LOOKING for: Appetisers For Fearless Em

gardenladJanuary 25, 2007

Over on the progressive dinner thread, Fearless Em noted that she only had one T&T appetiser in her whole cooking arsenal. "So I am looking forward to future weeks where I can snag some good appetizer recipes," she said.

I don't see any reason she should have to wait weeks and weeks. Figured we could all start posting ideas and recipes for her now.

For starters (yes, I do have a punning license), let's look at some concepts.

Appetisers should be small, easily handled, and tasty. The whole idea is to get the juices flowing, to prepare the stomach for the feast ahead. Appetisers should also promote good conversation among the guests.

Just as with the main dish, itself, you want appetisers to compliment the flavors of what's to come, rather than conflict with them. Typically (but not always) this means a totally differnt type of food. If you're serving beef as the main course, appetisers should be fish, or fowl, or straight vegetarian most times. A hot (as in spicy) main course should not be preceeded by a hot appetiser. And so forth.

Give some thought to how you can convert main dish recipes into bite-sized morsals. Do that, and you have an incredible repetory of possibilities. You'll find that your cookie cutters can be invaluable in this regard. With them, you can create equal-sized pieces of chicken breast or fish filets, or shape forcemeat, or cut pastry, veggies, etc.

Got a favorite meatball recipe? Reduce the balls to the size of marbles, and poof! There's an appetiser.

Won ton wrappers can be an invaluable aid to preparing appetisers. use them as designed, to wrap around foodstuffs. Or combine two of them, to produce ravioli type dishes. Or bake them in muffin tins, to create individual, edible serving cups you can then fill with whatever.

Here are ways to use each method: Pan fry some ground pork with appropriate spices. Add some chopped onion, grated cabbage, and bean spouts. Let cool. Fill a won ton wrapper, fold over, and fry. Make a mushroom filling (I've posted this before) and sandwhich it between two wrappers. Cut into rounds and either boil, bake, or fry. And from Ann T comes the idea of filling a won ton cup with guacomole topped with a sauteed shrimp.

Vertical presentations are almost always more appealing. So, while keeping the total amount small, pile things upwards. For instance, I make reduced-size lamb patties, which are placed on a sweet-potato round, and topped with minted aioli. A mint leaf towers over the whole thing. Where appropriate, criss-cross items to build height, and use garnishes in a manner that accentuates the visible appeal as well as taste.

Finally, something every cook probably knows. But it bears repeating: Anything tastes better wrapped in bacon.

Here's one of my appetisers you might find appealing. It's a classic case of reducing a main dish entree into a starter:

Mini-Hot Browns.

Hot browns were first served at the Brown Hotel, in Louisville, Kentucky, back in the '20s, and have become a staple in the Bluegrass State. Nowadays mostly served with a cheddar sauce and garnished with tomatoes, the original used a Morney sauce, and garnished with mushrooms.

Make a thick Mornay sauce: Saute 1-2 tbls minced onion in 3 tbls butter. Add 3 tbls flour and cook for another minute. Slowly pour in 2 cups heated cream, stirring. Add salt, pepper, flecks of parsley, and a dash of mutmeg, and let cook down until very thick. For each 2 cups of sauce add 2 egg yolks (tempering them first). Stir until reaching boiling point. Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup grated Parmesan and 1 tbls butter.

Cut bacon into lardings and fry until browned. Drain on paper towels and reserve.

Carve a small mushroom cap for each hot brown. Gently saute in butter.

Toast slices of bread (I prefer oatmeal bread for this). Using a 2 1/2-3" cookie cutter (I use a fluted one), cut the bread into rounds. Use the same cookie cutter to cut 1/4" thick slices of chicken breast into the same sized rounds. Make the same number as bread rounds. Then go down a size and cut an equal number of chicken rounds. Finally, cut out tiny buttons of chicken (I use a length of 1/2" pvc for this), making 3 for each big piece.

On each bread round lay a large piece of chicken. Then center a smaller round on it. Top that with 3 buttons, in a slightly overlapping triangle. Top with a dollop of Mornay sauce, sprinkle with Parmesan, and pop under the broiler until they sauce gets suntanned.

Decorate each tower with bacon lardings, and top with a mushroom cap.

How about the rest of you? Let's help Em out.

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Here are two of my favorites.


This is a very quick recipe to make; just remember to start marinating the salmon the day ahead. You can easily half or double the amounts.

1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup soy sauce
24 ounces skinned salmon fillet
1/4 cup freshly ground black pepper
vegetable or canola oil

Cut salmon into bite-size cubes. Combine maple syrup and soy sauce in a medium-size bowl and add salmon, making sure the fish is fully immersed in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Grease a sheet of aluminum foil with the oil (vegetable oil sprays work well). Preheat oven to 500F. Put pepper in small bowl or plate and dip top of salmon pieces into pepper. Place each peppered piece on foil, then cook in oven for 3 to 4 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 6 as an hors d'oeuvre.

Antipasto Bowl
This appetizer should be made two hours in advance.

3 cups (2-inch) sliced asparagus (about 3/4 pound)
3 cups quartered mushrooms (about 3/4 pound)
1 cup red bell pepper strips
1/2 cup pitted ripe olives
3 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, cubed (about 2/3 cup)
1 (14-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1 (11.5-ounce) jar pickled pepperoncini peppers, drained
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced

Steam asparagus, covered, for 2 minutes. Drain and plunge into ice water; drain well. Combine the asparagus, mushrooms, and the next 5 ingredients (mushrooms through pepperoncini peppers) in a large bowl.
Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a small bowl; stir well with a whisk. Pour vinaigrette over the vegetable mixture, tossing gently to coat. Cover and marinate in refrigerator 2 hours; stir occasionally.
Note: Can be served chilled or at room temperature.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 4:35PM
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Very thoughtful gardenlad! I am out of town at the moment with limited internet access, but will look forward to these waiting for me when I get back home (and back to being glued to my computer) on Sunday!


    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 6:38PM
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Emily, I have so many T&T Appetizer recipes, it's my favourite thing to do. Some are hot some are cold, some are for casual get togethers, others for a more formal gathering.

I have often served nothing but appetizers! Some of my favourites are listed below. Not all are my recipes but every one is a T &T recipes from me or the CF:

Stuffed Mushrooms
Stacked Pizza (oh how I hate that name it doesn't describe this treat well, it's layers of phylo topped with tomatoes, herbs and cheese)
Spanikopita....one of my all time fav's, a classic
Sui Mai
Gougere ( ann T)
Louisianna BBQ Shrimp (Cindy)
Garlic Shrimp (Ann T)
Homemade Boursin
Caprese Kabobs
Antipasto Platter...one of my favourites for just about any occasion
Escargot in Mushroom Caps or Bread cups (Ann T)
Creton , a rustic homemade pate from Quebec( Monique )
Palmiers with Proscuitto and Mustard
Smoked salmon on rye rounds with onion and capers

Emily if any of these interest you I will happily post the recipe.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 2:36PM
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I don't know about Emily, but I'd like to hear more about that Creton.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 2:56PM
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For years I was back and forth to Montreal and Quebec City on business. One of the lovely little appetizers I enjoyed most was a "sorta" pate. It was very rustic and simple but so darn good. I most often had it with a baguette and olives with pre dinner drinks but it was often served as part of a continetal breakfast.

I've never seen this outside of Quebec. A month or so ago Monique posted the recipe over on the CF... I was so suprised. I was also suprised to see she made it in the microwave! Subsquent to that Lee (from Denver) made the recipe and raved about it....so I tried it.

Ces't manifique Monique, merci !

Cretons Rapides Au Micro-Ondes

1 Lb ground pork
1 Cup of milk
8 crushed soda crackers
1 finely chopped onion
minced garlic cloves
1/4 Tsp of cinnamon
1/8 Tsp ground cloves
1 Tsp salt
1/4 Tsp of pepper herbs if desired

Put all ingredients in a microwave safe dish..mix well.
Cook at high for 5 mins. Mix again Cook another 5 mins Mix again Cook 3 more mins.
Mix and let rest 6 mins. Now.. a lot of people put this mixture in the food processor..we like it more rustic..as is..I pack it in pretty ramekins.
I also add a bit more cinnamon..Let me know..I hope you like them. With Mustard on top ..I favor them:)
They actually freeze quite well also. Dills will be divine alongside :)~

Good luck!

Lee's notes were that she "upped" the spices.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 3:35PM
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