Autumn is a wonderful time to host a party. Cool evenings have arrived, turning leaves crimson and gold, and bringing sweaters and leather boots from the closet. The guys are talking football, and politics—if they dare.
The frantic days of holiday shopping and baking are still a few weeks away, making a fall party a more relaxed affair.
And the chill in the air stimulates everyone’s appetite.
The Food Channel recently hosted a Harvest Party, open house style, with more than 70 guests in attendance at River Cliff, our beautiful country retreat. A wonderful time was had by all—even those who had to prepare the food, because we took a few shortcuts that allowed everyone to breathe a little easier.
Onion dip is certainly a party classic, but when a homemade version takes it to a whole new level. Our Caramelized French Onion Dip was a major hit at the party. We made it the day before so the flavor of the caramelized onions and the hot sauce had time to meld. The key to the recipe is to cook the onions long enough to obtain a rich brown color. We served it in a hollowed out heirloom pumpkin surrounded by rustic homemade potato chips.
Our Spicy Pickled Shrimp has been a perennial party favorite around The Food Channel. Everyone loves it. For this event, we layered in some artichoke hearts for added flavor. This is another recipe that you can prep ahead of time, so you’ll have more of a chance to enjoy the party yourself.
Slider-sized sandwiches satisfy the cravings of party carnivores. We purchased take-out pulled pork and added a few special touches to build our Carolina Pulled Pork Cocktail Sandwiches, topping them with crunchy coleslaw and honey-mustard barbecue sauce. We bought the beef brisket at the same BBQ takeout place, adding horseradish sauce and slices of ripe red Roma tomatoes to create our Mini Beef Brisket Cocktail Sandwiches. The party-goers simply devoured them.
Another hand-held favorite of the meat eaters were the Golden Dijon Spicy Chicken Satay. The tangy-sweet honey mustard barbecue sauce from the pork cocktail sandwich did double duty here and combined nicely with the Asian sweet chili sauce. The skewers make a great presentation and taste terrific.
You always want to offer a something on the sweeter side, and for this fall-themed gathering we prepared Mini Pumpkin Tarts made with refrigerated pie dough, canned pumpkin and maple syrup. They turned out really cute and so scrumptious. Our Sweet and Savory Apples was one of the biggest hits of the evening. It’s an incredible blend of baked and fried apples—a departure from the usual and a real treat. Our Mini Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting capped off our party menu. They’re light and airy, and small enough to feel guiltless about. Unless you eat five.