Fundraiser features tips for cooking and presentation

Easy entertaining

Forty supporters of the Arts Council of Pointe Coupee talked food, entertaining and easy presentation ideas with me at the New Roads home of Daryl and Janie Patin.

They gathered there Jan. 18 for a fundraiser for the community arts organization which supports programs in youth outreach, artists outreach and a Performing Arts Series.

Gale Roy, executive director of the Arts Council; Janie Patin; Carmen Kellerman; Lu McCaskill; Bettie Capps; and Blanche Jewell prepared and served all the food the guests sampled.

Guests raved about the various crostini served as appetizers. Fashionable herbs and cheeses were used as toppings for the crostini, which were served on vintage bread boards. A dark, sweet cherry mixture topped an arugula leaf and blue cheese for one of the crostini and another featured marinated tomatoes with feta and pine nuts. Small chèvre and Gruyère cheese balls sat on a lettuce leaf for a third one.

The Shrimp and Artichokes With Mushroom Sauce entrée was accompanied by a Parmesan-flavored puff pastry fish. I had planned to show how easy it is to make puff pastry cheese sticks but then decided it would be splashier to cut out a fish. The guests loved the little puffy fish.

The fish served as the bread course but would also make a great appetizer for any gathering.

The lunch ended with the super easy Lady’s Creamy Grape Dessert and a mini Coconut Honey Muffin. Because the grape dessert was rich, the accompanying muffin was tasty but not overly sweet. The committee had chosen those two desserts because they could be made ahead of time — something party hosts should always plan for.

Among the ideas discussed was how to get creative with ingredients you have on hand. For example, if a recipe calls for chorizo, the highly seasoned, Spanish pork sausage, and you have a seasoned deer sausage or andouille, use that. If you don’t have cilantro or don’t like it, you can always use Italian flat-leaf parsley.

Instead of boiling vegetables for toppings, think about baking them. Any of the squashes, sweet potato or beets would work.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will help support operating expenses for the organization’s at-large and specific programs not covered through grants.

The Arts Council of Pointe Coupee’s Performing Arts Series will hold three live performances in 2014. The first is “Lovesick Blues/An Evening with Hank Williams Sr.” at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 1 at the Poydras Center in New Roads. Call (225) 718-8439 for ticket information.

Corinne Cook is a columnist for The Advocate. Reach her at food@theadvocate.com.