Food & Drink

Delicious but easy is key to new year's appetizers

Some of the appetizers created by Chef Sam Sears at South-Van Events, 753 East Seventh Street in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, December, 13, 2011. Charles Bertram | Staff
Some of the appetizers created by Chef Sam Sears at South-Van Events, 753 East Seventh Street in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, December, 13, 2011. Charles Bertram | Staff Herald-Leader

An array of interesting appetizers is prefect fare for a New Year's Eve party.

And because you probably have done some entertaining already this season, the simpler they are to put together, the better.

The recipes on Page B4 are simple to throw together, and you can round out your choices with ready-made items from the supermarket, a gourmet food store or a caterer.

We asked Sam Sears, co-owner of South-Van Catering, to share some great-tasting appetizers that can be pulled together at a moment's notice if necessary.

"We came up with some recipes that included items easily obtained at grocery stores — nothing too exotic, rare or gourmet. Items that many may have in their pantry or fridge door," Sears said.

He suggests creating items that can be prepared completely in advance — or at least the individual ingredients can be prepared and assembled, then topped or heated just before party time.



Fresh baguette

1 to 2 garlic cloves, cut

Olive oil for brushing

Ripe Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 large fresh basil leaves, chopped

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Whole basil leaves, for garnish

Cut baguette in ½ -inch-thick slices; rub with cut garlic cloves and brush with olive oil; toast, grill or broil lightly. Mix together Roma tomatoes, minced garlic, chopped basil, 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Top baguette slices with tomato-basil mixture and shredded Parmesan. Garnish with whole basil leaves and serve.

Quickie Reubens

1 can sauerkraut, drained

3 tablespoons Thousand Island dressing

1 package miniature party rye bread

1 pound shaved corned beef

8 slices Big Eye Swiss cheese (cut into 4 squares each)

Mix together sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing. Top slices from half loaf of bread with corn beef, sauerkraut and a square of cheese. Cover with another slice of bread. Put in oven at 350 degrees until cheese melts. Serve whole or in halves secured with frill picks.

Goat cheese and chow chow slider

1⁄8 pound ground beef

Dash Tabasco

Dash seasoning salt

Goat cheese, sliced thin

Ready-made chow chow

Mini bun

Grape tomato and gherkin, for garnish

In medium bowl, combine ground beef, Tabasco and seasoning salt. Form into mini patty. Grill until done. Top with goat cheese and chow chow. Serve on bun secured with frill pick, and garnish with grape tomato and gherkin.

Makes 1 slider.

Cucumber and tomato relish

1 cup finely chopped celery

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 English cucumber, finely chopped

1 Roma tomato, finely chopped

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients in medium bowl.

Swedish nuts

2 egg whites

1 cup sugar

Pinch salt

1/4 cup melted margarine

1 pound pecans

In medium mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Gradually fold in sugar and salt. In separate bowl, pour melted margarine over pecans and stir. Fold egg whites into nuts. Spread mixture on cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving.

Marinated tortellini skewers

1 package tortellini

Hard salami, cubed

Kalamata olives

Fresh mozzarella balls

Grape tomatoes

Bottled Italian dressing

Cook tortellini al dente according to package directions. Set aside to cool. On a skewer, place piece of tortellini, cube of hard salami, olive, mozzarella ball and grape tomato. Finish with another tortellini. Repeat to make as many skewers as needed. Marinate skewers in Italian dressing overnight. Before serving, drain skewers. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Smoked turkey and artichoke panini

Loaf of European-style bread

Smoked provolone cheese, sliced

1 can artichoke hearts, drained


Salt and pepper

Dash Tabasco

Shredded Parmesan cheese

Smoked turkey, sliced

Fresh baby spinach

Red onion, thinly sliced

Grape tomatoes and green olives, for garnish

Cut bread into ½ inch- to ¾ inch-thick slices. Using half the loaf of bread, place provolone on each slice. Combine artichokes with mayonnaise, salt, pepper, Tabasco and Parmesan cheese, to taste. Spread atop provolone, then add turkey, spinach and onion to each. Top each with remaining bread slices. Put sandwiches in greased panini press and cook until bread has browned. Cut into quarters, and secure with frill pick containing grape tomato and olive. Serve immediately.

Parmesan flatbread


Extra virgin olive oil or melted butter

Minced garlic

Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded

Cracked black pepper

Kosher salt

Black and white sesame seeds

Cut flatbread into squares, triangles or strips. Brush with olive oil or butter. Top with garlic, Parmesan, pepper, salt and sesame seeds. Toast in oven until golden-brown.

Brie praline cups

Brie cheese, cut into cubes

Whole pecans

Miniature phyllo cups

Commercial praline sauce

Place cube of brie and pecan into each phyllo cup, and drizzle with praline sauce. Bake at 350 degrees until brie begins to melt, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and serve warm or at room temperature.

Serve this sassy Cajun spread with corn chips, vegetable crudités or crackers.

Spicy crawfish spread

3 tablespoons butter

¾ cup onion, finely diced

¾ cup celery, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons salt-free seasoning

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

8 ounces peeled, cooked crawfish tails, chopped

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

Celery leaf, optional

Melt butter in small skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery and garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until onion and celery are tender. Add seasonings; sauté 30 seconds.

Combine sautéed vegetables and crawfish tails in bowl. Add cream cheese and stir gently to combine. Garnish with celery leaf if desired. Makes about 2 cups.

From Gooseberry Patch Big Book of Home Cooking (Oxmoor House, $29.95)

Serve multicolored tortilla chips with this Tex-Mex dip to make it even more festive.

Vickie's gazpacho dip

3 tomatoes, diced

3 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced

4 green onions, thinly sliced

1 can (4.5 ounces) diced green chilies, undrained

3 tablespoons olive oil

1½ tablespoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon garlic salt

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Combine tomatoes, avocados, onions and chilies in large bowl; set aside. Whisk together olive oil and remaining ingredients; drizzle over vegetables and toss well. Cover and chill.

Makes 5 cups.

From Gooseberry Patch Big Book of Home Cooking

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