Friday, January 6, 2012

More nibbles, more fun

Small bites are, I think, the best way to do a party.  I like to offer lots of little tastes and lots of great-looking food in stages.  Appetizers and nibbles placed in various spots throughout the house encourage guests to move around and mingle with other guests.  Surround your guests with food, make them turn and look around to find the treasures you've prepared.  It's a happy hunt.

Here are four more small bites recipes from the New Year's Day party.  A lot of the prep work can be done a day ahead, so you can relax during your party and enjoy your guests when they come into the kitchen to talk to you.  In fact, you can even leave the kitchen to talk to them!

Sherried Mushroom Caps Stuffed with Crabmeat

Make these and you'll fall in love with their creamy, silky filling and the rich sherry undertones.  Find the recipe in this previous post from last spring.

Toasted Shrimp Crostini

These crusty and delicious open-face sandwiches are a hit every time I make them.  

1/2 lb. small to medium-size raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tbs. EVOO
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped green onion (tops only)
3 Tbs. sliced black olives
2 Tbs. chopped roasted red pepper or pimiento
2 tsp. dry mustard

1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 dash cayenne pepper
1 loaf soft French bread, sliced into 1" slices and toasted gently

2 cups (or more) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
chopped flat leaf parsley, for garnish.

1. Combine shrimp, EVOO, garlic, red onion, green onion tops, black olives, roasted red pepper, dry mustard, salt, lemon juice, red wine vinegar and cayenne pepper in a medium-sized bowl.  Cover and chill for up to 3 hours.

2.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
3.  Lay toasted bread slices out on a large baking sheet.
4.  Using a slotted spoon to drain off as much liquid as possible, place about 2 Tbs. marinated shrimp mixture on each slice of bread.
5.  Scatter shredded cheese on top of each crostini.
6.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.
7.  Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.  Makes about 18 crostini.

Hotsy Totsy Potato Chips

These are as easy as it gets and gorgeous to look at.  Use thick cut potato chips (such as Kettle Brand) and lay out chips on a large platter.  Place a small dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche on each chip.  This is easiest to do with a squeeze bottle.  You can also flavor the sour cream or creme fraiche with herbs or aromatics (like chives, garlic, shallots, parsley, etc.).  Then, using a demitasse spoon or butter knife, place a small amount of the best caviar you can afford on each dollop of sour cream/creme fraiche.  I like to use two different, contrasting caviars (like wild bowfin roe, which is black and tiny, and salmon roe, which is orange and a little larger).  Then garnish with snipped chives and serve.  That's it! 

Rosemary and Orange-Scented Roasted Olives with Warm Goat Cheese

This is a lovely dish to serve.  The scent of the orange peel and the herbs, the glistening olives, the creamy goat cheese--they all conspire to make you want to dive in.  Bonus: it's easy and the olives can be marinated up to two days prior to serving.

2 cups assorted pitted olives (I used jumbo black olives, jumbo queen olives, garlic stuffed olives and kalamatas)
1/2 to 1 cup torn pieces of roasted red pepper
4 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
4 strips fresh orange peel 
1 tsp. fresh or dried rosemary
1/2 cup EVOO
Freshly ground pepper
8 oz. chevre or other soft goat cheese
crackers or baguette for serving

1.  Combine olives with garlic cloves, orange peel, rosemary, EVOO and pepper.  If you want a little more oil, feel free to add more since it's delicious drizzled on almost everything. 
2.  Let olives sit in a cool place for at least 12 hours.
3.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
4.  Arrange goat cheese in the center of a oven proof dish, such as a deep dish pie plate or flan pan.
5.  Arrange marinated olive mixture around the goat cheese.
6.  Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until goat cheese is soft and melted.
7.  Serve with crackers or crusty slices of baguette.  Serves 12 people.

May your tastebuds dance in the new year!

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