Mark Vogel received his doctorate in clinical
psychology from Yeshiva University and his culinary arts degree from the
Institute of Culinary Education, both in New York City. Although he still
practices psychology, his deepest passion remains cooking at an
Italian/Mediterranean restaurant in NJ and writing about food and wine. His
column "Food For Thought" is published in a number of NJ and Philadelphia
newspapers and food related websites.
Mark R. Vogel
Holiday Party Hors d’oeuvres
Whether you call them appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, canapés,
amuse-bouches, or amuse-gueules, they are the scrumptious little morsels served
before the start of a full course meal. They can vary from simple presentations
such as cheese and crackers to complex preparations with exquisite ingredients
requiring as much work as the main course. Hors d’oeuvres can also function as
the primary food such as at cocktail and holiday parties.
Below are a variety of ideas for hors d’oeuvres for your holiday get-togethers.
I hesitate to call them recipes, simply because I haven’t listed exact
measurements for each ingredient. First of all, exact ratios are not necessary
for the forthcoming preparations. Second, by freeing yourself of the measuring
spoons and cups and relying on your eyes and your taste, you can whip up these
concoctions much quicker. This is a party atmosphere. Go with your gut and
indulge your creativity.
The following list of hors d’oeuvres spans a breadth of culinary complexity and
ingredient extravagance. Choose the ones that suit your budget, culinary
zealousness, and your personal taste.
ROASTED PEPPER & ANCHOVY CROSTINI
Crostini are small thin slices of toast. Roast a red pepper in the broiler and
remove the seeds and stems. Chop it up with some anchovies and garlic. Add
either some basil or sautéed spinach for color. Finish with extra virgin olive
oil, salt and pepper. Slice a long thin loaf of French bread, drizzle some olive
oil on the slices and toast. Spoon the mixture onto the toasted slices.
SMOKED SALMON CRUDITES
Crudités, (cru-dee-TAY), are raw vegetables served as a hors d’oeuvre. Finely
mince a little red onion and some dill. Mix it into sour cream. You can also add
some capers if you like. Add salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Peel
and slice a cucumber into ¼ inch rounds. Bundle a piece of smoked salmon on the
cucumber and then top with the sour cream sauce. Place a tiny sprig of dill on
top of the sauce or if you really want to get fancy, some caviar.
Take 2 batches of watercress and about a pint of sour cream. Chop up the
watercress with some red onion and mix in the sour cream little by little to you
achieve the desired consistency. Add horseradish, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with crackers and/or raw vegetable sticks.
BLACK OLIVE & SUN DRIED TOMATO TAPENADE
Place an equal amount of black olives and sun-dried tomatoes in a food
processor. Add a bunch of parsley, a squirt of lemon juice and some salt and
pepper. Pulse the mixture a few times. Then slowly add a stream of extra virgin
olive oil with the processor on until a smooth paste is achieved. Check for
additional salt or pepper. Place dollops of the tapenade on Belgium endive
TRUFFLED GOAT CHEESE CRUDITES
Mix white truffle oil into goat cheese until you achieve the extent of truffle
flavor that you like. You can also add chopped herbs such as parsley, thyme or
rosemary. Add salt and pepper to taste. Peel and slice a cucumber into ¼ inch
rounds and a parsnip into 1/16 to 1/8 inch rounds. Roast, seed, and peel a red
pepper. Cut the pepper into little diamond shapes or some other decorative
pattern about a half-inch in size. Spread some of the cheese on a cucumber
slice. Top with a parsnip slice and more cheese. Place a piece of the red pepper
on top in the center. Sprinkle with fleur de sel or another high quality sea
SPINACH AND MOZZARELLA PUFFS
You can use frozen chopped spinach but if you have the time I’d recommend
sautéing fresh spinach in some garlic and oil and chopping it yourself. If you
choose sautéed spinach, remember that spinach reduces a great deal so start with
a lot. Take the thawed frozen spinach or the sautéed spinach and squeeze as much
of the fluid out of it as possible. Add the spinach to a food processor along
with an equal amount of mozzarella cheese. Add some parsley and salt and pepper.
If you used the frozen spinach add a few cloves of garlic. Briefly whiz it in
the food processor until you have a homogenized mixture.
Take two sheets of phyllo dough and brush them with melted butter. Then cut
lengthwise into three-inch strips. Take a spoonful of the spinach mixture and
place at the beginning of a strip. Fold it over to make a triangle and continue
to fold the strip end over end, maintaining the triangular pattern. Brush the
finished puff with melted butter. Continue with the rest of the dough until
you’ve used up the spinach mixture. Line the puffs on parchment paper on a sheet
tray and place them into a preheated 350 degree oven until golden brown. Keep an
eye on them for the filling can sometimes burst out while baking. You can also
fill them with the goat cheese mixture from above.
LAMB FILETS OVER QUINOA
Quinoa (KEEN-wah) is a popular South American grain. It is very nutritious,
containing several vitamins and minerals, as well as being a complete protein
with all eight amino acids. Look for it in gourmet stores or on the Internet.
First roast a lamb loin. If you can’t get a whole loin, try lamb rib chops. If
you use the chops, pound them thin like veal scaloppini and sauté them very
briefly at high heat.
For the quinoa, finely mince one small carrot, one celery rib, and half a small
onion. Sauté the vegetables in a good dose of butter and olive oil for two
minutes. Add about one cup of quinoa and sauté for a minute or two more. Add two
cups of water and some salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10
minutes until the quinoa is the texture of al dente pasta. Taste and add more
salt and pepper if needed.
Make quenelles with the quinoa. To make a quenelle scoop up some of quinoa with
one tablespoon. Work it back and forth against another tablespoon to form a firm
football shaped mass. Slice the lamb very thin and drape one slice over each
quinoa quenelle. If you’d like, make a quick sauce from equal parts buttermilk
and plain yogurt. Add chopped mint leaves and salt and pepper. Place a small
dollop of the sauce on top of the lamb.