Yesterday was my husband's first day of school at National University of Singapore (NUS). He will be an undergrad (or is it overgrad :P) doing Architecture. Busyness would take on a whole new meaning now with full-time study, full-time work and full-time fathering! So to encourage THE husband and Daddy that most love, we decided to organise a mini congratulatory party for him.
It was a simple one with very little preparation involved. I was just thinking of something different from our regular vege-fish/meat-soup-rice ensemble. Hence I decided on a pinic-like dinner menu that looks like this:
- Baby romaine salad with cherry tomatoes
- Hummus with carrot sticks
- Ham and Cheddar toasties (mainly for Princess and The Rock)
- Ham, mushroom and Cheddar empanadas
- Mini Nutella empanadas
- Jelly with Nata de Coco
The empanadas were impromptu. I initially wanted to make the Domestic Goddess Wannabe's Ham and Cheese Wheels and mushroom vol au vent because I thought I had a package of frozen puff pastry lying in my freezer. However when I took it out, it turned out to be frozen short crust pastry. Therefore I combined the two pastries into one and made the empanadas instead and it turned out pretty well, if I may say.
Here are the recipes for the menu, some are so simple it's embarrassing to state them but I'll just include them for completeness sake.
Baby Romaine Salad
- baby romaine leaves, washed
- cherry tomatoes, halfed
- extra virgin olive oil
- lemon juice
- sea salt flakes
- freshly ground black pepper
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over baby romaine leaves and tomatoes, give a squeeze of lemon and sprinkle sea salt and pepper to taste.
As the ingredients are so few and simple, try to get the freshest and best quality you can get.
Hummus with Carrot Sticks (recipe from Bryan van der Beek)
- 1 can chick peas
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- juice of 1/4 lemon
- 1/4 cup low fat yoghurt (more if you want it creamier)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- sea salt (to taste)
- black pepper (to taste)
Combine all the above ingredients in a food processor and blend till creamy or to your preferred texture and consistency. Add more salt or pepper as needed.
Ham and Cheddar Toasties
- Ham (I used smoked ham)
- shredded cheddar cheese
- wholemeal bread
Put ham and cheese in between two slices of bread and toast the sandwich in a sandwich maker. If you do not have a sandwich maker, you can toast the open-face sandwich (without the piece of bread on top) to melt the cheese then cover the sandwich with another slice of toast.
Ham, Mushroom and Cheddar Empanadas
- 1 package frozen short crust pastry, thawed
- 100g Ham (I used smoked ham for its smoky flavour), cut into thumbnail-sized pieces
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 250g mushroom (I used a mixture of portabello, swiss brown and white button), roughly chopped.
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped thyme leaves or herb of choice
- olive oil
- black pepper
- egg yolk
- Heat a bit of olive oil in a pan, sauté the garlic until you smell the fragrance, then add the chopped mushroom.
- Sauté the mushrooms with the garlic for a few minutes. The mushrooms will release some moisture, continue cooking until all the liquid has evaporated. This will concentrate the flavours of the garlic mushrooms.
- Once the mushrooms have cooled sufficiently, combine the ham, cheese, cooked mushrooms and thyme. Mix to get the filling . Add black pepper if desired.
- Preheat oven to 230˚C. Grease the baking tray.
- Roll out the shortcrust pastry dough to 2 mm thickness. Cut out rounds with cookie cutter. Mine were 7cm in diameter. Bigger circles would yield bigger pastries.
- Place some filling onto the middle of the round pastry dough, put some egg yolk around the edges and place another round pastry dough on top and crimp around the edges. You may need to make the top pastry dough slightly bigger so that edge can be sealed more easily.
- Arrange the unbaked pastries on the baking tray and brush egg yolk all over.
- Bake them for 10-12 minutes or until the pastries turn golden brown.
- Enjoy them warm!
Mini Nutella Empanadas
I simply used nutella as the filling and used up the scraps of dough from the above recipe. These took less time to bake as they are so small so watch your oven closely!
Jelly with Nata de Coco
Follow the package instructions. I added Nata de Coco because Princess and the Rock adores them.
I also printed some masks to add to the party atmosphere. It was a simple but fun celebration nevertheless.
Jia you, Daddy! (You go, Daddy!)