Cooking For Others: Ars Nova

EVENT: Now Circa Then
VENUE: Ars Nova Theater, Midtown West
PARTY SIZE: 75
TYPE: Patron Night Party
MENU: Lime-Marinated Chicken Skewers with Carrot-Miso Dipping Sauce; Roasted Butternut Squash Crostini with Thyme Creme Fraiche; Smoked Mozzarella Tartlettes with Apple Cider Onion Jam; Crispy Polenta Bites with Golden Tomatoes and Three Herb Pesto; Green Market Crudités with Lemon Paprika Aioli; Brownie Bite Petits Fours

Ars Nova is an awesome place. It’s a theater just off 10th Avenue in Midtown, and it’s dedicated to fostering the work of up-and-coming theater, music, and comedy artists. Its main floor is a theater, its middle floors are offices, and its top floor has a room artists can stay in if they’ve become artists-in-residence, plus a big open living room space for parties and other events. That’s where we came in.

When Now Circa Then, Ars Nova’s most recent play, began previews, they called on us to cater their parton night party. Needless to say, we said yes.
It’s been a while since we posted about a catering gig, but we wanted to tell you about this one for a couple of reasons. One, it was truly a great party, and great parties deserve documentation. And two, unlike some catering menus, the one we served that night was more or less down-to-earth. We think you could recreate it (the food, and therefore the fun) at home without too much fuss. If you’re throwing any kind of autumn cocktail party, look no further than here for a menu.
As we were developing this menu, we were thinking along seasonal lines, and we were also trying to be practical. See, the beautiful, BEAUTIFUL event space at Ars Nova has an open kitchen. Which is fun for apartments, but as we learned the hard way (when a guest at Jordana’s tried to eat raw fish out of a prep bowl), open kitchens can make catering kind of awkward. So as we took our menu through its development, we tried to keep dishes that had too much last-minute work out of mind. This meant we could merely be doing odds and ends once the party started; we’d be able to avoid pulling hot baking sheets out of the oven when we were surrounded by guests.

From an eater’s perspective, it was fun to watch our finger food go. First went the mini pizzas. That was obvious. Everyone loves pizza. Then, people discovered the polenta bites. It’s not much of an overstatement to say they went wild. The chicken and the crostini were sort of slow-and-steady types, not overshadowed by the intimidating polenta-pizza pair, and yet not quite able to surpass those either. As for the crudite, it was on the other side of the room, but we assume it was enthusiastically devoured. We know we would have made sure of that had we been guests at the party. Of course when the brownies were put out, all the savory food became something of a fuzzy dream, but brownies tend to do that. We think it says more about chocolate-y, fudge-y things than it does about pizzettes or crostini.
Thanks to Ars Nova for thinking of us to cater. And thanks to Ars Nova for putting on such a hilarious, thought-provoking show and inviting us to see it. Last but not least, thanks to Ars Nova’s guests for being such great eaters.
From our kitchen, producing finger food galore, to yours,
Cara and Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOKS

**Recipes**

Lime-Marinated Chicken Skewers with Carrot-Miso Dipping Sauce
Makes 100 skewers

Ingredients

1 teaspoon siracha
3 limes, juiced
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tsp salt
4 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups Carrot-Miso Dipping Sauce (Recipe follows)
6-inch bamboo skewers

In a mixing bowl, combine the siracha, juice lime juice, mustard, oil and salt. Add the chicken and toss until coated in the marinade. Place a nonstick or cast-iron skillet over high heat and brown the chicken in batches. Remove to a plate and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.

String the chicken onto skewers, and arrange around a bowl or ramekin of carrot-miso dipping sauce.

Carrot-Miso Dipping Sauce
Makes about 2-3 cups

Ingredients
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup white miso
¼ cup tahini paste
2 medium carrots peeled and chopped
2-inch ginger, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons honey

Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Green Market Crudités with Lemon Paprika Aioli
Makes 1 large platter

1 bunch yellow and/or orange baby carrots, peeled, trimmed and halved
1 bunch radishes, halved
1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 zucchini, cut into matchsticks
1/2 lb broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 lb haricot vert or green beans
1 cup lemon paprika aioli (recipe follows)

Arrange each vegetable in neat piles around the perimeter of a platter. This works best if using something circular. Place the aioli in a ramekin or small bowl in the center. Set in a prime location for grazing.

Lemon Paprika Aioli
Makes about 1/2 cup

Ingredients
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small food processor, or whisk together by hand. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Posted in: Cooking for Others
  • Frankie

    I’m so drooling. Wish I’d been there. Let us know if BGSK is ever catering anything open to the hoi polloi.

  • http://otm-inthegalley.blogspot.com/ SeattleDee

    Love the menu and wish I could have nibbled my way through each offering.

  • Blogggr

    Delicious!
    Cant wait to try a few of these out:D

  • J Smile90

    seems very yummyy..!!! heheheh

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