Today at Blushing Hostess Entertains I advised on menus for party planning. Confident and sure footed when it comes to entertaining, not much throws me except the occasional agony resulting from my creative and admittedly questionable genius. It is at these times the Hostess feels very glad she did not give in to the current housing floor plan vogue of an an open kitchen and the Blushing Hostess becomes The Cussing Hostess.
No, indeed! The Hostess believes in the swinging kitchen door and the privacy of a room where cooking trial failures and related events do not become conversational fodder for the guests nor a source of their terror. Not that I would advise you to try anything new in the wee hours before the guests arrive, but it is my role in this funny blog world to do such a thing and report with accurate abandon the results in order to prevent your event from meeting the same fate. Further and to be crystal clear as I relate these foolhardy and uproarious happenings to you: I began the study of the hors d'ourvre in question a full three days before the Sunday supper where they were to have been served. So I was not at all tardy, hasty, or without adequate time to complete the steps involved to complete my hare brained finger food scheme. Let's understand: There was plenty of time to create several fires if need be, not just the one that toppled this porky house of hope.
Disclosures: I did not have a recipe. I was loosely, licentiously, and recklessly following Alinea's concept as recounted by Carol over at Alinea at Home. I looked up several recipes for old fashioned butterscotch, checked the Hostess witch-watch, noted all the other steps I would need to complete, and decided I would indeed have to find a substitute for the butterscotch component.
On Day 1, I dehydrated the pepper bacon. It took hours in a low slow oven.
On Day 2, I made the apple strapping: Baked the apples until soft, cored and peeled them, spread the apple gunk on parchment, dehydrated for hours until it became something similar to an apple roll up.
Then fateful dinner party Day 3 arrived. I cut the apple strapping in long strips to match the bacon size and placed three little butterscotch chips on each bacon length then put them in the oven to melt the butterscotch intending to roll them end to end and pin them with a toothpick creating a dreamy combination of porky, tarty, and sweet -y deliciousness.
Or. A bacon, granny smith, candy chip inferno under the broiler accompanied by many words which do not appear in Amy Vanderbilt's glossary, followed by a hasty scramble to the pantry to snatch up the iodized salt, and a heroic leap back to the oven to douse the flames out. You see, putting out kitchen fires was a routine part of my childhood cooking lessons with Mother (did not care for oven cleaning) and Grandmother (did not always keep track of grease temperatures owing to her assumption that most things had to do with providence and those that did not were watched over fastidiously by the ever-vigilant "Virgin Mother"). Consequently, kitchen fires have always been routine and fire department chiefs always on a Christmas card association level with our family (Hi. Dave! How's the family?).
I am here to tell you that if you are going to light any portion of your house ablaze regularly just before company comes it is a good idea to have sets of double French doors and top of the line fans and vents. One might also consider installing sprinklers. Also. get a Plan B for the food. The latter is not my strong suit. In fact, I am the sort of person so committed to a path that I should introduce myself as follows: I'm Catherine and you should be aware there is no Plan B, period. However, fire after fire has taught me a fall back plan is not always the result of a lack of determination and confidence. Sometimes, it is the necessary result of the inferno behind the swinging door.
When I have ignited or incinerated the finger foods and duly extinguished the remains of the pig, Julia and Dorie are always there with their reassuring directions for puffy gourgeres which I must tell you are a world better than Jacques Pepin's. I can count on them even with only minutes to spare after the fire extinguisher falls to the ground next to my Tod's and I make a mental note that it needs refilled again.
Since I am a Dorie Greenspan devotee I have not adapted the recipe here and encourage you to get a copy of Baking with Julia in order that you may also be saved and keep the food on Dorie's table so I can keep reading...