Friday, July 6, 2012

Cocktail Surprise

I love cocktail food.  I really don’t think there is a better meal than a bite of this and a bite of that.  One of our favorite date nights is to go to the drive-in and have a one bite cocktail snack  picnic in the parking lot.  We bring meat, cheese, stuffed grape leaves, hummus, veggies, crackers, fruit, assorted dips and wine.  And in the shadow of the largest land fill in Atlanta we classy up that broken down parking lot. 
Now Christmas time is just the best for this type of ‘dining’.  With all the holiday parties I can actually make cocktail food a steady diet for almost a month.  I love it, I totally look forward to it.  Prior to each party I imagine what will be served.  I am secretly gunning for some monument to cheese, a mayonnaisy goop pretending to have sophistication, a seafood assortment (sushi, shrimp cocktail, stone crab claws, I’m not picky) and a surprise.  I do like to be surprised, the same old artichoke dip gets real old after week 1 of the holiday party circuit.  Creativity is important and certainly appreciated, because I am certainly going to rate the cocktail snacks after the party.
I’m alway planning cocktail themed party menus.  They don’t ever happen but dreaming up platters of one bite snacks and dips gives me no end of pleasure.  For instance, let’s just delve in to the archives of daydreaming here.  Chicken mole skewers, tuna croquetas, tortilla espanola (cut in to bit sized pieces) and a crudite with chimmichurri and creamy jalapeno sauces.  Or mini cornbread muffins, ham biscuits with Vidalia onion jam, pickled shrimp, peach/goat cheese/basil crostini and cole slaw spring rolls.  Dear God.  Cole slaw spring rolls?  
For reasons I won’t go in to 1.3 lbs. of ground turkey showed up in our fridge.  I’ve never cooked with ground turkey nor did I desire to, I just didn’t want to waste food.  In fact I’m firmly of the belief that we could all eat something tastier than turkey on Thanksgiving.  Don’t act so shocked.  People act like they are so excited about this bird and a day later bemoan it’s existence. Seems a little fickle.  Not only that, you spend at least 2 days worrying and working with this bird only to get what?  A slightly less than mediocre slice of meat that is more than likely dry?  Even on its best day wouldn’t you rather have a pork chop? I would.  Ground turkey really is tofu for people who are squeamish about tofu.  It’s always pinch hitting for ground pork and ground beef: turkey burgers, turkey meatloaf, turkey bolognese.  Who wants to eat that?  Why bother, just make it vegetarian. 
So back to the box of blandness boring the crap out of the other foods in my fridge.  I’m not sure where this came from, perhaps a Bridget Jones flashback, but I decided to make turkey curry meatballs.  I’ll say this, these are pretty darned good but I won’t be apologizing to this bird anytime soon like I did the chicken. 
Jim was out of town when I made them so I had a cocktail party of one; I ate them standing up in the kitchen with a glass of wine, or maybe two.  Now I’m going to have plan a party menu around my new cocktail snack. 
Curry Turkey Meatballs with Sriracha Mayo - Makes about 2 dozen meatballs
1 1/3 lbs. of ground turkey
2 1/2 teaspoons of curry powder (I use Penzey’s Singapore Seasoning)
1 large egg
3 tablespoons of panko
1” hunk of ginger, minced
1 green onion, sliced lengthwise and chopped
1 shallot, minced
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1/2 red jalapeno, minced
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
Vegetable oil

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan over a medium-low heat, add the shallot and ginger and saute for 2 minutes.  Add in the onion and the pepper and continue to cook for about 5 more minutes.  The purpose is to get everything soft but not crispy.  Remove from the heat.  Meanwhile mix together the egg, turkey, curry powder, panko and lime juice.  When the onions, pepper and ginger have cooled add them to the mixture and make 1" meat balls.  Wipe out the pan and add another 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over a medium-high heat.  Working in batches (about 3 so you don't over crowd the pan) cook the meat balls until they are cooked through, about 7 minutes.
Sriracha Mayo (from Midge at

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sriracha sauce

Combine all the ingredients and serve with the meatballs.
Notes:  The mayonnaise recipe is from Midge at  She pairs it with her winning recipe for okonomiyaki, which are absolutely fabulous and a regular visitor to our dining table.  You can click here for her recipe.

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