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Holiday Canapes

A Saving Grace


The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's day are the party season. And whether you're preparing Christmas dinner or need to take something to a New Year party, it's also the season for hors d'Oeuvres, canapés, munchies, tapas, whatever you prefer to call bite-sized morsels. These are also a great way to keep guests happy when the Christmas goose (or roast) is taking longer than planned.

Pre-emptive Edibles

Delay frustrates hungry people and low blood sugar makes them even more irritable so My favorite trick for dealing with delays is serving hors d'Oeuvres in advance. They require nothing more than a platter and cocktail napkins to serve. If you're on schedule they're a great beginning and if you’re late they can extend your guests' patience for as much as an hour. Here are a few such treats you can make in advance and then simply warm or even serve cold. They're always a welcome addition to the pre-meal festivities and may well turn a disappointment into a success.

And wine or cocktails help too.

Gougeres: Savory Puffs

Gougeres with Prosciutto
Copyright 2008 Kevin D Weeks
Gougeres are bite-size savory puff pastries generally made with cheese. Don't let the pastry frighten you, it looks tricky but turns out to be even easier than pie. Best of all, these can be frozen and reheated. Simply arrange them, still frozen, on a baking sheet and slide into the oven with whatever else is in there for 10 - 15 minutes depending on the oven temperature.

Carpaccio: A Recipe for Italian Sophistication

Kevin D Weeks
Carpaccio is an Italian version of Beef Tatare. Made of raw beef and dressed with lemony mayonnaise, it was created in Harry's Bar in Venice, which, despite the name, is actually a first class restaurant opened by an Italian named Giuseppe Cipriani in 1931. My version uses a balsamic vinaigrette instead of mayonnaise. Slice the meat in the morning, then, just before serving, arrange the appetizer on a platter and place a basket of thinly-sliced baguette beside it.

Cheese-stuffed Peppers

Cheese-stuffed Peppers
Copyright 2009 Kevin D Weeks
These slices of pepper stuffed with goat cheese make a beautiful display on a platter. I first had them some 20 years ago when my mother made them. I don't know where she got the idea nor do I recall specifically what she used in them but my version includes red onion and fresh dill. They are equally good hot from the oven, at room temperature or even cold so in addition to serving them at parties I often take them on picnics. I've also substituted feta for the goat cheese.

Smoked Salmon Bruschetta

Canape Spreads
Copyright 2008 Kevin D Weeks
These smoked salmon bruschetta can be prepped hours in advance and refrigerated, but are quick enough to make and serve in 15 minutes. The smoked salmon brings rich deep flavor, which the brie lightens up making it suitable for an appetizer. Dill and red onion are optional, but lend a remembrance of lox.

Tuna Deviled Eggs: A Spanish Tapas

Tuna-stuffed Eggs
Copyright 2009 Kevin D Weeks
Deviled eggs are a popular component of cookouts and picnics - not to mention being a great snack at any time of year. They can be made a day or two in advance, are perfect for eating with your fingers, and are almost universally loved. The addition of tuna to these eggs may strike you as bizarre, but I first had them as a tapas in Spain and fell in love with them. I recommend using tuna packed in olive oil (it tastes better) and do look for the smoked Spanish paprika.

Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Crostini

Canape Spreads
Copyright 2008 Kevin D Weeks
These Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Crostini are an invention of mine. On my first visit to Europe in 1971 I found a cheese and ham spread in a tube that I loved. On my second trip in 1998 I rediscovered it and fell in love again. But this time, when I got home I recreated the delicacy. Spread on lightly toasted slices of baguette, or even on crackers, it's a great little munchie. And the spread keeps in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Hummus bi Tahini: A Middle Eastern Treat

Humus bi Tahini
Copyright 2009 Kevin D Weeks
There's always dip. Hummus bi Tahini (Chickpeas with Sesame Paste) is wildly popular throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa. It has also long been one of my favorite snacks, and I have my recipe posted on the refrigerator so it's always handy. I like it best with warm pita but it's also great with raw carrots, celery, and cauliflower. Make three or four days in advance.

Provencal Rosemary Almonds Recipe

A dish of these savory Provencal nuts are at home on any hors d’oeuvres plate. The spicy cayenne and rosemary pair nicely with a peach kir royaux aperitif. Courtesy of frenchfood.about.com

Honey Roasted Stuffed Figs with Prosciutto

Pairing the fresh, savory flavor of prosciutto with sweet rich figs and an herbed nut-based cream is perfect for a decadent appetizer or hors d'oeuvre for a cocktail party or get-together. For an even quicker recipe solution, substitute the cashews, miso and orange juice for store-bought dairy-free cream cheese, such as Tofutti. Courtesy of dairyfreecooking.about.com.

Banderillas Recipe - A Spanish Tapa

These easy tapas called Banderillas get their name from the barbed darts used during a bullfight! Fortunately, these banderillas aren't dangerous and are a very simple-to-prepare tapa. They require no cooking! Basically, if you can open a jar and skewer the ingredients on a toothpick, you can make banderillas! Courtesy of spanishfood.about.com.

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