For a New Year's Eve party, many of us will pick up tiny quiches, individual cheesecakes, ready-made salsas and guacamole, and frozen spinach and artichoke dip from the supermarket or big box store.
But 30 years ago, when one of the first Herald-Leader holiday cookbooks was published, readers sent in recipes that reflected their personal cooking abilities. Prizes were awarded for the best dishes, so cooks sent recipes that they were noted for, because their reputations were on the line.
In the 1976 and 1977 What's Cooking in the Bluegrass summer cookbooks, there were no appetizers included, but in the 1980 winter cookbook, there were recipes for reuben balls, hot clam spread, hot cheese loaf, and taco biscuit appetizers.
In 1981, crispy cheese wafers, stuffed mushrooms, smoked oyster roll, black olive cheese balls and French-fried deviled eggs were the rage. The 1982 holiday edition featured mostly cheese balls, with a ham and cheese ball made with 12 ingredients, leading the group.
Poor man's caviar, hot pepper ring, homemade Boursin cheese, veggie pizzas, and spinach balls were crowd pleasers in 1983.
In 1988, cooking from scratch was still in vogue. A recipe for smoked salmon with spinach and asparagus from the Le Donne Chez Soi restaurant in Brussels was sent in by Francoise Geleyn-McNeese, who had just moved to Lexington. Cheese and spinach puffs, pepped-up cheese bake, chicken mold and Chinese meatballs were the favorites that year.
In 1993, the Second Serving series of cookbooks was introduced and featured some of the best recipes from the weekly food sections. Skip ahead five years, and recipes began to reflect the age when many cooks were turning to ready-made products to help them get family dinners or party fare on the table. The 1998 fall cookbook featured recipes for pesto baked brie (two ingredients), crostini (French bread slices, olive oil and garlic), mini corn muffins (corn muffin mix, pimentos, cheese, chili powder) and spicy dip (cream cheese, Cheddar cheese, salsa, and jalapeños).
From those early editions of Herald-Leader cookbooks, we've chosen a few of the best appetizer recipes to serve at your 2013 New Year's Eve party.
■ Wilmoth Cunningham of Lexington won $25 for the winning appetizer recipe. Cunningham, 69 at the time, submitted her version of beer cheese.
Cunningham's beer cheese
2 pounds mellow yellow cheese
1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese
2 cans (4 ounces each) pimentos
2 small onions
¼ teaspoon garlic powder, or to taste
1 ounce hot sauce
1 red pepper pod or ½ teaspoon red cayenne pepper to taste
½ can stale beer, or equal parts ketchup and mayonnaise to moisten
Grind cheeses, pimentos and onions in a food chopper. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Makes about 4 pounds beer cheese. If you don't have a food grinder, mash cheese with fork after it comes to room temperature.
■ This recipe was submitted from Donna La Rosa of Lexington.
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
3 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon beef bouillon granules
½ cup water
1 can (16 ounces) sauerkraut, drained and finely chopped
1½ cups chopped corned beef
1 tablespoon snipped parsley
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1½ cups flour
1¾ cups dry bread crumbs
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons dry onion soup mix
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
In a skillet, cook onion and garlic in butter. Blend in 3 tablespoons flour and bouillon granules. Add ½ cup water. Cook and stir until bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in sauerkraut, corned beef and parsley. Chill.
Form sauerkraut mixture into 48 small balls. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk and flour. Beat until smooth.
Dip sauerkraut balls into egg batter. Roll in bread crumbs.
Pour oil into a pan and heat to 365 degrees. Cook sauerkraut balls in hot oil for 1 minute. Drain. Serve at once, or cover and chill. To serve, place balls in a 13- by 9-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Makes 48.
To make mustard sauce: In a small bowl, combine milk and soup mix and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in sour cream and mustard. Heat through but do not boil.
■ Barbara Vonderheide of Lexington, a substitute elementary teacher and mother of four, said her recipe for crispy cheese wafers was so simple to make that she froze them to have when company comes. "If I used them just as snacks, the kids would devour them," she said.
Crispy cheese wafers
8 ounces grated sharp Cheddar cheese
8 ounces softened margarine
2 cups sifted flour
½ teaspoon garlic salt
1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups crispy rice cereal
In a large bowl, mix cheese and margarine until smooth. Add flour, garlic salt and pepper, and blend. Stir in rice cereal. Roll into small balls, using a teaspoon for a measure. Flatten with finger. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.
■ This recipe was shared by Mrs. John W. Stevens of Lexington.
Smoked oyster roll
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1½ tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Pinch each of salt, garlic salt and onion salt
1 can (3 ounces) smoked oysters, drained and chopped
Dried green onions, chopped
Combine cream cheese and mayonnaise and blend well. Stir in Worcestershire, salt and seasoned salts. Mix well. Spread cream cheese mixture about ¼-inch thick on waxed paper. Chill at least 30 minutes. Spread oysters on cream cheese mixture and roll up jellyroll fashion. Roll in chopped dried green onion. Chill overnight. Cut in ½ -inch slices. Serve with soda crackers. Makes about 2 dozen slices.
■ This recipe was submitted by Ronald Clarke of Lexington.
Smoked cheese squares
8 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
½ cup salad dressing
¼ cup chopped olives
¼ cup pecan pieces
Dash cayenne pepper, optional
Place cheese, liquid smoke and salad dressing in a blender. Blend at medium speed until smooth. Remove from blender and stir in olives and pecan pieces. Spread in an 8- by 8-inch pan. Chill until firm. Cut into 2-inch squares and place around edge of patter of country ham.
■ In 1983, we printed the best recipes from the past 10 years of Herald-Leader food pages. They were the recipes most requested by our readers.
This recipe is still one of our favorites.
Homemade Boursin cheese
1 carton (8 ounces) whipped butter
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon basil
¼ teaspoon dill weed
¼ teaspoon marjoram
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon thyme
In a large mixing bowl or food processor, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and continue beating until well blended. Pack cheese mixture into containers as desired. Cover tightly and allow to mellow for at least 12 hours in the refrigerator. Will keep, tightly covered, for 2 to 4 weeks. Let come to room temperature before serving as a spread on crisp raw vegetables or assorted crackers. Makes about 3½ cups.
■ This recipe was one of Francoise Geleyn-McNeese's favorites.
Smoked salmon with spinach asparagus
1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1½ -inch pieces
2 ounces fresh spinach
3 ounces smoked salmon
3½ ounces butter
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In saucepan, cook cut asparagus in boiling salted water for 8 to 10 minutes, or just until tender. Drain well, saving the juice. Wash spinach and dip in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and crush. Sliced smoked salmon into small pieces, about ½ -inch lengths.
In saucepan, bring 2⁄3 cup asparagus juice to a boil; stir in butter and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened. Add asparagus pieces and spinach; cook and stir a few minutes more but not to a boil. In preheated deep plates, pour asparagus, spinach and sauce. Sprinkle in the smoked salmon pieces and serve hot. Makes 4 servings.
For several years, this recipe was requested by readers who had misplaced their copies or had heard about it from a friend.
Creamy beef dip
1 jar (2½ ounces) sliced dried beef, rinsed, finely chopped
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon dill weed
½ teaspoon prepared horseradish
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Chill.
Cooks rely on ready-made ingredients to make tasty party foods.
1 wheel, or triangle, brie with rind left on (see note)
1 jar (4 ounces) pesto
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush pesto over top and sides of well-chilled brie. Place brie on foil-lined baking sheet with low sides. Bake 10 to 15 minutes in center of oven until heated through. Remove from oven and let sit 2 to 3 minutes. With large spatula, carefully transfer to serving platter. Serve with assorted crackers, torn pieces of Italian bread or crostini.
Note: Other size wheels of brie may be substituted; just increase or decrease amount of pesto as needed.
Sharon Thompson: (859) 231-3321. Twitter: @FlavorsofKY. Blog: Flavorsofkentucky.bloginky.com.