Sunday, January 2, 2011

An Appetizer Party: Cold Appetizers

We closed 2010 with a party at my parents' house. We spent much of December 30th and 31st planning and preparing a suite of appetizers to serve in lieu of a sit-down dinner. Following is an account of what we decided on, how we prepared it, and most importantly: how it looked.

Shrimp Cocktail


Ingredients: 
  1. Raw, frozen shrimp
  2. Lemon
  3. Sea Salt/Kosher Salt
  4. Ketchup
  5. Horseradish
  6. Worcestershire Sauce
  7. Sugar
  8. Tobasco
Directions: 

Thaw shrimp and toss in kosher salt. Bring a huge pot of water to a boil - if you forgot to let the shrimp sit in kosher salt, add some sea salt to the water. We squeezed a lemon in too. 

Drop the shrimp into the boiling water and watch carefully. It's done when it curls/turns pink/floats in the water (experience finds that they tend to be done 30 seconds before you're confident they're done). Drain the hot water, and rinse the shrimp in cold water to keep them from cooking any more. Shell the shrimp - you don't want to buy pre-shelled because all the flavour is in the shell - and then pop them in the fridge until ready to serve.

The cocktail sauce is prepared by combining ketchup, horseradish, worcestershire sauce, sugar, and a touch of tobasco to taste. For details, ask Dave.

Garnish with leaf lettuce and lemon wedges, and serve in a bowl over ice to keep them cool.


Oyster Roll


Ingredients: 
  1. Two 8 oz.  packages of cream cheese
  2. 1 clove of garlic, minced
  3. 2 tsp finely minced onion
  4. 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  5. 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
  6. 2 packages of smoked oysters
Make sure the cream cheese is soft by leaving it out of the refrigerator for a few hours, then mix together all the ingredients but the oysters. Spread this mixture on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet to form a rectangle that's about 1/2 an inch thick.

Chill.


And put the baking sheet in the fridge until firm-ish (about an hour or so).

Prepare the oysters by draining them and patting them dry. Smush them a little as you arrange them on the cream cheese rectangle for even coverage, leaving a little bit of space at the edges.

Roll along the long edge of the rectangle (like a jelly roll), and then smooth the surface with a knife.

Garnish with parsley or tomatoes and baby spinach and then serve with crackers or baguette.


Tomato, Basil, and Bocconcini Skewers



Ingredients (for 40 skewers):

  1. 40 Cherry tomatoes
  2. Fresh basil
  3. 40 "small" bocconcini balls
  4. Olive oil (about 1/3 cup)
  5. Salt (about 1.5 tsp)
  6. Fresh ground pepper (about 2 tsp)
  7. 2-3 cloves of garlic
Quick recipe: get a toothpick, skewer a tomato, a small piece of basil and a bocconcini ball. Repeat. 

For added yumminess, flavour the bocconcini in advance by soaking them in a seasoned oil. 

To make the oil, mince garlic and (about a tablespoon of) fresh basil. Add these to about 1/3 cup of olive oil with salt and pepper. Heat until quite warm, then cool. Dry 40-45 bocconcini balls (it's best to do a few extra in case of accidents or snacking), then put them in a ziploc bag with the cooled oil. Let them sit for a few hours in the fridge, and then execute the quick recipe outlined above. Leftover oil can be drizzled over the plated skewers. 

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus


Ingredients:
  1. A small wheel of Boursin cheese (garlic and herb flavour is delicious)
  2. 40 medium-sized spears of asparagus
  3. 20 slices of prosciutto
  4. Zest from one lemon
  5. Cracked black pepper
Break the tough ends off the asparagus spears. We also trimmed these rough edges with a knife for presentation purposes. Blanche the asparagus by submerging it in boiling water for about 2 minutes, and then drain it and rinse it in cold water to stop any further cooking. Pat dry and set aside. 

Prepare the prosciutto by spreading a thin layer of cheese on each slice and then cutting it in half (along its shorter dimension). Sprinkle cracked black pepper on the cheese, and then wrap the prosciutto around the middle of an asparagus spear. One slice of prosciutto should do two asparagus spears. 

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