PAUL GOD WIN
Pand Anne Purcell
A SUCCESSFUL HOLIDAY PARTY, according to
sisters Lauren Purcell and Anne Purcell Grissinger,
requires more than just great food. A memorable bash
is the successful orchestration of many parts—food,
drinks, games and, of course, execution. Here’s a party
primer, excerpted from Cocktail Parties, Straight Up!,
a helpful guide authored by the Purcell sisters.
WHEN IT COMES TO FOOD, what’s more important than a wide variety
is a gracious plenty. In the olden days (whenever that was), cocktail
parties occupied a defined time slot, often only two hours long, and it was
expected that guests would go from the party on to dinner. When we host a
party, we want our friends to come and stay for the whole evening. Our
start time is usually 7 p.m., and we like to provide enough food so that guests
feel satisfied even without a sit-down meal. We use the following formula,
though obviously, you should adjust this based on whether your guest
list includes a team of football players or, conversely, the local ballet troupe.
• Heavy hors d’oeuvres—4 to 5 pieces per guest
• Heavy/medium hors d’oeuvres—4 to 5 pieces per guest
• Medium hors d’oeuvres (such as dip)—4 to 5 pieces or 1/4 cup of dip per guest
• With dips, provide tons of bread, crackers, or other dip vehicles. They’re cheap
and easy to prepare—there should be no reason to run out of them.
• Light hors d’oeuvres (such as crudites)—5 to 6 pieces per guest
• Bowl foods—As a rule of thumb, we place 1 bowl for every 7 or 8 guests
and keep them filled all night.
The Costco Connection DECEMBER 2005
Beef tenderloin and
pearl onion skewers
For the onions 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (10-ounce) bottle 11/2 teaspoons
cocktail onions finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper 1 teaspoon coarse salt
For the 1/2 teaspoon coarsely
beef tenderloin ground black pepper
1 pound beef tenderloin, 2 to 3 tablespoons
cut into 3/4-inch cubes olive oil
Prepare the onions: Drain the cocktail
onions and soak them in a large bowl filled with
cold water for about 1 hour. Change the water and
soak for another hour. (This tones down the
intense vinegar flavor just a bit.) Melt the butter in
a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions
and cook, stirring, about 4 minutes (the onions
may lightly brown—that’s fine). Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
Prepare the beef: Put the tenderloin cubes,
garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a resealable
plastic bag and gently shake until cubes are coated.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat.
When the oil is hot, add the beef and sear until the
outsides of the cubes are brown and insides are
still rare, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Prepare one onion, then one beef tenderloin
cube on each skewer or toothpick, so the hors d’oeuvres will stand up on a platter, each skewer sticking
out the top. Serve warm. Makes about 50 skewers.
Asparagus Spears with
Lemon Dipping Sauce
2 pounds medium 1 1/2 tablespoons
asparagus minced parsley
(40 to 50 spears) 1 tablespoon
For dipping sauce Dijon mustard
3/4 cup sour cream 2 teaspoons grated
1/4 cup mayonnaise lemon zest
2 tablespoons 1 garlic clove,
lemon juice finely minced
Salt and pepper
Prepare the asparagus: Snap off the
tough ends of the asparagus spears and blanch
them by dropping them into a pot of generously
salted, boiling water. Cook until you can pierce
them with a fork but they’re still crisp, 3 to 5
minutes depending on the thickness of the
spears. Immediately plunge them into a bowl
of ice water until no longer warm. Pat dry with
paper towels and chill in the refrigerator.
Prepare the dipping sauce: Mix all
the ingredients in a small bowl. Add salt and
pepper to taste.
Arrange the asparagus standing up in pretty
drinking glasses and serve the sauce alongside.