselves. The overwhelming need to share, come together and love takes over. It is evident every year.
Hoping you find your peace this holiday.
Rumaki Pate Balls
The perfect holiday appetizer for an amazing savoury taste experience.
- 3/4 cup butter
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 tsp marjoram
- 1 tsp gingerbread spice mix
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 lb chicken livers, cleaned & trimmed
- 1 oz bourbon
- 1 lb of thick sliced bacon
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 small can of sliced water chestnuts
- Prep a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
- Cut the slices of water chestnuts in quarters and set aside.
- In a pan melt the butter over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Cook until softened. Add in the rosemary, marjoram, gingerbread spice mix, salt, pepper and chicken livers. Cook the livers until they are cooked on the outside, but still pink in the middle.
- Add the bourbon. Remove from heat and puree in a food processor or chopper until relatively smooth. Use a small scoop and place 2 of the cut quarters of the water chestnuts in the middle of the ball. Place the ball on the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Once all the balls are formed, place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to help set the balls.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place bacon strips on a wire rack over top of a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for approximately 7 minutes.
- In a bowl combine the maple syrup and black pepper. Once the 7 minutes are up, use a silicon brush and brush a layer on the bacon strips. Place the bacon back in the oven and cook for 5 more minutes. Brush with the syrup and repeat steps for the next 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let slightly cool.
- Cut the bacon strips in half and wrap the section of bacon around each pate ball securing with a long toothpick or appetizer skewer. Once all are complete, set back in the refrigerator until just about to serve. Slightly heat up the prepared balls in the oven by covering them with tin foil to prevent them from drying out. Then serve.
These are best prepared at least a day in advance to let the spices in the pate take on full volume flavour.