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Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Favorite Vegetarian Appetizer - Easy for the Holidays!

Wow three days before Christmas & your relatives and friends could already be galloping in route to your house for the Holiday/Christmas day festivities. You got everything covered so you think... but need a delicious - EASY vegetarian appetizer for your Auntie Trudy who always complains there's nothing for her to eat. There's always one in every group but not to worry. Here is one of my favorite appetizers that works for everyone, even the staunch carnivores in your pack.  These are so easy to assemble,you can put your children in charge...but not the baby.   Let me know what you think please.  And good luck with your holiday culinary prep.

Makes 30
8 Ounces of Brie Cheese
1 Fuji Apple  (Cut into small cubes & wedge the bottom. It's easier to push into the cheese.)  
1 Cup Mango Chutney
30 Whole Pecans
2 Packages Mini Phyllo Cups or Shells (Can buy in frozen section: The Fillo Factory or Athens Brand)
3 Scallions (Slice diagonally & about an inch long to make 30 tiny spears)

Preheat oven 350F.   
When filling the phyllo cups, I leave them in the packaged plastic container to hold in place then transfer to cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.  Add to each shell about a ½ teaspoon of mango chutney, ½ teaspoon of Brie.  Don’t over fill or they will collapse.  Place colorful edge of apple, wedged at the bottom, into brie and place whole pecan standing straight up to the side of apple. Bake for 10 minutes or when cheese is bubbling, as soon as they come out the oven add scallion spear while cheese is still soft.

This appetizer is one of the favorites of all appetizers.  It is the most frequently called for at my events and has been displayed with almost every color imaginable.  Again solids are where you want to stay. The photo above shows the tiny brie and Fuji apple hors d'oeuvres presented on a combination of orange and fuchsia colored glass plates purchased from Target about six years ago.  When I spotted these lovely French style glass plates, I had to get out my bloody pressure cup and checked my pulse from the sheer excitement.  I then proceeded to purchase all I could find in the New Jersey area and yes at full price.  This was a one shot deal and I knew it.  I haven’t been able to find anything like them since.  So if you see something you must have in these big box stores, bite the bullet and go for it because more than likely that’s the end of that product.  My regret is that I didn’t get more of them. 

You might notice in a lot of my photos the use of tiny Pears and Lady Apples. These are an attractive and relatively understated touch to boost the appearance and add a little class to your display.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


This is my take on the very popular Shrimp Cocktail.  The whole idea of shrimp cocktail makes me yawn.  I would never order it because it so boring and I decided to create something that would actually get my attention.  I recently discovered these beautiful little cones manufactured by PIDY.  You can check them out on line.  I thought it would be very cool to use them in my new shrimp cocktail recipe. The only caution I might have with this casement is that it does get soggy if you let them set for a long time but what doesn't. Never the less try this for your next party appetizer.      

Makes 30
30 Tiny Cones ( Pidy Brand Can be order on line)
30 Large Shrimp (Pre-cooked)
1 Jar 8 Ounces McCormick Cocktail Sauce
1 Large Nectarine (Diced Finely)
5 Ounces Baby Arugula (Rinse well in cold water)

Thaw frozen precooked shrimp and take off tail. Add chopped nectarine into cocktail sauce and mix.  Insert two baby arugula leaves into tiny cone extending from each side.  Put a tiny amount of cocktail sauce inside cone then place tail of shrimp inside and hanging over the edge of cone and add a bit more cocktail sauce on the outside leaves and top of shrimp.

The photo shows gold Painters Pallet that is made specifically to hold the tiny cones in place.  Gourmet Pidy manufactures these casements and includes the pallet in gold or silver when turning it over.  The gold finish beautifully reflects the colors of the shrimp, nectarine and arugula leaves.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Having an all vegetarian appetizer buffet for your holiday party could be viewed as sort of starting out healthy for the New Year. I've put together a nice balance of flavors and attractive color combinations that will distract your guests from wondering where's the meat. Please request recipes from any of the following items on the menu and I'll post them asap. I'll certainly keep the holiday stuff coming.


 Indian Samosas made with Phyllo Pastry served with Baba Ganoush (Egg plant, Garlic, Tahini and Parsley Dipping Sauce) & Cucumber- Mango- Cumin Yogurt Dipping Sauce

 Char-Grilled Indian Cheese Skewers with Paneer Cheese, Grilled Eggplant & Grape Tomato served with Spicy Satay Sauce

 Miso Grilled Shiitaki Mushrooms, Egg, Carrot and Green Onion Sushi rolled in Brown Rice & Black Sesame Seeds.  Served with Ginger Plum Sauce

 Three Bean &Fontina Cheese Empanadita with Avocado-Nectarine Salsa

 Eggplant, Edam Cheese and Pine Nut Fritter with Crème Fraiche, Roasted Tomatoes & Arugula

 Tomato Basil Tortellini with Fresh Mozzarella, Sun-Dried Tomato & Kalamata Olive Skewer with Pinot Noir Tomato-Basil Dipping Sauce

Tiny Assorted Vegetarian Pizza

 Brie Cheese, Mango Chutney, Pecan and Fuji Apple in tiny Phyllo Cup

  Assorted Cheese Platter

Grilled, Steamed & Raw Vegetable Platter with Assorted Dips


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holiday Party Appetizer: Adobe Deviled Eggs

Hello Hello Foodies of the cyber world!!  I am the new blog on the block and indeed excited to share my food design stuff with you.

Basically what I'll be doing is taking a relatively simple food idea & spinning the hell out of it, tweaking it & tweaking it again.... then I will try to make it even more beautiful than it was before. 

So what..I am a FREAK . Food has to be interesting, with flavor to the hilt & absolutely gorgeous or what's the point. I will try to pawn it off as simple because that is what I do but here's the thing... I am going to give you the coolest stuff I have, break it down to as simple as I can then let you be the judge of it.  I don't use recipes so this is really the challenge here.  I will do my best to put it down right & if it sucks you can string me up and blog me later.

Makes 12
6 Hard Boiled Eggs
1 Tablespoon Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix (Dry)
2 Ounces Goat Cheese
1 Tablespoon Orange Marmalade
1 Tablespoon Black Poppy Seeds (Garnish)
12 approximately  3/4 of an inch Chive Sticks 

Bring eggs to a boil, simmer for 15 minutes then put under cold water immediately and shell.
Slice eggs in half (not lengthwise) remove yokes and put in food processor, add goat cheese, seasoning and marmalade, blend till creamy.
Slice a small sliver off the bottom of each egg half so they will stand straight up and level.

1 Cup Beet Juice (I buy a 12ounce can of beets, empty the juice and use them in a salad later.)
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Combine all ingredients. In a large bowl add the 12 egg halves, completely cover each egg with the beet juice combination and let sit for about 10 minutes till eggs are vivid pink or adobe color. Pat dry with paper towels.

Use pastry tube to pipe creamy mixture into eggs

Sprinkle tops with black poppy seeds and apply 2 chive sticks in V formation.   

The photo illustrates a white platter I bought at Pier One.  This store is a great source for platters and party accessories but can be a bit pricy.  I usually wait for sales or the odd coupon.
These little deviled eggs look best on a solid background to pop all the colors.  White, black or red would all be stunners.        

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pretty Little Meatloaf Cupcakes

This is a recipe I came up with after the horror of seeing all the not so attractive versions of meatloaf.  I know I know it's a comfort food. It's not supposed to look pretty.  So here is my take on meatloaf.  I do two sizes using a miniature or regular muffin tin.  The minis are perfect as a passed hors d'oeuvres at your holiday cocktail party.  No one will believe it just meatloaf.  The larger muffin size can be served as one of your heavy appetizers on the Christmas buffet.


Makes 30
1 Pound of Lean Ground Beef
1 Small Red Onion (Chopped Finely)
½ Cup Sweet Corn (Thaw if frozen)
1 Cup Rice Krispies
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
¼ Cup Ketchup
2 Tablespoons Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix (GSIDM)
2 Scallions Finley Chopped (Garnish for half of meat loaf appetizers)
30 Grape Tomatoes Sliced Thinly (Garnish for half of meat loaf appetizers)
16 Ounces Refrigerated Store Bought Mashed Potatoes
30 Miniature Cup Cake Paper Casements (I used 2 colors)
2 Miniature Cup Cake Non-Stick Tins    

I cheat like crazy when it comes to mash potatoes.  The refrigerated premade store brands are great when you consider the time it takes to make your own.  There are several brands but the one I like the most is Reser’s.  It’s as good if not better than my homemade. I don’t mess with the flavor at all. Shocking!!
Open the plastic seal to breath and place entire container of potatoes into microwave for 4 minutes, remove and stir till all lumps are gone.  Assemble your pastry bag with a medium size tip and fill with creamy mash potatoes about three quarters the way up.  You’ll need the area at the bottom of bag to hold and squeeze out potato.     I order my plastic decorating bags on line.  Ateco Brand Clear Disposable 18 inch, 10 bags to a container.   They come in a variety of sizes if 18 inches is too big.

Preheat oven at 400 F
In large bowl mix all ingredients except mash potatoes, tomatoes and scallions.  Roll mixture into tiny meat balls about one and a half inch in diameter and fill each muffin hole by pressing ball into it creating a cupcake form.
 Bake for 25 minutes and remove from tin and place on paper towels to absorb the grease.
Place in cupcake papers and using a pastry bag with medium decorative tip, pipe on a tiny flower of mashed potato to each meat loaf.   Garnish half with a tiny slice of grape tomato and half with chopped scallions

The photo above shows the tiny meat loaf presented in two colors; purples and multi- color miniature cupcake paper casements and place on a ceramic white platter.  The white background pops all colors beautifully.  Solid black would be delightful and well as hunter green or red.