Holiday Party Hors d'oeuvres II

by Mark R. Vogel

            The holidays are here again and that means cocktail parties and formal dinners.  Either way that means appetizers.  Welcome to the second edition of Holiday Party Hors d’oeuvres and happy holidays to everyone!

BRAUNSCHEIGER DIP

            One of the most famous liverwursts, Braunschweiger is a smoked liver sausage enriched with eggs and milk.  You can find it in the packaged meat section of your supermarket. 

1 (8-oz.) tube Braunschweiger
3 oz. softened cream cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2-3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

            Combine all of the ingredients, pat into a bowl lined with plastic wrap, then fold over the excess wrap to cover and chill.  Invert onto a serving plate and turn out. Remove the plastic wrap. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley.  Serve with crackers, bread and/or vegetable sticks.

GARLIC DIP

            This recipe comes from Sheilah Kaufman’s book: “Simply Irresistible:  Easy, Elegant, Fearless, Fussless Cooking.”   

4 large garlic cloves peeled
Bunch of fresh parsley
6 oz. can smoked almonds
2 scant cups mayonnaise

            Put garlic, parsley, and almonds in a food processor, and process until the nuts have reduced to tiny pieces but can still be seen.  Do not completely puree.  Place the mixture in a bowl and fold in mayonnaise.  Stir before serving.  Serve with crackers, bread and/or vegetable sticks.

SPINACH & FONTINA CHEESE TARTLETS

6 oz. baby spinach
Olive oil as needed
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package refrigerated pie crusts
2 eggs
2 oz. heavy cream
4 oz. shredded Fontina cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

            Preheat oven to 350.  Begin sautéing the spinach in olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the shallot.  When almost done add the garlic.  Remove from heat and set aside.  With a 2 ½ inch round biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out 24 discs from the pie crusts.  Lightly grease a 24 cup mini-muffin pan.  Line each muffin cup with one of the pieces of dough.  Evenly distribute the spinach into the dough-lined muffin cups, tamping it down as you do so.  Mix the eggs and cream with some salt and pepper and beat.  Pour about a teaspoon of the egg mixture into each cup.  Do not overfill.  You will probably have some egg mixture left over.  Top each one with a little cheese and bake for 12 – 15 minutes. 

CARAMEL, DATE, & PECAN TOPPED BRIE

One handful pecans
Half cup dates, chopped
One wedge of Brie cheese
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

            Toast the pecans on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for eight to ten minutes.  Sprinkle the pecans and dates on top of the brie.  Cook sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat stirring frequently.   As the sugar heats it will melt and start to turn a caramel color.  When the sugar has completely melted and attained a rich caramel color immediately remove it from the stove and stir in the butter.  Once the butter is completely incorporated pour it over the pecan and date topped brie.  It will harden quickly.  Serve with assorted crackers or toasted French bread.

CLAMS IN PANCETTA BROTH

6 oz pancetta, cut into a small dice
2 tablespoons olive oil
One batch of scallions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
24 littleneck clams
One cup white wine
One cup vegetable broth
Fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

            Sauté the pancetta and scallions in a large pot in the olive oil until the pancetta is browned and the scallions are soft.  Add the garlic and sauté one minute more.  Add the wine and bring to a boil as you scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pot.  Reduce the wine by about half.  Add the vegetable broth, bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer.  Reduce the broth by about a third.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Add the clams.  Cover and cook on medium heat until the clams open.  Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve. 

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