Shamelessly Simple Starters for Holiday Fetes

By John Edward Young, Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, December 21, 1995 | Go to article overview

Shamelessly Simple Starters for Holiday Fetes


John Edward Young, Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


HORS d'oeuvres, canapes, appetizers - by whatever name - are those appealing frivolities that tend to set the tone of a dinner party.

They can be as simple and elegant as a freshly shucked oyster wrapped in prosciutto and broiled (see recipe, right); as nasty as a cube of Spam stuck on a toothpick with a wedge of canned pineapple, and a mini-marshmallow, and topped with a Maraschino cherry; or as bizarre as one I found in an old 1950s cookbook called Flaming Cabbage Head Weenies with Pu Pu Sauce.

A hole is bored in the cabbage large enough to hold a small can of Sterno. The outer leaves are turned back in a sort of floral display, and the base of the cabbage is trimmed so it will stand securely.

The Sterno is lit and guests are invited to toast their baby weenies on the ends of toothpicks and dip them in the Pu Pu Sauce. Mmmm, mmm, mmm.

Today a bowl of California dip or celery stuffed with blue cheese just doesn't hack it. But that doesn't mean hors d'oeuvres have to be labor intensive, time consuming, and complex.

I'm reminded of the time I spent three days putting together a Galantine of Turkey in Chaud-Froid served with Mustard and Cumberland Sauces.

Impressive as the show-stopper was, a variety of simple, international hors d'oeuvres is more in keeping with informal, simple party-giving.

Most of the recipes here are embarrassingly easy to prepare.

The idea is to give you time to make a splendid display of attractive appetizers that will leave your guests begging for more. Don't give in!

One thing that cannot be sacrificed is quality of ingredients, especially when it comes to cheeses.

**Shrimp With Roquefort Stuffing

24 large shrimp, cooked and shelled

3 to 4 tablespoons Roquefort cheese, at room temperature

3 ounces chive cream cheese, at room temperature

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (or to taste)

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 teaspoons finely chopped scallions or chives

Butterfly shrimp by cutting them along the back, about halfway through. Blend together Roquefort and cream cheeses, mustard, scallions, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings. With a teaspoon, stuff mixture into shrimp cavity. Roll cheese side of shrimp in chopped scallions. Chill before serving.

**Putti on Horseback

Angels on Horseback was a popular starter in the 19th century. When oysters were not available, sea scallops were used. This is an Italian version of the heavenly Angels on Horseback.

Freshly ground pepper

12 chucked oysters

12 thin slices prosciutto (preferably imported from Parma, Italy)

12 small rounds of toasted bread

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Pepper each oyster lightly. Wrap oysters individually in prosciutto, securing firmly with a wooden toothpick. Place oysters in a shallow pan and bake 2 minutes. Turn and bake an additional minute or two. Place on toast, remove toothpicks, and serve immediately.

**Endive With Salmon Caviar

2 heads endive

Sour cream (about 3/4 cup)

3-ounce jar salmon caviar (or more, if you wish)

Fresh dill for garnish

Separate endive into leaves, using only the whitest ones, wash and pat dry. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of sour cream into base of each leaf. Top with 1/2 teaspoon of the caviar and garnish with a small sprig of fresh dill.

**Dates Stuffed With Cream Cheese, Walnuts, and Raspberries

12 dates

1/4 cup cream cheese

3 tablespoons chopped walnuts

12 fresh raspberries

Split dates and remove seed. …

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