Home Cooking Recipes
home cooking recipes                                            home cooking recipes
Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour

Nibble your way into the new year

It takes a lot of will power to let the hors d'oeuvres pass under your nose and not follow the scent. We weaker mortals sample as many as possible "so that the hostess won't be offended," even though we begin to feel a lot like porky pig.

So what happens? We continue to pig out, that's what happens! As the saying goes, "Ain't we got fun?"

The answer is yes, because it's almost as much fun to make the treacherous little bites as it is to eat them. Here are a few high impact items that should be found in everyone's repertory.

Paula's Clam Dip

Originally from Gourmet magazine. This takes only 15 minutes to assemble.

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
2 cans (6 1/2 oz. each) chopped clams, drained
2 tablespoons juice from canned clams
1/2 cup finely chopped tomato
3 scallions (or other mild onion), chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Stir together all ingredients and serve with any kind of chips. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Green Olives with Fennel

You can make this well ahead; they will keep a month or longer.

1 jar or can (10 oz.) green olives with pits
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 piece orange peel about 3-inches long and 1/8-inch wide
1/4 cup fresh tarragon (about 1 tablespoon dried)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Drain olives and discard the brine. Using the back of a spoon, press each of the olives just hard enough to crack it open. Do not remove the pits. Put olives in a small bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Turn the olives to oat them. Cover bowl and let olives marinate in the refrigerator for a week before serving. Store in the refrigerator. Makes 1 cup.

Anchovy Puffs

Frozen puff pastry means this is easily made and can be served hot or cold. Makes a heap.

2 cans (2 oz. each) anchovy fillets
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1/4 cup minced fresh thyme leaves

Remove anchovy fillets from oil, keeping the oil. Cut fillets into small pieces and set aside. Combine oil with garlic cloves. Using back of a fork or a mortar and pestle, mash garlic and oil to make a paste. If necessary, roll thawed pastry sheet into 10- by 12-inch rectangle. Spread pastry sheet with the oil and garlic paste. Cut pastry into 120 pieces, each 1-inch square. Top each square with a piece or two of anchovy and a pinch of thyme. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake at 325 F. until golden brown and puffs have risen almost and inch, about 25 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature. Makes 120 puffs.

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Serve these hot--they are quick and easy!

24 mushrooms (about 1-inch in diameter)
1/3 pound seasoned bulk pork sausage
3 tablespoons seasoned dried breadcrumbs

Heat broiler. Scoop out mushroom stems with a very small spoon and save or another use. Mix pork sausage and dried breadcrumbs. Mound meat mixture in caps and place on a rimmed baking pan. Broil until meat is well browned, about 5 minutes. Scatter with chopped parsley leaves. Makes 24.

Apricots with Goat Cheese

1/2 pound soft dried apricots
6 ounces goat cheese
Dried herbs, edible flowers or leaves
1/4 cup shelled, salted pistachio nuts

Shape goat cheese into a round and decorate surface with colorful herbs, flowers or leaves. Serve on a tray with the dried apricots to be spread with the cheese and eaten with the pistachios. Makes 12 servings.

Smoked Salmon on Pumpernickle

Quick, easy and pretty. You can skip the bread and arrange the other ingredients on a cucumber slice.

Smoked salmon
Cucumber slices
Onion, finely chopped
Lemon wedges
Pumpernickel bread, lightly buttered

Place thin pieces of smoked salmon on cucumber slices. Arrange on a plate or tray and let your guests top with onion and/or capers and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Makes as many as you like.

Another Way to Serve Smoked Salmon

Salmon with horseradish is so good it can bring tears to your eyes.

8 thin slices dark pumpernickel or use cocktail bread
10 tablespoons crème fraiche or sour cream
2 tablespoons horseradish, more to taste
2 tablespoon finely chopped chives or onion
Salt, to taste
1/2 pound thin sliced smoked salmon

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place bread pieces on baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted but still soft in the center; cut into triangles. Meanwhile, whisk together the crème fraiche, horseradish and chives. Add more horseradish and salt to taste. Spoon a little horseradish cream on each triangle of bread and top with folds of salmon. Makes 16 or 32 (depending on size of bread slices).

Peace to all on plant earth in 2004!


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