An impromptu gathering — what do I serve?

You just got a phone call from friends wanting to stop by in a couple of hours for drinks and “just a few nibbles.” Do not panic! Repeat that: Do not panic.

by Joanne Henning Tedesco — 

You just got a phone call from friends wanting to stop by in a couple of hours for drinks and “just a few nibbles.” Do not panic! Repeat that: Do not panic. Just straighten up the house, do a quick dusting and then take a little time to prepare an array of appetizers that look and taste as if you had been in the kitchen for a lot longer.

Dim the lights, put on some great music, and when the guests arrive, hand them a glass of good organic wine — pour yourself one, too. Be grateful, relax and enjoy the friendship and good times you will have together.

 

Cranberry Chutney and Brie 

Ingredients:

  • 2 (8-ounce) cans crushed pineapple
  • 1 (16-ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
  • 3 green onions, chopped

Preparation:

Drain pineapple well; pat dry with paper towels. Stir together pineapple, cranberries, brown sugar, ground ginger and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often, 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat, and stir in jalapeño and green onions. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Serve over warmed Brie or cream cheese.

 

Crab Delight

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound cooked Alaskan king crab legs (about 2)
  • 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons medium-dry sherry
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon lemon juice, to taste
  • Toasted baguette slices

Preparation:

Crack crab shells with kitchen shears and extract meat. Cut enough crab meat into 1/2-inch pieces to fill 1/2 cup and transfer to a bowl. Pulse remaining crab meat in a food processor to finely chop (do not over-process). Add to bowl with remaining ingredients and stir well. Season with salt, to taste. Pack into a 1-1/2 cup crock or bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill at least 2 hours. Can keep refrigerated for two to three days. Bring to room temperature before serving with toasted baguette slices.

 

Prosciutto-Wrapped Bread Sticks

Ingredients:

  • Slices of prosciutto
  • Crunchy, slim bread sticks or fresh, slender asparagus spears
  • Parsley, for garnish

Preparation:

Wrap the prosciutto around a bread stick or asparagus spear and display standing upright in a tall glass. Garnish with parsley.

 

Melon, Mozzarella and Prosciutto Skewers

Ingredients:

  • 20 (1-inch) cantaloupe or honeydew cubes (about 2-1/2 cups)
  • 20 thin slices prosciutto (about 1/2 lb.)
  • 20 fresh small mozzarella cheese balls (one 8-ounce tub)
  • 20 (4-inch) wooden skewers
  • Black pepper, freshly cracked

Preparation:

Thread one melon cube, one prosciutto slice and one mozzarella ball onto each skewer. Sprinkle with cracked pepper.

 

Caesar Salad Bites

Ingredients:

  • 2 romaine lettuce hearts
  • 2/3 cup bottled refrigerated creamy Caesar dressing
  • 1/2 English cucumber, chopped
  • 1-1/4 cups small seasoned croutons
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste

Preparation:

Separate romaine hearts into 24 medium leaves and arrange on a large platter. Spoon dressing lightly down center of each leaf. Top with chopped cucumber, croutons, grape tomatoes and parsley. Sprinkle with pepper, to taste.

 

Creamy Berry Cheese Spread

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (or dried strawberries)
  • 1/4 cup dried blueberries
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (6 ounce) package blue cheese, crumbled
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Preparation:

Put the dried berries into a large mixing bowl. Pour enough boiling water over the berries to just cover. Allow the berries to stand in the water for 1 minute. Drain well and set the berries aside. Place the cream cheese and blue cheese in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until almost smooth. Stir in the berries, onions and garlic with a rubber spatula until well combined. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Fold in the pecans just before serving. Serve with hearty crackers or crusty breads.

 

Sources: www.gourmet.com and Joanne’s new recipe box.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 31, Number 6, December 2012/January 2013.

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