Raclette Grilling Gets the Party Started

Ever been to a party where more than one guest is face planted in a smart phone? You may have even seen an array of people assembled at a party and almost everyone is looking down at their phones, scrolling with one hand and drink in the other. I just hosted a party that would have been device free except for the guests taking pictures of dinner because they were having fun making it. We all cooked dinner together on raclette grills.

Guests preparing dinner on a Velata raclette grill.
Guests preparing dinner on a Velata raclette grill.

This tradition stems from Europe, but we made it our own with Gulf shrimp, Atlantic salmon and chicken, which we seasoned with Velata spice rubs. The shrimp cooked in the little raclette pans under the grill. We also grilled veggies on the granite grill top. I used to host parties by cooking a main dish and several sides. This would take me a few hours ahead of time, at least. Then, the challenge was figuring out how to keep things warm to serve to guests at exactly the same time or worry that buffet options were getting cold.

Guests enjoyed the simplicity of the menu and the festive no bake cheesecake dessert,
Guests enjoyed the simplicity of the menu and the festive no bake cheesecake dessert,

With a raclette meal, guests pick what they want to put on the grill, start cooking and pulling the food straight from the grill. This action creates immediate mingling and chatting among guests who did not previously know each other. Seeing my guests relaxed and interacting makes me feel good as hostess. I also know they are really enjoying their food. Once everyone was munching on the meat, fish and veggies, which included asparagus, zucchini and red peppers, I got the crepe maker going. That too encouraged participation as guests took turns making the crepes.

The Velata crepe maker simply picks up the batter and evenly cooks crepes on a nonstick surface.
The Velata crepe maker simply picks up the batter and evenly cooks crepes on a nonstick surface.

We drizzled crepes with raspberry syrup and guests chose how to eat them: savory with chicken or sweet with melted chocolate from a fondue pot. The only things I prepared ahead of time were the mini cheesecakes. There are a lot of options for a raclette menu to get your guests engaged at the party.

The bright colors of the vegetables on the raclette grill add flair to a party.
The bright colors of the vegetables on the raclette grill add flair to a party.

You could serve fajitas/tacos, Korean BBQ or a Mediterranean mixed grill. I wanted the guests to taste Velata ingredients as well as enjoy the Velata cookware. The mini cheesecakes were mixed with Velata No Bake Cheesecake. I prepared the Classic flavor, but Velata also makes Key Lime and Caramel Apple No Bake Cheesecake.

The grilling was easy with the raclette grill and fresh ingredients.
The grilling was easy with the raclette grill and fresh ingredients.

The grocery list was simple: fish, meat, strawberries, blueberries, bell pepper, asparagus, spinach, and Velata cheese dip for the fondue, Velata Premium Belgian chocolate for fondue, Velata crepe mix, Velata Raspberry syrup and Velata spice rubs. What I liked best about this party was being able to focus all my energy on enjoying the guests’ company instead of being stuck in the kitchen alone, worrying about pots and pans. At one point, a colander came out of the cabinet, but it was a fashion accessory.

The guests were really hands on in the kitchen and happy to help the hostess.
The guests were really hands on in the kitchen and happy to help the hostess.

Admittedly, there have been times when I felt exhausted by hosting a party because of the work that went into preparations. Or, I worried if guests got to know each other. The raclette grill party alleviated both of those issues. We cooked and chatted together the whole time. My voice was hoarse from talking to all the guests. It was really so nice to just enjoy our guests and know they were enjoying each other, the grilling and the food.

If you want to know more about hosting a Velata tasting party, contact me at thesageleopard@gmail.com.

Bon Appetit.

The Sage Leopard

Savory crepes paired with grilled chicken

I live in Texas, land of the breakfast taco, so crepes aren’t always front of mind when it comes to cooking at home. But, why not? They both have strong traditions as street food and I found an easy way to make crepes. Voila, a crepe maker. This is a very reasonably priced speciality tool and could serve other purposes. Think warming tortillas or making grilled cheese sandwiches.

The Velata crepe maker simply picks up the batter and evenly cooks crepes on a nonstick surface.
The Velata crepe maker simply picks up the batter and evenly cooks crepes on a nonstick surface.

The Velata crepe maker now comes in white and is on sale this month for $49.50 vs. the regular $55. This crepes dinner came together very quickly after an evening workout. I left the gym and popped into the grocery store to pick up chicken tenders, asparagus, mushrooms and spinach. My boyfriend set the chicken on one side of the raclette grill to cook, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper.

While grilling chicken and asparagus, we melted cheese in a raclette pan.
While grilling chicken and asparagus, we melted cheese in a raclette pan.

I set the asparagus on the other side of the grill and sauteed the mushrooms in a small pan. (Come to think of it, they could have gone on the grill too to simplify things further.)

I had pre-made the batter before heading out so that the bubbles would settle while the bowl sat in the fridge. I grabbed the crepe maker by the handle and dipped it upside down in its accompanying batter dish to cover the cooking surface.

The Velata crepe maker includes a perfectly sized dish for the batter.
The Velata crepe maker includes a perfectly sized dish for the batter.

Gently pulling up, I flipped the crepe maker and placed it on its cooking platform. The light turns red to indicate it is connected and cooking, Soon enough, the light clicks off to indicate the crepe is done. I repeated this process to create a stack of beautiful, light crepes. Meanwhile, we melted a little bit of Vermont white cheddar cheese in raclette pans that are placed under the grilling top for a broiling effect.

Chicken, asparagus, spinach and mushrooms combine for savory and fresh tasting crepe fillings.
Chicken, asparagus, spinach and mushrooms combine for savory and fresh tasting crepe fillings.

Very quickly, dinner came together as we topped the crepes with grilled chicken, cheese, asparagus, mushrooms, fresh spinach (right out of the bag) and a drizzle of Velata raspberry syrup. It was heavenly. It was also filling without feeling heavy and was a perfect way to enjoy making and eating a weeknight dinner together.

Bon Appetit

The Sage Leopard