House Warming Party Snacks

So I’ve been in the new apartment for about a month, and after four trips to IKEA, one arduous quest to Dongjiao Market, and two expeditions to both Carrefour and B&Q, I thought it was about time to have a house-warming party.

I now own far too many bookshelves, to deal with the fact that the contractor who renovated thought that drawers were completely unnecessary and that pipes were good things to put awkwardly in the middle of every cupboard.
This is either indicative that I really need a new prescription for my glasses, or that Chinese stores are confusing, but in trying to find the entrance to B&Q the first time, I completely missed it and ended up in Carrefour. But then I found so many useful things there that it was ok and had to go back a second time. Things like a cheaper mattress pad than at IKEA, a lot of things I’m convinced were either bought or stolen from IKEA and resold, kitchen things, and cushions. I have so many cushions for my reading nook. And I guess, for my couch when I’m not in the reading nook.

I tried to use Carrefour’s Home Delivery Service, but was informed that they only do it for people within 3 K. Well, screw you. Who needs delivery service within 3K? That’s useless. I can run that in 15 minutes. If you have Carrefour deliver things to your home within 3 K that are not major household appliances like a mattress or large refrigerator, you are a horrible person. So I grumbled, very carefully and skillfully managed to pick up all my cushions and kitchen junk, and moved on. And then, in a curiously helpful move, the security guard at B&Q offered to watch all my stuff while I shopped. Shocking.

Unfortunately, the staff were less than knowledgeable, although all eager to help. It took three people to give me an opinion on what screws and anchors and drill bit I would need to drill through kitchen tile. Unhappily after all that I discovered that I needed a hammer drill to get through the concrete behind the tile. What trying times I live in, no access to real power tools.

Anyway, construction troubles aside, the apartment finally took on a semblance of civilized living, and I invited a bunch of people over for canapes and wine. Because I’m really classy. But mostly because there’s no space for Disney power hour, and I don’t have an ayi yet, so I’m trying to avoid messes that I have to clean up myself.

I made an assortment of small and easily eaten bites of food. First, deviled quail eggs with homemade mayo. They are more cute and snackable than regular eggs, even if peeling boiled quail eggs is a bitch.

Tiny adorable eggs. I have a penchant for tiny adorable things.


Caprese skewers with chunks of mozzarella, cherry tomatos and basil leaves drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Incredibly simple but very elegant. It’s best if you can find the mozzarella balls that are the same size as cherry tomatoes, but here in Beijing, I just cut up a large chunk into bite size pieces.

A classic combination of delicious.


Shrimp and mango spring rolls: soak the skins in luke warm water, as soon as they begin to soften, after about 10 seconds, lay them on a flat surface. They are sticky and delicate, so be careful. Brush on sweet chili sauce, place soaked and drained mung bean thread, matchstick slices of carrot and cucumber, shrimp quickly tossed in oil with a ton of garlic and red chilies, and chunks of mango, in the middle, then wrap them as neatly and tightly as you can without bursting the skins. I made far too many, and put half in the fridge for lunch the next day. When I discovered this, I merely broke them open and tossed all the contents with sweet chili sauce, discarding the skins. This made an excellent chilled mango shrimp salad.

Last time I make anything with rice paper skins. Until I forget how annoying they are.


Pineapple Steak Skewers: Let the steak tip marinate in a mix of honey, soy sauce, oyster sauce, cooking wine, then loaded onto skewers with peppers, onions, and pineapple chunks. Broiled in the oven for about 7-10 minutes.

Steak+Pineapple=FLAVORS


I served bacon jam with a selection of goat cheese, brie, and caramelized onions on bread, which was found to be just as addictive as I thought it was.

Bacon Jam, Brie, Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onion. I defy you to come up with something more delicious.


The last savory snack was a vegetable fritter, a recipe I got from my Asian grandma. It’s not vegetarian, but could probably be adapted to be.
Half a cabbage, shredded
One onion, chopped
One carrot, shredded.
One pound ground pork
One pound shrimp, finely minced
Garlic, finely minced
1 cup corn starch
1 cup sweet potato flour (or rice flour, which I used)
2-3 eggs

Mix all this together, then form small, 1-inch balls. Deep fry these in oil until golden, rain on paper towels, and serve with your choice of cocktail sauce, ketchup, sweet chili sauce, etc. They’re humble looking but really good.

Vegetable Fritters served with sweet chili sauce.


For dessert, I made panna cotta, which I have tried once before and failed miserably and have avoided ever since even though I’ve really wanted to make this light, airy pudding very much. This time was a roaring success. I used a recipe I found on Tastespotting, for ginger panna cotta and black sesame gelee. It’s not overly sweet or rich, but creamy and cloud-like. I’m kicking myself for not taking any pictures, because they were absolutely beautiful and elegant, served in tiny glasses. (Ok, they were served in shot glasses, but I bought the shot glasses specifically to put panna cotta in, so technically, they’re panna cotta glasses, which sounds less trashy)

3 cups of cream
1 cup of whole milk
6 Tbs ginger, shredded
1/2 cup of honey
4 1/2 tsp. gelatin
pinch of sea salt

1/2 cup black sesames, toasted,
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tsp. gelatin
1 cup water.

First, add milk to a sauce pan, sprinkle the gelatin over it, let stand and soften for five minutes. Then bring turn on the heat to low, and stir, dissolving the gelatin. After about 5 minutes, add the honey, cream, salt and ginger. Stir another 5-7 minutes. It should be lukewarm-ish. Strain through a sieve, and divide evenly between ramekins or shot glasses or jam jars or whatever you choose to serve it in. Chill for at least six hours, or overnight.

Grind up the sesame seeds in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle until finely ground.Pour water in a heavy saucepan, add the gelatin and let sit five minutes. Then turnt he heat to low and stir, dissolving the gelatin. Add the sugar and sesame seeds, stir for about 3-5 minutes (don’t let it boil). Then let it cool for 20 minutes. Pour evenly over the panna cotta, and allow to set for at least an hour in the fridge. This is where I found the recipe, and she took pictures, which are beautiful. http://hungryrabbitnyc.com/2012/05/ginger-panna-cotta-w-black-sesame-gelee/

Anyway, most of the food was eaten, much wine was consumed and merriment shared by all. Housewarming party qualifies as a success!

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